File:1-Green peas.jpgMany times throughout my career, when investigating a particular problem, people have made comments along the lines of:

“But we’re the [Insert any industry name here] industry, our problems are unique, no-one has the same problems”

“The challenges of [Insert any job title] are different, no other role has these challenges”

Is this a valid assertion?

If you focus on the specific details of any situation or role, then you are likely to encounter combinations of problems and challenges that are rare or unique, however, in almost all circumstances many of the general aspects of a problem are not unique. You can therefore compare approaches and methodologies with other industries and sectors in order to identify proven approaches that can be adopted.

For example, whilst rail is a complex industry, one project I managed successfully utilised industry wide standards and approaches from other sectors when considering strategies for remote condition monitoring in order to develop an improved strategy.

Similarly, when working in the water industry, old timers frequently stated the “This is sewage treatment, it’s different” but in reality there were still many similarities to other sectors and approaches.

Are there any industries or sectors that are so different that you cannot adopt approaches from elsewhere?

Tagged on:     

2 thoughts on “But we’re different….

  • 31st May 2012 at 8:49 pm


    So true. I have heard this so many times, especially in the early days of introducing Quality Assurance. “That might work in their industry, but not here, we are different, we have different problems” was an oft heard phrase.

    This so reflects Einstein’s “You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.”

    When people cry out, “It can’t be done” they are really saying, “I don’t know how to do it (but can’t admit that)”

    This is now a widespread attitude in Data Quality, especially when the topic of zero defects arises. Then all of the phrases that I thought belonged to the past come pouring out.

    “Data is not a product”, “Data is multi-use, other products are not”, “That might work for cars but not for data”, etc., etc.

    Could the Data Quality world adopt approaches from other industries? Absolutely! Will it? Not until it starts to look for the similarities and not the differences!


  • 31st May 2012 at 9:12 pm


    Excellent reply, thank you.

    Sounds like you have been a fly on the wall on some of my projects! These attitudes are not restricted to data related issues but can be prevalent whenever change is being considered/introduced.

    What is also interesting is the reaction when an approach used successfully elsewhere and suitably adapted for a particular circumstance is presented – usually the response is very positive, particularly if it is either an ISO standard or an approach from a recognised leading organisation.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.