I was driving past a Volkswagen dealer during a 15-hour drive from Miami to New Orleans when my 9- and 10-year-old kids excitedly pointed out the old Beetle that was parked alongside a row of brand-new models. Ah, yes, I said, a clear case of brand reinforcement through product differentiation: The odd thing stands out. At another point in the trip, their $8 headsets broke at the plug. We analyzed this as a case of defective design, probably the result of poor cost analysis.

The sight of gas pumps whose nozzles were covered with bags was a case of poor demand forecasting within the supply chain. Then we got talking about the odometer on my Nissan Pathfinder: Is a car that can go 300,000 miles a case of over-engineering or TQM excellence? It was a debate worth at least 40 miles.



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