Pot Holes Wisdom

Pot Holes Wisdom - Qimpro

So the monsoon rains in Mumbai have arrived. Just a few days back.

What a relief. With the monsoon comes a an outpouring of poetry, music, philosophy and wisdom.

Belief 1:

There is a saying: As you sow, so you reap.

We sowed bad quality while repairing the pot holes of our 2018 monsoon.

We are now reaping a harvest of bad pot holes. That too, in less than a week of the monsoon showers.

Traffic flow is down to a trickle. What with the work in progress on the Mumbai Metro project and the collapsing foot-over-bridges?

Mumbai citizens accept this.

Belief 2:

I am a firm believer that Excellent Process Quality can deliver Faster + Better + Cheaper + Different.

Pot holes were an issue by August last year. This year, with a 20 days delayed monsoon, we have already delivered bad pot holes. Faster than last year.

Are they better (I mean worse)?

The cycle time has been much shorter…so the pot holes must have come more easily (I mean cheaper).

Are they different? Not really. They are the same pot holes that were repaired last year.

Traffic flow in Mumbai is now characterized by meandering motor cycles.

Mumbai citizens accept this.

Belief 3:

A system is a management cycle. An effective quality system must adopt the Deming Cycle: Plan – Do – Check – Act (repeat – again and again). I believe there is no alternative.

The agencies in power obviously make no Plan for a pot holes free Mumbai. They argue that Mumbai would lose its differentiation.

These same agencies delegate the repair of pot holes to multiple “committees” of unskilled workers, encouraging them to use the lowest cost available materials. The Do is achieved to the unskilled worker’s sense of satisfaction.

The Check is the responsibility of the specific managers in the agency. In practice, this is accomplished by the agency managers in the comfort of an office room, as opposed to an autopsy of the repair work.

Because of the above, there is no room for improvement. So who should Act?

Traffic flow in Mumbai is a mystery. Each citizen carves a unique distributary to office. Just-In-Time.

Mumbai citizens accept this.

Random Thoughts:

  1. Mumbai First must take charge of the recurring pot holes epidemic in our heritage city.
  2. Pot holes should not become heritage possessions for our children.
  3. A camel is a horse created by a committee.
  4. Flooding of roads is a chronic problem, following the arrival of monsoon rains in Mumbai, crippling the flow of traffic. (Watch out for the pot holes!).
  5. Human scavenging is dehumanizing. Is Mumbai First listening?
  6. Mumbai citizens must wake up.

This blog is a woeful continuation of an article I wrote on the same subject last year:

Pot holes in Mumbai: A Quality Perspective

This article appeared in Business India, August 13-26, 2018.

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8 thoughts on “Pot Holes Wisdom”

  • I tell you what Sir ? Let’s draw two Control Charts – one for the number of potholes per kilometre , and one for the diameter of the potholes .
    That will surely solve the problem – say what ? 😉

  • I could sense frustration and anger well up in me when I read the blog. There have been fatal accidents due to potholes but we, the Citizens of Mumbai (including me), believe – “Our is not to reason why, Ours is just to do and die.” This problem has to be solved by the Citizens of Mumbai but will they? The reason I believe is we have given up and become reactive. How do you get someone who has become completely reactive to change? Hope you can provide us with an answer to this question in your next blog. Your advice will not only help Mumbai Citizens but also many Indian organisations that face this problem!

    • I am glad you have had an emotional response.
      Pot holes are the symptomatic evidence of a much larger problem.
      Mumbai Citizens must change their attitude of “acceptance.”
      How will that happen? Do you have some thoughts?
      Dr J M Juran would have said “Pray for things to get worse”

  • Thanks for the post Sir, one more aspect is it’s impact on the environment due to traffic jams, accidents, anxiety and stress and a sense of despair within the society!!! Just a spontaneous thought as I read.

    • The more you think about pot holes you will realize that they reflect:
      1. Poor Quality culture
      2. No concern for Safety
      3. No concern for the Environment
      4. Poor Governance.

  • The pot holes disease is also seen in organisations.

    Poor Planning and Cross Functional Gaps create pot-holes that some quality control projects keep filling every year. It is Quality Improvement that challenges status quo and solves chronic problems.

    • Well said Sachin.
      I would like to add that Quality Control ( as practiced) creates jobs. There is no motivation to permanently solve the chronic problems with Quality Improvement.

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