Quality vs. Integrity

This morning an email from a customer was brought to my attention. Excerpted:

“Please keep bidding on contracts too.  We need good suppliers like you that make us look good!!!!

It’s really a good feeling when a customer acknowledges your effort. We really try to make not just compliant parts,  but we try to make the best parts we can.

The aerospace industry, which we are part of, is a vast community of skilled, dedicated and highly trained professionals that do the kind of work where a defect can have fatal results.  A good quality system is essential for making sure that risks are minimized when sending things and people into the air and into space.   AS9100, the quality standard to which we are held to and  that we’re certified to, goes a long way in dealing with the risks of things going wrong.

Yet it really doesn’t address a core requirement, which is essentially the simple commitment, and follow through, of not just doing your best work every time, but doing it even better next time. Always. Day in, day out, month after month, year after year: Integrity. Which is by no means the same as quality. You won’t find the word integrity in AS9100.

You can have “quality” without integrity. We’ve all experienced a supplier that talked the talk, and even had the certifications to back it up. But when it came time to actually proving it in product or service, they fell short. And that’s something you can’t fake.

And no matter what it is you do, You can’t have integrity without creating quality. If you work with integrity, the quality will follow naturally.

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