Month: June 2011

Resource and Carbon Intensity Reduction as the Key Sustainability Driver in Course Specifications

This is the rationale and methodology for integrating Resource Intensity reduction into continuing education courses as presented by me today.


Resource and Carbon Intensity Reduction as the Key Sustainability Driver in Course Specifications ~ a Quality paradigm


 For a number of reasons, but principally the fact that we will have limited access to resources and energy in the future at a price we can afford, we will need to understand, as individuals and organisations, how to control our use and conservation of the irreplaceable elements that form the basis of our ‘Quality of Life’.

We call this process, Sustainable Development; the journey of continual improvement towards perfect Quality that requires the total elimination of unnecessary physical resources, processes and energy (i.e. failure demand) within the ‘essential’ processes that constitute our Quality of Life.

This requires the conservation and where possible the enhancement of these five types of Capital. Project Sigma Guidelines

  1. Environmental Capital
  2. Social Capital
  3. Human Capital
  4. Financial Capital
  5. Manufactured Capital

Clearly this cannot be done in isolation as a dissociated unit within courses but must be part of the integrated delivery of learning within a course. Achieving the above is clearly different for every discipline and it is a continuing process of research and application on the journey of continual improvement we are all on.


 The timeline is being determined by forces largely outside our control, but we can take the UK Government’s Forth Carbon Budget’s commitment to a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions, referenced to 1990 in 14 years as the timeline.

Based on this it seems sensible to say we must have the process of learning embedded within the College’s core governing processes and within Staff CPD in twelve months and within all courses at the end of two years.


 It is crucial to understand that we are not only attempting to produce an evolving set of tools and body of knowledge for each discipline, but also to instill a fundamental understanding and the ability to enable process learning and improvement based on the Virtuous Circle below.



The process of implementation has three overlapping stages

  1. It must enable learning within staff for Resource and Carbon Intensity reduction
  2. It must transfer this learning to College stakeholders
  3. It must enable the continual reduction in the College’s Resource and carbon Intensity of Learning

 Management System Hierarchy

 The fundamental precept underlying this work is that Quality is the first word in what we aspire to most ‘Quality of Life’. Quality defined holistically as that which

“Maximises the essential value added to society resulting from the creation, use and disposal of products and services at reducing Resource Intensity”

From this perspective, economic, environmental and social failure demand and risk is simply the outcome of not achieving perfect Quality in product or service realisation. (Genichi Taguchi). See paper on page 5

It should be apparent that other Management Systems are integrated subsets of the Organisational Quality Management System

The graphic below in words

Quality & Organisational Sustainability

Quality maximises the essential value added to society resulting from the creation, use and disposal of products and services at reducing Resource Intensity’

This is achieved by doing the right thing right – first time – on time – every time.

Being Effective and then Efficient

Business has two sets of costs: –

The costs of getting it right – conformance costs – and the costs of getting it wrong – non-conformance costs.

Conformance costs are those of preventing ourselves getting it wrong and checking that we have not got it wrong – appraisal.

Non-conformance costs are the costs of doing the wrong thing or getting the right thing wrong – this can be inside the walls – internal failures – or outside the walls – external failures.

Innovative process design for sustainability, in process control, process learning and feedback will continually reduce prevention costs, appraisal costs, internal failures and most important of all external failure risks and costs.

Failure costs can be Economic, Environmental and Social and external failure costs can be catastrophic in terms of cost and the reduced public perception of the company (Brent Spar, Space Shuttle BP Oil Spill) etc.

Minimising these costs and associated risk will maximise the profit in relation to the price the business can charge relative to competition and perceived product or service excellence.

At the core is a virtuous cycle of Plan, Do, Check, Act, innovation for process sustainability and continuous monitoring of external signals.

The momentum of this cycle can only be maintained by the ingenuity generated by a synergy of the organisation’s people and its stakeholders.

This is the case for quality as understood by all businesses; the only difference is the holistic definition that moves it from a customer focus to a business focus; as in reality the customer utility in the product or service is dependent on the sustainability of the business.

ã 2005 Derek Deighton MCQI AIEMA AMIMechE CQP












Failure Demand, the hidden Cost to Society

If we could see an estimate of every appliance’s total life-cycle costs, we’d very likely make quite different buying decisions.

A. Blanton Godfrey

I served on the committee for a doctoral candidate, Lars Sörqvist, at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. Sörqvist’s thesis concerned the costs of poor quality. It examined how companies currently estimate poor quality costs and explored some new ideas about estimating actual costs. It also expanded upon the concept of total losses due to a company’s imperfect products and processes.

This theory, not completely new, relates to Genichi Taguchi’s earlier definition of “loss to society” caused by poor quality. When I first     encountered this concept in the early 1980s, I found it hard to accept. At the time, one of the early papers went so far as to suggest that if a television picture was too good, children would watch too much TV, thereby resulting in a loss to society. But, as usual, Taguchi was ahead of his time, and now we’re beginning to realize the far-reaching implications of this line of thought.

Sörqvist carefully defines five levels of poor quality costs. The first level comprises the traditional poor quality costs of rework, warranties, scrap, inspection costs and other visible internal and external failure costs. Normally hidden expenses he classifies as level two costs. These include invoice errors, unnecessary paperwork and wasted meeting times incurred by management. But level two costs also include chronic, routine problems that are easy to ignore and frequent, unthinking corrections that aren’t captured by accounting systems.

In the third level, Sörqvist includes costs related to lost income. When marketplace goods and services fail to meet customers’ needs or wants, substantial losses may occur. Although it’s usually difficult to quantify them, these costs are real and often quite high. They may result in immediate loss of market share or goodwill as well as long-term market effects. Poor service in a hotel, for example, might not impact revenues from the customer’s current stay, but the customer’s refusal to return to that particular hotel could certainly impact future revenues.

Sörqvist’s fourth level of poor quality costs includes losses incurred by customers. Such costs may or may not result in lost sales or market share, and may not even result in warranty costs. Competitors may incur the same losses, and customers may believe the costs are unavoidable.

These costs include early replacements (for example, light bulbs that last only a few thousand hours), incompatibilities with other equipment or software, items that are unnecessarily difficult to repair and other defects in design or workmanship for which customers end up paying.

But it’s the fifth level that stretches the usual definitions of poor quality costs the farthest. These are the socioeconomic costs, losses that affect a community due to inadequate processes or products of companies, organizations or governments. These costs have become increasingly more obvious. They include products that can’t easily be recycled and are harmful to the environment; manufacturing wastes that poison the air, land and water; and products with harmful side effects.

Many of these costs are only visible years later. The worldwide costs of DDT, lead-based paints, asbestos, pesticides, certain pharmaceuticals and industrial products are hard to estimate. Short-term benefits from these products invariably obscure long-term hazards. A drug with a serious side effect can create costs to society far beyond its obvious damage to the individuals using it.

For instance, society often overreacts to the drug and creates new laws requiring lengthy testing procedures that affect manufacturers of similar products for years to come. In the process, many useful new medicines are delayed or prevented from reaching the market, thus causing unnecessary deaths and suffering.

Governments create many of society’s greatest losses. At local, state and federal levels, layers of needless work accumulate. Anyone who has responded to proposal requests from government agencies has glimpsed the enormous waste potential built into their processes. Anyone who has waited in long tollbooth lines has experienced the elaborate systems designed to collect thousands of dollars while squandering millions in valuable time.

It would be instructive to extend total life-cycle costs to include this fifth level. What if government agencies had to prove that the value of the information they collected was greater than the costs of collecting it? What if tollbooths stopped operating every time the combined value of commuters’ waiting times exceeded the money being collected? If we could see an estimate of every appliance’s total life-cycle costs — energy use, maintenance and recycling cost — we’d very likely make quite different buying decisions.

Perhaps we’d greatly intensify our quality efforts if we had accurate estimates of all five levels of poor quality costs and understood the true effect of improving our processes and products.

About the author

A. Blanton Godfrey is chairman and CEO of Juran Institute Inc. at 11 River Road, Wilton, CT  06897.