After Toyota, now Dell

July 1, 2010

Things calmed down for car maker Toyota over the last couple of months following the problem of unintended acceleration in some of its vehicles that we commented on previously in this blog. Now, computer giant Dell is under attack. While its computers are certainly not suffering from an unintended acceleration problem, quality has become a rapidly growing problem. As the below cited NYT article describes, Dell’s recent quality problems are driven largely by component problems (faulty capacitors). Remarkably though, Dell took a similar approach to dealing with its quality crisis as did Toyota. Instead of creating transparency, the company created confusion.
Both tales of defects and poor quality (Dell and Toyota) show that increased product complexity paired with growing cost pressure is an explosive cocktail. Since both of these forces are unlikely to go away in the coming years, the next quality crisis is only a matter of time.