I am just coming back from China – I am back if you can read this – and am confused and frustrated at the amount of censorship in the country. Obviously Facebook and Twitter are banned, but it appears that so is my blog and the website “cmmi.info” which I sponsor. Neither one of those sites has any significant criticism of the glorious communist party of China, their fearless leaders or the magnificent red army, but someone in China appears to have decided that talking about quality was subversive and anti-revolutionary and must be kept from ordinary, computer-literate people.
Most Chinese companies are more interested in keeping costs down and getting many certificates rather than actually producing quality products or services. The lack of understanding of what the rest of the world is doing encourages the feeling that all is well and they are leading the world. When I mentioned that I was working the largest manufacturer in the world in a particular industry, they were amazed to hear that this was not a Chinese company.
China has built their economic success by being cheap. They can make things cheaper than the rest of the world and, because of this, have taken over the lion’s share of world manufacturing. Management continues to believe that estimating the time it takes to do the work well is not important, because delays are covered by unpaid overtime – and there are enough people in China to replace anyone who complains. Skilled workers, experienced workers are not seen as something important because, once they have been trained, they will leave and work for the competition. Training is not encouraged as it is an expense, not an investment. But, we are reaching the point when Chinese workers want the same luxuries and salaries as the West and this is pushing up prices. And this may lead to the downfall of the Chinese economy sooner than expected. Blocking communication and knowledge does not help people be creative or productive. Arrogance does not promote success. Some other country, cheaper than China, is going to emerge soon – this might be Botswana, Azerbaijan or some other emerging economy. Of course, the Chinese still have the advantage of a vast number of disposable people; and they benefit from the skills which the West has exported, outsourced, lost and forgotten.
I have been approached by a government-sponsored organization whose role is to get 500 companies in the town of Wuhan to pass CMMI maturity level appraisals. They speak of quality but are only interested in getting companies to pass the maturity level and are providing substantial financial incentives to get the result. When I explained that this would not improve quality, but encourage cheating and creating fictional artefacts just for the appraisal, they were not interested: the government told them to get organizations to pass maturity levels, and that is the end of the story. This appears to be fairly typical: they believe that if they can wave a certificate, everyone will know that they are producing quality and keep coming back for more.China needs to understand the value of the human and encourage free communication; otherwise, as they inevitably raise their prices, the West will find they can get cheaper or better quality elsewhere.