Qality Matters!

“Hold on, let me write that down.”  Rupert clutched the phone between his shoulder and cheek, then leaned across his desk to grab a memo pad and a pen.  “OK, go ahead.”  A voice spoke in his ear and he scribbled.  “Got it, thanks.”  He terminated the call and looked at his note.  “Thursday at seven,” he mumbled and wrote on his desk calendar.

Then he looked back at the print on the memo pad.  It read, ‘Qality Matters!’  Underneath, in smaller letters, was ‘Tip #233: Qualaty problems? Try rearranging your Executive Teem!’  Along the bottom of the pad in small letters was ‘Nebraka is for louvers’ [1]

He punched a speed dial button and asked, “Tricia, where did we get these memo pads?”

The voice of Tricia answered, “Someone I know got a ton of them from Novartis for free.  I think they had lots of layoffs at the plant and didn’t want the pads any more.”

“Novartis had layoffs?” Rupert asked.  “Why?”

“Quality issues, that’s all I know.  I thought all you execs keep track of pharma industry goings-on.  I sure don’t.”

Rupert hung up, turned to his computer, and googled ‘Novartis quality.’  This led to several hits including a Forbes article about manufacturing gaffes.  Panicked, he dug through the Cappuccino Pharmaceuticals directory to find a quality department.  His fingers danced on the phone’s touchpad and made several mistakes before he dialed correctly.  Finally a voice announced he had reached Quality Control.

“Hello, this is Rupert.  Get me the head of Quality Control,” he said.

“Rupert? Who the heck is Rupert?”

“I’m your CEO, who are you?”  Rupert began to sweat.

“My CEO?” the voice said.  “I’m a contract employee from Temp-O-Lab, my CEO is someone named Jane.”  The voice paused.  “Here, you should talk to Mr. Caldez.”

“This is James Caldez, may I help you?” a new voice said.

“This is Rupert Madasheck.  How good is the quality at Cappuccino?” Rupert asked.  “Are we square with the FDA and all that?”

There was a long pause.  Finally the voice asked, “You’re the CEO?  You realize this is Quality Control, right?  You might want another department.”

“If I want to know about quality around here, of course I want Quality Control,” Rupert said.  “Don’t I?”  He realized that was a bad question.  Never show fear or indecision, he thought.  Show clear, direct leadership no matter what.  Too late.

“Well, there’s Quality Assurance,” the voice said.  “Then there’s Software Quality Management.  And Quality and Audit Control.  And Quality and Compliance, Quality Control Receiving, Design Quality, Supplier Quality, Process Quality-”

Rupert’s hands shook violently.  “Alright, thanks,” he said and hung up.  He quickly dialed the Legal Department and asked Sosumi Ciyuencourt, “Are we being sued for anything?  Anything like kickback schemes?”

Sosumi spoke after a brief pause.  “No.  I do not believe we are being sued for anything of consequence at the moment.  Why do you ask?  We weren’t giving rebates to pharmacies if they switch patients to our drugs, were we?” [2]

That night he dreamt of being stuck in a Dilbert comic with ‘Qality Matters!’ memo pads dancing around him. [3]  It was the same nightmare he suffered for the last 23 years or more.  Will it never end?

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