A reader writes: “I appreciate your comments about zero defects in custodial operations but how do we achieve such a high goal in the real world?”

In my research on this subject I have found that achieving zero defects in custodial is an attitude and a never-ending journey of striving, learning and striving some more. Many people equate zero defects to the concept of perfection which is an incorrect assumption. Zero defects has more to do with fulfilling written specifications in certain areas whereas perfection has to do with 100 percent complete (aka perfect) in every way.

I do not believe it is possible to achieve perfection in custodial operations unless there are unlimited resources to throw at the challenge. Perfection is completely achieving and sustaining an operation or outcome indefinitely; whereas zero defects is focused on fulfilling the requirements that satisfy the stated standard in a specific time.

Achieving zero defects has to do with standardized training systems that have a formula that when performed completely will satisfy the prescribed outcome to the inspector. In a simple example, it is possible to completely clean/stock/disinfect a rest room so that a swab test who document no pathogens present for a brief period of time until someone uses the rest room, the a/c kicks on or other event would introduce pathogens back into the atmosphere and surfaces. I should note that it is far more expensive to maintain a clean room than it is to clean an ordinary office although both can be considered “clean” based on pre-established criteria.

I encourage you to review your current training processes and evaluate the current results based on the challenge of working towards zero defects. In the process, you must recognize that unless you are in a bubble or a clean room environment, you will be constantly working towards this laudable goal. How do you know when you have achieved zero defects? For a rest room to truly be graded as zero defects, every square inch would have to be cleaned and inspected. I do not believe that in most custodial operations you can do so; however, you can strive towards very high standards that can be documented by means of inspections, swab tests, etc. that in themselves may not be perfect.

Your comments and feedback are always appreciated. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.