Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why You Must Adhere to Standards

A little story about Charles Fraser-Smith.

His first order was to produce 100 Spanish Army uniforms, in case the Special Operations Executive (SOE) needed to infiltrate agents into Spain to prevent the neutral Spain entering the war on the side of Germany.

He sent out a sample of the cloth to a leading textile firm, specifying that the fabric be "thick, coarse, cheap and nasty". Unfortunately the manufacturer decided to be patriotic and sent back a sample roll of a much finer cloth, with a note saying that he shouldn't be bothered about the extra expense as it would be absorbed "on Britain's behalf". The roll was returned by Fraser-Smith with a note stressing the need to specify the material as specified, but it still took three attempts before a suitable fabric arrived.

Of course, part of the problem is that Fraser-Smith didn't necessarily tell his manufacturers where the products were going to go. Some stakeholders can't be trusted.

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