A 2013 Quality Perspective

Before I press the publish button I feel obligated to “Welcome Paul Gillespie” not only to Bernie’s Team but to the contributors to our company and the Bernie’s Team website. I have all of you at a disadvantage, in that I have gotten to read Paul’s first post before you; and I for one am looking forward to the next one.

Bernie, I think you stumbled on a keeper!!!

An auditor is a man who watches the battle from the safety of the hills and then comes down to bayonet the wounded. – Sir Charles Lyell, American accountant, 1797 – 1875.

Because of the way that quality assurance began in the commercial nuclear industry, that statement by Mr. Lyell has been often repeated and sadly, not without merit. As a reaction to the adoption of 10CFR50 Appendix B in the early 1970’s, it was not uncommon for companies engaged in the nuclear construction business to simply designate certain individuals as “QA.” With very little training or qualifications, many became “auditors” and were perceived as those folks that found problems long after work had been completed. The process was similar to going all-out to close the barn door after the horse had run away. Quality assurance was practiced in a reactive way. The QA folks were auditors, and it was perceived that that is all they did. Thankfully, times have changed in most areas of the nuclear industry and we have a more proactive approach to meeting expectations.
Although I am an old “QA guy” as opposed to an old guy that works in QA (and there is a difference), I am not old school. Having worked in so many different segments of the nuclear world, I learned years ago that you cannot push a chain up a hill and the best approach to effectively implement a quality assurance program was through leading, teaching, and coaching. The quality of a product or a service then becomes an individual responsibility instead of the responsibility of “that group over there.” It is all about taking ownership and demonstrating control of the various processes we use to complete a task.
From time to time, I will post short articles here that I hope will be informative regarding the various happenings and “hot-button” issues in the industry. Things are changing in the nuclear quality world and we will need to adjust accordingly.
Until next time,

Paul G