Eyes on the prize: not just quality but integrity

P1000294-1024x768 Fuel port, Fighter

 Recently 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 always strive to make the best parts we can, as if our lives depended on it.


“There are no do-overs at 30000 feet.”

I heard this statement at a customer-hosted quality meeting years ago. It was something that stuck with me.

When I board a plane, I’ll glance at machined parts visible and familiar to me. I think about who might have made the part. How committed they are to what they do.

We approach every part we make as if we’ll be flying with it.

We approach every part with the mindset that we ourselves would be relying on that part.

The aerospace industry is a vast community of skilled, dedicated and highly trained professionals, all making stuff 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 goes a long way in dealing with the risks of when 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 to do it even better next time. Always and consistently. Day in, day out, month after month, year after year: 


Which is, by no means the same as quality. You won’t find the word integrity in AS9100.

You can theoretically have “quality” without integrity. We’ve all experienced dealing with a supplier that talked the talk, and even had the certifications to back it up. But when it came to actually providing it in product or service, they fell short. 

Good product is something you can’t fake.

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