Monday, January 9, 2012

Quality Resolutions – 2012

It’s a new year. And by now you may have set-up New Year’s resolutions to make improvements in your life. As Quality professionals, let’s look at six of the past centuries Quality Gurus and see what principles we should be reminded of in setting New Year’s resolutions for Quality Improvement. (The six gurus were featured in ASQ’s 2012 calendar. The principles noted below are only one small snippet of these great men’s contribution to quality. )

Armand Feigenbaum – TQM. TQM (Total Quality Management) recognizes that quality control, quality assurance, quality improvement are not stand alone programs for a separate department to run. To attain the goals of a “Quality Organization” the philosophies, methodologies, tools, etc. of quality must be integrated into the very fabric of all that an organization does to assure that the “customers” obtain the best products and services at the best prices with lowest level of defects. We need to continue to strive to assist our organizations to incorporate “quality” into the vision, mission and strategies of everything they do.

Phil Crosby – zero defects. Phil established that the only goal for defects was zero. The purpose was the mindset that said we should passionately strive for reducing errors, reworks, defects until they no longer exist. It is the goal of error-proofing. It is the goal of Six Sigma with its 3.4 defects per million opportunities. It should be our goal.
Edwards Deming – PDSA. The Plan – Do – Study – Act cycle has become a staple in many organizations repertoire of problem solving. It recognizes that continuous improvement has a process for planning the improvement process, carrying-out the plan, studying the results and then acting on the new information for the next round of improvements. It is a cycle with no end. The PDSA is the forerunner to DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control). Do you use an established process for making improvements in your organization?

Kaoru Ishikawa – Fishbone diagram. The Fishbone diagram (also known as the Cause & Effect or Ishikawa diagram) is a basic tool for starting a root cause analysis. It combines knowledge of a process with brainstorming activities to group ideas into common areas for further investigation. Used in conjunction with Affinity diagrams and the 5 Why Analysis this basic tool is a must for any initial problem solving activity. Are you using it regularly?

Joseph Juran – Pareto Chart. While the Pareto Chart is named for an Italian economist of the late 18th century, it is Joe Juran that understood its basic concept and applied it to practical problem solving. The 80 / 20 rule, while not a law of nature, is a significant concept in one’s ability to solve problems in a practical way. The bottom line is that we don’t have to fix all of the causes of an issue in order to make a significant impact on results. Make sure you are using this tool regularly in order to keep your sanity.

Walter Shewhart – Control Charts. Control charts are statistically
based so that we don’t over or under react to fluctuations in our processes. Some changes are just “noise” in a system and should be left alone. Other changes are specific in nature and should be investigated for root cause. The control chart should be used to assure that improvements in systems stay improved and don’t regress to the “old way.” Are they a staple in your arsenal of weapons for quality improvement?

So what do I see in these six Quality Guru’s approach to making a difference. Philosophies of TQM and Zero defects set the framework for making change. Having a methodology in PDSA to attack the issue assures me that I continuously and thoroughly resolve the root cause. Using tools such as the Fishbone diagram and the Pareto chart allow for digging deep into the problem. And finally, Control charts give me a measurement for monitoring my improvement which keeps me from regressing.
Are you using these philosophies, methodologies and tools to make improvement in your organization, your community and in your own life? If not resolve to do so in 2012.

by Thom Marra
ASQ Buffalo – Chair

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