Q: Is it possible to aim for high quality at a low cost? Doesn’t quality have a price?

– Liebermann, Pasay City

A: It takes a lot of creativity to achieve this result, but it’s not impossible.

This was what the Japanese were good at, and which eventually helped them to rise to the position of economic power following Japan’s devastation in WWII. They showed that only a sustained effort of pursuing quality can result in reduced manufacturing costs. A good example is their practice of producing products to the correct specifications the first time through, which constantly eliminates costly rework and wastage. The impact of this approach to “high quality, low cost” was seen in the late 1970s and early 1980s when the Japanese gained substantial leadership in producing small, compact and inexpensive passenger vehicles. It’s simply a matter of “doing it right the first time.”

Apply this principle in what you do, and enjoy the benefits it will produce.

R.A.H. Elbo is the managing advisor of Kairos Management Technologies and acting president of Kaizen Institute of the Philippines, both consulting and training companies.