Santa Cruz Guitar Company
Shaun Medsker
BSOL 355
Quality Management
August 20, 2012
Leslie
Dr. W. Edwards Deming is one of the godfathers of modern quality. Through him and
others work quality was changed around the globe (Evans and Lindsay, 2011). One of the
methods that Deming used to improve quality was establishing his 14 Points. Santa Cruz Guitar
Company (SCGC) shows several of Deming’s 14 Points despite not having a formal quality
department (Evans and Lindsay, 2011).
One of the first practices at SCGC that reflects one of Deming’s points is SCGC luthiers
are encouraged to enhance their skills and try to find better ways to operate. This goes in line
with Deming’s 1st Point: Create a Vision and Demonstrate Commitment. Although Deming’s
point can also mean that a business’ purpose is to serve customers and provide the community
with jobs (Evans and Lindsay, 2011), I believe this practice applies here as well. Allowing
employees to experiment with new techniques to become more efficient in building shows a
commitment to long-term sustainability and opportunity for personal growth.
Another method that applies Deming’s 4th point is SCGC only using the highest grades of
tonewoods and forming the wood by hand, rather than by machine (Evans and Lindsay, 2011).
The 4th point is to Stop Making Decisions Purely on the Basis of Cost. One way to apply
Deming’s point is to reduce your number of suppliers; therefore, reducing setup cost, volume
discounts, and the likelihood of variation; but, it can also be applied to achieving the highest
possible quality of product, despite the increased cost. According to their website, SCGC feels
that the wood they use is superior to the wood of their competitors because it is naturally aged
and comes from the best suppliers in the world. SCGC chooses to heat the wood and bend it by
hand rather than machine because the wood is more likely to hold its shape, which increases
tonal and overall quality (Evans and Lindsay, 2011).
One of the most important points of emphasis in Deming’s 14 Points is Improve
Constantly and Forever. Improvements in operations are accomplished by “engaging all
employees to innovate and seek ways of doing their jobs more efficiently and effectively”, which
is exactly what SCGC does (Evans and Lindsay, 2011, p. 101). Each luthiers at SCGC writes
down what they did while building the top of the guitar, and after final assembly and the guitar is
played the luthiers is notified of the quality of the sound (Evans and Lindsay, 2011). If the sound
is exceptional, the luthier checks his or her notes so the process can be duplicated.
The Santa Cruz Guitar Company also applies the principles of Deming’s 12th and 13th
points by allowing employees to build 2 instruments per year for their personal use, encouraging
additional external training and encouraging the luthiers to open their own business (Evans and
Lindsay, 2011). Deming’s 12th Point is Remove Barriers to Pride in Workmanship and the 13th
is Encourage Education and Self-Improvement. Allowing employees to build 2 instruments per
year creates pride because the workers will care about something they are making for
themselves. In turn, they will be more likely to think outside of the box for what they want, and
improve processes. This point is also emphasized by only hiring people who are passionate
about the guitar-making business.
SCGC highlights self-improvement through training and encouraging workers to start
their own business. Training allows employees to broaden their job-specific skill-set and also
keeps the individual motivated to keep improving (Evans and Lindsay, 2011). Encouraging
luthiers to master their craft and then start their own business can also benefit the company. The
luthiers would be passionate and talented and could make a difference at SCGC in their time
there.
References
Evans, J. R., & Lindsay, W. M. (2011). Managing for quality and performance excellence (8th
ed.) Cengage Learning.
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