Quality Control - TQM, Six Sigma, ISO 9000/Quality Control
Mr. Kapil Kumar and Mr. Abbas Ali were working in a scooter manufacturing public sector industry as Senior Quality Control Engineers in 1988. One post of Deputy Chief Quality Controller has fallen vacant due to the retirement of the incumbent and the management decided to recruit a qualified, knowledgeable and experienced professional from outside so that the present quality standard may be improved thus ensuring better marketability of their scooters in the face of stiff competition. Mr. Kapil Kumar, who was a mechanical engineer with about 15 years experience in the Quality Control Department dealing with mopeds and scooters, could have been promoted to fill the post on the basis of seniority. However, the management was looking for a graduate in statistics with experience in latest Quality Control (QC) techniques like statistical quality control, quality assurance and other related areas rather than a mechanical or automobile engineer with the routine experience in quality control. As such instead of promoting Kapil Kumar, the management advertised for the post of Deputy Chief Quality Controller - since as per company rules it was DR (Direct Recruitment) vacancy also.
Selection of Outsider
Out of the applications received in response to the advertisement, six candidates were called for interview including the two internal candidates, Mr. Kapil Kumar and Mr. Abbas Ali. The person selected was an outsider, one Mr. Ratnam, who had over 12 years experience SQC, quality assurance etc., in the two-wheeler private manufacturing industry. Mr. Ratnam joined within 2 months time expecting that in his new position he would be the main controller for quality. However, after joining the organization he came to know that he would be the second senior most person in the hierarchy for controlling the quality and would be reporting to one, Kirpal Sing,. The Chief for Quality Controls. Mr. Kirpal Singh had come up to this post by seniority and was basically a diploma holder in automobile engineering. He had to his credit about 28 years of industrial experience, out of which 20 years were spent in Quality Control Department of two industries. He joined the present organization in its Quality Control Department and had 17 years experience in the organization and was due for retirement within the next 2 or 3 years. On learning about the retirement time of Mr. Kirpal Singh, Mt. Ratnam had the consolation that he would be able to take up the position of 'Chief Controller of Quality' very soon.
Interference from Top
Ratnam could not put forth many good suggestions (for quality control) because of the interference and direct supervision of Kirpal Singh. He, however, could pick up a good deal of knowledge about the working of the company, the nature-and tendency of different production department heads particularly with regard to care for quality, organization for 'QC' in the company, the various components required for assembly of the company's two-wheeler scooter and the expected quality standards, drawback in the present system of quality controls. etc.
Right from the time the advertisement for the selection of Deputy Chief Quality Controller appeared, the O.A. (Officers Association) of the organization had been pressing the management to consider the case of Kapil Kumar for promotion to the above post based on his seniority in the organization.
Meanwhile, the management obtained a license in 1989 for producing Three-Wheeler Autos. As a result of this and the pressure from O.A., Ratnam was transferred to look after the Quality Control Department at the company's new Three-Wheeler plant, whereas Kapil Kumar was promoted as Deputy Chief Quality Controller in the present two-wheeler scooter plant in 1990 (after creating one additional post of Deputy Chief Quality Controller for the new Project).
In 1991, the State Government, which controlled the company in question, changed the Managing Director. During the regime of this new Managing Director, Kapil Kumar was promoted as Chief (Quality Controls) next year, when Kirpal Singh retired. This decision was based on the recommendations of Kirpal Singh and partly attributed to pressure from O.A., for further promotion of Kapil Kumar based on his vast experience in the Quality Control function of this industry. Abbas Ali rose to the position held earlier by Kapil Kumar.
Allotment of Company Quarters
The Company had its own township near the factory. Its quarter allotment scheme was based on the length of service, i.e., date of joining. Ratnam had asked for a suitable quarter at the time of interview and was thus allotted a tile quarter meant for the Senior Engineer's cadre. He learnt about this, after occupying the quarter. Ratnam asked for a change of Quarter - preferably a RCC-roof quarter, - but his request was turned down, since he had put in only few months of service whereas many others senior to him, on the beds of their longer length of service in the Company (having over 10 years service), were staying in tiled-roof quarters and were awaiting a chance for a RCC-roof quarter. Kapil Kumar and Abbas Ali were residing in RCC-roof quarters. Soon after Kapil Kumar's promotion to the post of Chief (Quality Controls), he was allotted a bungalow.
The management's decision in this case must be viewed in the context of the downtrend in the demand for scooters and three-wheeler autos during 1993 following complaints from dealers about the deteriorating quality of components as also their short life. Notably the complaints had risen ten-fold in that year as compared to that in 1988.
(a) Was the management justified in taking a decision to recruit a qualified and experienced person from outside as Deputy Chief Quality Controller?
(b) Was it in the interest of the organization to transfer Ratnam to the new auto-wheeler plant and promote Kapil Kumar? What could have prompted the management to take this decision?
(c) How do you view the role of O.A.s in supporting only the local and internal candidates and overlooking the interests of direct recruits even when they were family members of the Association, particularly at a time, when the industry needed professionally qualified persons to fill key technical posts?
(d) How would you react to the management's scheme for quarter allotment and why?
First any company must look for the most qualified individual to fill open positions when someone retires or leaves a company. This may not necessarily mean the best individual will be found outside the organization. In some cases but not all cases an organization needs new blood into an organization to provide a new perspective on what the company is doing right and what the company is doing wrong in relation to the products or service.
To answer your first question whether the management was justified in taking a decision to recruit a qualified and experienced person outside as Deputy Chief Quality Controller here is my perspective. It depends on the processes in place within the organization. If the policy has been to promote from within giving others the opportunity for advancement in the organization the decision was wrong. If the policy was to always look for the best qualified for a position then they were within their rights. It is a difficult situation and based on the information you provided I would like to add that individuals can have experience in specific areas which may qualify an individual but it does not necessarily mean they can do the job. Experience is one thing but expertise is another. Individuals within an organization may in many cases have the necessary skills to perform specific functions when openings surface but it is totally up to an organization how they approach filling a vacancy.
You second question regarding whether it was in the interest of the organization to transfer Ratnam depends on many variables for which the details of the basis for the decision was not provided. Whether it was in the interest of the organization can only be determined based on how he performs in his new duties.
The third question about the role of Q.A. in supporting local and internal candidates and overlooking the interest of direct recruits my response is as follows. The job of Q.A. is promote individuals for positions which will provide the best possible individual to perform the requirements of any position. If it was management who made the decision without getting input from QA or ignoring their input then the decision may not have been the wrong one.
To answer your last question about a quarter allotment system I do not have any understanding of such a process and therefore cannot provide any response in this area.