Too Many Types of Quality Problems


Smith, Gerald F.   (2000, ASQ)  

Quality Progress    Vol. 33    No. 4
QICID: 13929    April 2000    pp. 43-49

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Article Abstract

Categorizing problem types can help practitioners in the quality field to focus their attention on relevant past experiences and problem solving techniques. This approach requires the definition of appropriate problem categories and communicating them effectively to problem solvers. After being defined, categories may be organized in a problem taxonomy, which represents a formal classification plan that differentiates among problems according to certain key characteristics. While various categorizing schemes have been introduced, none have been widely adopted. Among the most useful is the plan proposed by Federick Nickols. Nickols identified three types of problems or tasks: repair problems, improvement problems, and engineering problems. Nickols' taxonomy addresses problems with performance systems, structures, and processes created to promote human well-being. Research on quality problem solving suggests that a taxonomy of quality problems would include five types of problems: conformance problems, unstructured performance problems, efficiency problems, product design problems, and process design problems. Practitioners who are responsible for resolving quality problems can benefit from being aware of these problem types. Their awareness allows them to recognize key problem solving tasks and to select the tools and techniques most appropriate for addressing these tasks.


Quality tools,Quality awareness,Problem solving,Jargon

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