ASQ - Six Sigma Forum

Mike Jolly, quality manager, Instrument Sales and Service Inc.

Mike Jolly

Mike Jolly, an ASQ member for about 25 years, is a quality manager at Instrument Sales and Service Inc. in Portland, OR. The company provides gauges for the automotive industry and others. He has a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of California-Irvine. 

Jolly recently answered questions about the importance of Six Sigma and why working in the quality field is so important.

What do you think is most important in implementing a Six Sigma project? 
It’s important to determine a definition, and clear project goals and expectations must be set to prevent mission creep.

Why do you think Six Sigma is important? 
Six Sigma is a formal method, allowing for clear problem statements, quantification, detailed review, methods for improvement and feedback loops for ensuring effectiveness of corrective action.

Why do you think quality is important? 
Quality is a given. Nothing else—such as cost, speed and intention—matters, as critical to quality situations are found in every critical needs and wants situation. Quality is really never negotiable with the customer, and no amount of defect or deviation from product performance or functional specifications are allowable. 

What’s your favorite benefit of quality? 
The ability to teach and learn, and thus continuously improve.  There is no one size fits all, but we all face very similar issues that can benefit by careful review and honest communication.

Why did you choose to go into the quality field? 
Quality addresses all aspects of the firm, including customer perception. Quality covers aspects from design, supplier management, production and integration, and customer use. Witnessing working issues from the customer back down the value chain is exciting and interesting. Documenting lessons learned that stay with you from one job or industry to another is key.

What’s your best advice to someone new to quality? 
Become certified, keep your certifications current, keep learning and keep an open mind.  Remember, you learn as much from your suppliers as you do from your customers.  See the best in people rather than the faults, and always seek to help them improve.  When I first started working, a Ph.D. mentor at International Rectifier gave me this advice that has served me well over the years: “Always be working yourself out of a job and you will never be without something to do.” Basically, it means look at the task at hand and resolve it in such a way that it is done is the most efficient manner.

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