quality fables competition

About Quality Fables Competition

A Quality Fable is a 500-word narrative on how your project was conceived – the non-technical story behind your project.

Your story-telling skills can win this unique Quality Fables Prize.

There is an art to writing Quality Fables...First take a look at the Sample Quality Fables to get an idea of the tone, the style and the length of your story. Then select an interesting project experience or initiative done by your organization and capture it into a Quality Fable using 500 words or less. We urge you to run your entry by your Corporate Communications team before submission. You will score points for a well-crafted Quality Fable. read more

The Tale of the Cocky Manager and the Floundering Leader
Bharat Wakhlu

When the Master Craftsman (MC), Mr. Rao was promoted to be the Plant Head of India’s leading Automotive Company, it was well-received by the organization’s employees. The fact that he had risen to the position of MC fairly rapidly through the ranks, was also cited as proof of his competence.

For a Technician to become a Master Craftsman was uncommon, especially since only the very best made the cut. In any given year, not more than two – out of 20 or more finalists, chosen from a cohort of eligible candidates -would ever become MCs.

A few months into his role as an MC, word began to get around that Mr. Rao was somewhat impatient with his subordinates; as also with his peers from other departments. If any of his colleagues had a different perspective than that of Mr. Rao, he would raise his voice and usually get his way.

As Plant Head, Mr. Rao had meetings at 8:00 am every morning. This was in an era when video calls and meetings on-line were unavailable, so every person who reported into the Plant Head, had to be physically present in the large conference room. The morning meetings were anything but amicable. Mr. Rao demanded instantaneous answers to why problems had occurred at all. If his subordinates were unable to provide answers that he liked, they were asked to call their deputies and to get the answers before the end of the meeting. Increasingly, less and less information was shared with Mr. Rao.

Mr. Rao was becoming more imperious with each passing day, and seemed to have an opinion on anything and everything! His colleagues started to avoid him, and the junior associates – who bore the brunt of his fury every morning – would make excuses to avoid the morning meetings. Many senior managers were now used to getting a dressing down in front of all the other officers and managers in the room.

By now the General Manager sensed that something was grossly wrong. He called the Head of Industrial Engineering and asked him to conduct a root-cause analysis of why the plant wasn’t functioning well, and why employee morale too was down. When the analysis was submitted, there were three causes that were spelled out: 1. Fear of Mr. Rao was hindering free and open communications with all concerned. 2. There was a hurry to 'whitewash' and gloss-over plant problems, with no concern about rectifying what was wrong, to avoid a recurrence; and 3. The front-line technicians and engineers felt disempowered since they were given none of the resources they needed for their work.

The General Manager read the Analysis and decided to act. He relieved Mr. Rao of his duties as Plant Head and transferred him to the Engineering Research and Development Division.

Then he went about straightening out the lapses that had occurred.

Features and Failures - A Bank Fable
Sample with Video

Multinational Banks are known to invest in excellent infrastructure and executives. The lowest designation for a new campus recruit two decades ago, in India, was nothing less than Vice President. Salaries matched the designation. The self esteem of these freshly recruited students was always at a zenith. They were the prize catch for the most popular campus recruiters - multinational banks.

I was invited by a multinational bank in South Mumbai, the fi nancial capital of India, to experience excellence. An autopsy of sorts. Yes, this branch of the bank had marble fl ooring, piped music, art that only a successful bank could afford, personal computers at every desk, and more. Perfect.

The head of the branch took me around to meet with several of his executives. I will focus on one 200 square feet section that was partitioned with a three feet high wall. This section seated four executives, in the four corners, facing the partition wall. All four in pin striped suits. Each of the four was very busy working on his dedicated personal computer.

I asked: “What is the activity of this section?”

Branch head: “They print the monthly statements of account holders.”

The qualitist in me: “Oh, they manufacture monthly statements.”

Branch head: ???

More of the qualitist: “What is the failure rate for these monthly statements?”

Branch head: “Can’t you see…it’s all computerized!!”

Yet more of the qualitist: “Oh. I see. Do any customers come back for a reconciliation?”

“Hardly any.”

“How many?”

“Perhaps one in 200.”

“Ah ha. That’s 0.5% failure rate.”

“So what’s the cost of failure?”


“Let’s find out”.

The branch head and I invested a half-day fi nding out what work the four executives actually did. As it turned out, one needed the equivalent of two persons to do 99.5% of the work right the first time and the equivalent of another two to correct 0.5 % failures!

So what is the cost of poor quality (COPQ) of this section? It’s 50% of the budget for that department plus the equivalent of marble flooring, piped music, and art.

The bank heard the alarm. They commenced their pilot projects by working on COPQ for the auto loan process in South India.

A city without water

It’s a Sunday afternoon. Suresh and his 6 years old son sitting in their hall watching TV. A documentary named as “A city without water” started playing on their TV screen. It caught their attention.

A beautiful city in South Africa, "Cape Town" ran out of water. City announced “Zero day”. Government has announced use of only 50 liter water per person per day. Some people were so poor they cannot even buy a bottle of drinking water. A lot of people were suffering from this water crisis.

After watching documentary, son asked some questions to Suresh that left him in deep silence. 

Papa what if our city ran out of water?

What if we don’t get water to drink?

Will we have to stand in long queuing lines to take water like these people in Cape Town?

These questions couldn’t let Suresh sleep all night. He kept thinking; “if our generation continues using water carelessly then one day my son may not be able to have any water left for him and for his next generation. I must do something for this”.

Next morning, Suresh went to his office. It’s a yarn dyeing section of a Textile Industry. While on morning round he observed that a lot of water is used in his plant and there are so many work practices where water is being used carelessly. Suresh discussed this with his HOD and proposed if they reduces water requirement per kg yarn dyeing then this would lead to reduction of their effluent water treatment cost. With top management’s approval Suresh & his team worked together to find out ways to reduce water consumption. They had a brainstorming session and came out with good ideas. They increased yarn loading capacity of dyeing machine with low MLR.  They also optimized their dyeing process. In some areas they reduced number of water baths. They identified and eliminated wrong work practices. Training regarding proper use of water at home and within organization being provided for employees at all levels. With combined efforts they were able to reduce consumption of water. This project helped not only to reduce water consumption in plant but also helped to increase production without loss of quality. It reduced cost of effluent treatment. Suresh and his team were able to reduce their water consumption per kg yarn to a considerably low value which was in favor of both environment and company.

Now Suresh feels like a proud human being who not only cares for his son but who is also responsible to take care of Mother Nature.

Gunavatta aur Aftab
Balaji Reddie

“I think we’ve tolerated this enough” , said Mr. Kirodimal the CEO of Arthik Production Private Limited . The discussion was about one of the employees who was very sincere and honest , but had a very bad track record of attendance . He would invariably exhaust his leaves for the year by the end of October , and then would be charged with ‘Leave Without Pay’ for he rest of the Calendar year .

All his colleagues liked this affable employee and his impeccable work , but now the CEO was looking to terminate his employment because of his ‘misdemeanours’ . This was brought to the notice of the Quality Director of the company – Mr. Gunavatta in whose department he worked . “Aftab is a good man . Why does he have such a bad track record otherwise ? I believe in blaming the process and not the person . There must be an underlying problem we’re not able to see . Let’s look at the data .”

His absenteeism records showed that he remained absent either a day before despatch to a major customer – or a day after . It was always the same customer ! “Now that’s a coincidence ! Why the same customer every time ?” asked Mr. Gunavatta . “Well we despatch material to them every other week as per their requirement” , said Aftab’s immediate Supervisor Mr. Khadoos .

So , in effect , Aftab was inspecting a fortnight worth of despatch in a matter of two days every single time . If some other requirement from any other Customer came in the interim , it meant that much more work and tension .

Upon digging deeper , it came to light that Aftab would be stuck at his table the whole day inspecting sampling lots of the material which was quite cumbersome . If there were multiple despatches , it would lead to boredom and fatigue , and Khadoos would not want anything to slip through – he would come down on Aftab like a ton of bricks upsetting him no end . It was then that they discovered that Aftab had a hypertension problem . It had nothing to do with his age (he was in his mid thirties) – it was hereditary . So that was it !

“Why did you not tell me of his frail health before ? People with hypertension need to be on the move and need a ‘change in scene’ regularly” , said Mr. Gunavatta . “I’ll talk to the Manager in charge of Provider-Network Design and get Aftab to visit the Providers’ premises and carry out checks at the Providers’ end . He can also improve their processes consequently . I think this is going to work” .

Aftab was given this responsibility to improve Provider Quality at source . What a transformation that precipitated ! He loved going to Providers’ end and carrying out checks there . He also trained them and improved their processes . Arthik Production no longer had to rely on incoming inspection now . The most beneficial outcome was that his attendance soared . He loved his work ! He felt important now . His family said that his attitude and self worth improved too .