David Hammond, director of process improvement, WesleyLife
David Hammond, an ASQ member since 2001, is the director of process improvement at WesleyLife, a nonprofit in Johnston, IA. WesleyLife offers a wide variety of services to older adults, including retirement communities, in-home health, rehabilitative care, adult day centers and hospice care. As director of process improvement, Hammond’s primary responsibilities involve integrating lean and Six Sigma into the business environment.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and a master’s degree in systems engineering from Iowa State University in Ames. He is an ASQ certified quality engineer and Six Sigma Master Black Belt.
Hammond recently answered questions about the importance of quality and Six Sigma.
What do you think is most important in implementing a Six Sigma project?
There are several items necessary for project success: project selection, team makeup and buy-in, and scope management. Still, I believe the most significant aspect is strong and unwavering support from upper management.
Why do you think Six Sigma is important?
Six Sigma was developed with the intention of driving bottom-line financial results. Regardless of industry, companies that have successfully integrated Six Sigma into their culture have put themselves at a financial advantage against those that have not. History has shown that this is often enough of a difference between growing and being highly profitable versus failing to survive. In the current era of recession and increased global competition, this has never been more important.
Why do you think quality is important?
Consumer expectations continue to increase, with quality becoming more of a perceived expectation than a luxury. In addition to quality’s hard dollar values, there are many other costs that directly contribute to the bottom line but are simply more difficult to quantify. Toyota, for example, has historically had such a high reputation for quality that its sales continued to grow without having to make the same price cuts as its competitors. Toyota’s recent and highly publicized quality problems have put a black mark on its brand, the financial result of which will be far greater than just the costs of the recall.
What's your favorite benefit of quality?
I enjoy the satisfaction that comes with successfully implementing a process improvement project or addressing a quality issue.
Why did you choose to go into the quality field?
I personally enjoy the variety the field offered. While most disciplines tend to be more focused, my career in quality has introduced me to many different experiences: process design, supplier selection, product design, lean, HR, service quality and operations management.
What's your best advice to someone new to quality?
The best advice I could pass along to someone just entering the field of quality is to learn the technical side well and apply it using a heavy dose of common sense. As much as people often want quality to be black and white, the reality is that it is often a very gray area. Quality practitioners who choose their battles are typically more likely to be listened to than those who try to challenge everything. Being tenacious and detailed, along with practical and realistic, are key components to being successful.