McGill, Bruce K. (1989, ASQC) Eastman Kodak Co., Windsor, CO
There are two barriers to full implementation of continuous improvement concepts. There are too many tools and philosophies available, and there is no guidance on how to select the ones to use in a given environment.
Each quality "guru" has an implementation strategy. Each of these has a proven track record. Examples of successful implementation abound. Why then can't we translate success in one environment to success in a different environment?
What seems to be missing is a theoretical basis for continuous improvement. If that basis is known, successful methods from one environment can be translated into methods applicable to another environment.
The theoretical base proposed here comes from an emerging discipline called Chaos. Chaos describes the origins of variability in our processes. All variability arises from interactions, either in space or in time. Three principles emerge to reduce the effect of those interactions; simplify the process, look at it holistically, and look at it as a flow rather than as a set of static operations.
To look a the process holistically, Systems Theory is used. When processes are described by the four attributes; hierarchy, emergence, communications, and control, they can be simplified. Based on the Systems Theory description of the process, the flow can be designed to minimize interactions.
Chaos and Systems Theory give us a generic path to the understanding of our processes. Further, they tell us what kinds of improvements to make, and what tools to use to make them.
Part I of this paper establishes the theoretical basis for the variability of our processes. Based on this theory, it also suggests what must be done to reduce the variability. Part II establishes a method for applying that theory to implement continuous improvements in any process.
Chemical and process industries