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“QUALITY IS FREE – The Art of Making Quality Certain” Philip B. Crosby wrote the book with this title and published it in 1979 (NAL Penguin). And still, companies don’t get it. Lean Six Sigma is all about quality. In fact, it is possible to build in quality, speed the delivery of products, and decrease operational costs all at the same time.  Yes, adopt Lean Six Sigma.

As a simple example I’m going to compare two companies that both made a washcloth. You may be starting to laugh already because how hard can it be to make a washcloth. You will see below how something as simple as a washcloth can be very different in quality even when manufactured by brand name companies. I have some ideas, but I’m not going to speculate on how this happened. Let’s take a look.

The bad example first. The most glaring quality issue is obvious to the most casual observer. If you must have a tag, do you want to put it on the side of the washcloth that will be facing into the room or would it make more sense to put the tag at the opposite end so nobody sees it?

Figure 1. Difference in manufacturer placement of tag.



When you hang the wash cloth with the decorative side out, one of the wash clothes also gives you a tag to look at.

The second issue, that may not be obvious because these are not your washcloths, is that the stitching is coming undone. Even though this washcloth has been used much less than the other washcloth.

Figure 2. Bad manufacturer has thread coming out of all four corners and one side.


The good example. This washcloth has the tag sewn at the end opposite the decorative end. Also, while this washcloth has been wrung extensively, its sewing is still intact.

Figure 3. Good manufacturer has no thread coming out anywhere even though it has had much heavier use.

Hotel Washcloth


Though I don’t know if the “good example” customer was using Lean Six Sigma, I know for sure the “bad example” customer was not.

Don’t even let me get started on the iron that I purchased from a famous small electric tool manufacturer. Imagine how surprised I was when I press the button on the front of the iron to spray some water on my shirt and it shot the water straight out the front missing the shirt and the whole ironing board. Washcloths and irons are not new cutting-edge technologies.  How do you compete without quality?


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