Ok so here a story about quality here in China.
Factory A gets contacted to make a new product that they have never made, but basically it’s just a small version of what they have been making for years. Their quality is not good. They have been getting better but it’s still not even close to American quality or the top-level factories making the same product. They have fixed certain issues with tolerances and materials. Improving everyday.
New client sends a sample from another factory, factory B. This factory is worse than factory A. So Factory A sees the sample product and now gets it in their head that actually they are a really good manufacturer because they are better than factory B. But what they don’t realize is that they both suck and factory B just sucks more. The sample contains the same issues that factory A has been fixing. Now factory A starts to question why they have been fixing these issues, why they have been working harder, and striving to do better, when factory B doesn’t have to. They also start to think that they are the best manufacturer ever because their product is superior to factory B.
This all leads to a feeling of content and laziness. The quality starts to go down hill because they think that they have finally made it and don’t have to fix any more issues because there are people who are worse off then they are. They don’t feel the need to innovate and now buckle in for a period of doing nothing and coasting along. Quality goes back down, eventually is just as bad or worse as factory B and the cycle starts again. Factory B becomes A and A becomes B.
The above happens too with product samples from the best factories. Products that are the best come into a factory and get torn apart. Why do we have to fix this issue and spend so much time on it if the best company in the world sells products that have the same problems or worse. Well, think of it like this. Ford gets an Audi to check out, they buy it and bring it into their factory. Ford’s engineers take it apart. They start to question why they have been putting so much time into specific aspects of design or manufacturing. Why do we have to make the car quieter inside? The boss (Ford) wants a db level of 70 but the Audi has a measurement of 80. Audi is more expensive than Ford, and supposed to be a better car. Why then are their cars louder and more specifically why do I have to work harder to achieve 70 when the Audi is 80. That’s the thinking.
What the factories and factory workers haven’t the slightest clue about is that, better product attracts better clients, attracts more clients, and more money. The top-level companies can sell defect products or slightly sub par products because they are the leader. They can get away with it. But when you are the underdog. You have to work twice as hard to climb the ladder and know one in China understands that. If they do, then they are the top-level companies. Because that’s what it takes.
I’ve read a lot of news lately about China trying to innovate. It’s going to be really hard. Really hard. The above problem compiled with a thousand others that are culturally specific are going to hinder them. Don’t misunderstand me, America is not the best, China is not the best. But one can hardly argue about the difference in education and it’s relationship with innovation and technology.
But one of the biggest problems is employee attitudes here. Boss in America, make it 70, employee, yes sir. You pay me I work. Boss in China, make it 70, employee, can’t do it, too hard, why, you don’t pay me enough, can’t be done, etc etc etc, argue, argue, yell, yell, dinner drinking, ok I’ll make it 70.