Made in Japan: Are these true stories?

IBM: Defects ordered to perfection?

This is a story I had heard from my friend David Hutchins, the British Quality Guru, a couple of decades back.

David, a frequent visitor to Japan, explained to me the Japanese attitude to perfection….
According to David: IBM, the American computer giant, had decided to test Japanese manufacturing capabilities by placing a trial order for some computer component.
In the specifications IBM had spelt out that they would accept only three defective parts per 10,000. This had stressed the Japanese manufacturer… How? Why?
On the exact date of delivery, the parts arrived at the doorstep of IBM. The shipment was accompanied with a hand written letter:
“We Japanese people have had a very difficult time understanding IBM business practices, etc, etc, etc…
However, with great difficulty, the three defective parts per 10,000 have been separately manufactured. They have been included in the consignment in a separate packaging, with bold instructions – DEFECTIVE PIECES, AS PER REQUIREMENT. NOT FOR USE. We hope this pleases you.”

FIFA: Real winners take out the trash

At an evening dinner at the Cricket Club of India my friend Harry Singh, a sports enthusiast, informed me that at the FIFA 2014 in Brazil, the Japanese had set a new benchmark in civic behaviour.
Despite losing to the Ivory Coast in the World Cup opener, Japanese fans actually took the time to clean up their section of the stadium!!
Apparently, this practice is a standard at sporting events in Japan. The good tourists in Brazil were simply carrying on an ingrained custom.

MADE IN JAPAN: Quality driven phoenix

This is the same nation that, post World War II, had no resources, bombarded factories, no buying power! However, they did have a great desire to survive and succeed. Led by the Emperor of Japan.


2 thoughts on “Made in Japan: Are these true stories?”

  • The story of Japanese cleaning up stadiums after matches is 100% true. This habit stood the Japanese fans out during France 98

  • There is a concept of six Sigma, which says that 3.4 parts per million can turn out to be defective during production.
    This means that when any company produces around 10 million products (say washer) then 34 can turn out to be defective. They only made 10,000, the proportion of defective parts manufactured is thus negligible.

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