Well-intentioned but ill-informed actions usually compromise quality

Once upon a time, a man saw a small opening in a
cocoon, from where a moth was trying to emerge. For
several hours, the moth was struggling to come out. After
some more time, half of the body of the moth came out,
while the other half remained inside the cocoon. Some more
time passed and yet, the moth failed to come out. The body
of the moth was swollen and it failed to budge even a little.

The man took pity on the moth and decided to help. Taking
a pair of scissors, the man carefully made the opening
of the cocoon slightly bigger. Very easily, the moth came out,
but with a swollen body and shriveled wings.

In his kindness, the man did not realize that by helping
the moth, he had actually hurt him. The struggle of coming
out of the cocoon, forces the fluid from the body of the
moth to its wings, thereby making his body lean and his
wings strong to fly. Since the moth was deprived of this
struggle, the moth crawled with a swollen body and was not
able to fly.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time: 100 Management Stories” by Rajen Jani

Quality solves the trade-off between margins and sales

Once upon a time, a businessman was thinking how to
solve the problem of the trade-off, between margins and

He thought if the margins are increased, profitability
increases but sales may decrease. With decreased sales, the
increase in profitability is balanced out and is thus,
ineffective. If the margins are decreased, sales may increase
but profitability decreases. With decreased profitability, the
increase in sales is balanced out and is thus, ineffective. He
faced the challenge of increasing the margins, so that the
profitability also increases correspondingly, while ensuring
that the sales should not decrease at all.

While thinking, he glanced around and saw sunlight
entering through his glass-covered window. He thought that
long ago, a similar problem was faced by people who wanted
both light and heat to come in their homes. They made holes
in the walls and thereby created windows, which would let
both light and heat come in the rooms. Through the
windows, sunlight came in, but during rainy and winter
months, rains and cold also came in. If they closed the
windows, then rain and cold were blocked, but sunlight was
also blocked and the room became dark. Thereafter, glass
was invented. With this invention, people started to have
windows made of glass. The glass blocked the rain and cold,
while allowing sunlight, thereby keeping the room bright and

Thus, in deep thought, he concluded that the trade-off
between light and heat, was solved with the invention of
glass. Similarly, the trade-off between margins and sales, can
be solved by innovations in quality. Thereafter, he improved
the quality of his products. With improved quality, his
margins increased, profitability increased and his sales did
not decrease, rather it also increased.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time: 100 Management Stories” by Rajen Jani

A positive change in approach improves quality

Once upon a time, a coach was showing to the players, a
video of the first match that the players had recently lost.
While the video was running, the coach paused it wherever
the players had committed some mistake. Then he analyzed
the mistake step by step and thereby, instructed the players
to avoid the mistake in the second match.

In the second match, the players did not make the same
mistakes, but made other mistakes and the team lost again.
The next day, the coach showed the video of the second
match and again analyzed all the mistakes, so that the team
does not repeat them in the third match.

Unfortunately, the team also lost the third match due to
several mistakes, which were different from the mistakes of
the first or the second matches.

The coach observed that the number of mistakes were
increasing with each successive match. He concluded that
focusing on mistakes led the players to commit more
mistakes. He decided to change his method of instruction.
This time while showing the video, he paused at those places
where the players did not make a mistake, and analyzed how
they had improved to not make a mistake. He suggested the
players to make further improvements in the fourth match.

The team won the fourth match. The next day, while
showing the video of the match, again the coach focused on
discussing those moves that the players played correctly,
rather than those moves, which they played incorrectly.

The team won the fifth match also. The coach noticed
that the overall number of mistakes were now decreasing. He
concluded that focusing on failures generated fatigue, blame
and a feeling of hopelessness among the players. While
focusing on successes generated passion, creativity and the
desire to succeed in a better way.

Due to this change in instruction, the players improved
with every match, and they also won the finals.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time: 100 Management Stories” by Rajen Jani

The quality of the product is inseparable from the quality of its parts

Once upon a time, a little wave was cruising on the
ocean and enjoying itself. Then as it slowly approached the
shore, it saw the waves in front of him were crashing on the
rocks. Seeing such an end, the wave became depressed.

Another wave noticed that the first wave was depressed
and asked him, “Why have you become so slack?”

The first wave replied, “Look ahead, I am going to crash.
I will no longer be a wave.”

The second wave said, “But you are not a wave, you are
the ocean.”

The first wave asked, “How is that?”

The second wave replied, “Collecting some of its water,
the ocean becomes a wave. Then the wave crashes and again
becomes the ocean. You were the ocean earlier and after
crashing also, you will remain the ocean.”

The first wave said, “But crashing is so sorrowful.”

The second wave replied, “Only if you think you are a
wave and forget that you are the ocean.”

The first wave understood and without sorrow, crashed
on the rocks.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time: 100 Management Stories” by Rajen Jani

Quality is all about taking care of the details

Once upon a time, a CEO wanted to enhance the quality
procedures at his factory. So he invited a technical expert,
who after touring the factory and holding meetings with the
production managers, came up with a thick manual of quality
control to be implemented at the factory.

It was more than 600 pages of A4 size and printed on
both sides. It was highly detailed and extremely specific
about the entire production process, right from selection of
raw materials to the final finished product. The expert
presented the manual to the CEO, who wondered whether
the production managers would read it at all or not. The
expert suggested including some rule in it, which would
demonstrate whether the manual was actually read or not.

To ensure that the production managers read every line
of the manual, deeply embedded within the pages, was added
a small rule which stated, “At the factory, the reception desk
should have a vase having a bunch of roses, every Monday,
Wednesday, and Friday; and a bunch of tulips, every
Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.”

The CEO then called the production managers and
handed the thick manual to them, for their perusal. After
some time, when the production managers reported that
they had gone through the manual, the CEO asked them
which type of flowers did they put on the reception desk that
day? The production managers were confused and could not
answer. The CEO asked them to go through the manual

Few days later, the production managers said that they
had read the rule regarding the roses and tulips, to be put on
the reception desk on alternate days. Now, the CEO knew
that they had read each line of the manual and asked them,
to proceed with its due implementation.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time: 100 Management Stories” by Rajen Jani