Workers are human and that suggests they will generally slip-up and make mistakes as a matter of course in their daily work routines! In fact, the majority of US workers, as reported by leading research organizations, are not able to successfully complete the day without encountering situations where some level and value of mistakes will be made! The aviation and medical industry sectors are high-stake environment examples, where it is generally understood  that it is not possible to depend on a do-over to rectify worker mistakes or faults. So, is 99.9% quality good enough in the workplace?

When worker lives and livelihoods, business success and, error-free customer interactions are at risk, being .01 percent wrong is not good enough! The corollary of allowing work standards to degrade in response to business pressures and employee behavior provides the background for potential business failure. Successful managers understand and appreciate how easy it is to fall into the ‘cycle of mediocrity’, and how arduous it is to retrain workers and reset their sights higher to totally embrace quality standards in their total individual and group work activities.

Chuck Swindoll, in his book, “The Finishing Touch, said:

“If goals are not set high, ‘’excellent’ is soon reduced to ‘acceptable’, which then slips to ‘adequate’, which, before long, settles at ‘mediocre”

The act of setting organizational “acceptable” level of faults, mistakes, errors, spoilage, waste, and, accordingly, an equivalent level of disgruntled customers is a ruse that can lure an otherwise well-managed business into the kind of business quagmire where customer reputation and loyalty can quickly erode with severe financial consequences.

If the 99.99% quality metric was used as a standard in the workplace the below outcomes are possible.

  • 119,760 income tax returns will be processed incorrectly this year.
  • 144 incorrect medical procedures will be performed today.
  • 110,600 mismatched pairs of shoes will be shipped this year.
  • 18 babies will be given to the wrong parents each day.
  • 23,666 defective computers will be shipped this year.
  • 22,792 pieces of mail will be mishandled in the next hour.
  • 2,434,300 books will be shipped in the next 12 months with the wrong cover.
  • 20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions will be written in the next 12 months.
  • 56,700 checks will be deducted from the wrong bank accounts in the next hour.
  • 567 pacemaker operations will be performed incorrectly this year.
  • 315 entries in the most recent Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language (unabridged) will turn out to be misspelled.
  • 69 malfunctioning ATM’s will be installed in the next 12 months.
  • 810 commercial airline flights would crash every month.
  • 880,000 credit cards in circulation will turn out to have incorrect cardholder information on their magnetic strips.
  • Two million documents will be lost by the IRS this year.
  • Two plane landings daily at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago will be unsafe.

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