Quick Improvement Results: Shortcuts or Strategy?

Article

Marcum, Billie R.   (1990, ASQC)   Hughes Aircraft Company, El Segundo, CA

Annual Quality Congress, San Francisco, CA    Vol. 44    No. 0
QICID: 9468    May 1990    pp. 309-314
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Article Abstract

Yes, we all know by now that the person who does the job can best detect, analyze, and provide solutions for his or her own work-related problems. And, yes, we have all read about the many exciting product improvements that have been accomplished through teams of hands-on personnel. The many successful techniques being used range from organized and facilitated teams to totally empowered personnel at all levels who analyze and resolve their ownwork-related problems ad hoc.

And now, perhaps reflective of urgent needs, there are those who are saying that once an employee-involved improvement program is sanctioned by executive management, improvement teams will just naturally start popping up all over. And, this will all supposedly happen without much planning, training, or structure. The contention is that such tasks must move out fast without these elements because it takes too long to properly plan a program and then train personnel to operate in teams; that management will lose interest before any results can be seen.

It is the objective of this paper to present the case for the good planning and training that are essential to the efficient operation of improvement teams. Through the use of an actual case history, it will be shown how relatively quickly the needed training can be provided, as well as how important it is to perform simple, behind-the-scenes planning. Task documentation needs and techniques will also be discussed.

The success of the task described in the case history was largely a function of strategy, and the macro implication of this micro example is that the approach can be repeated simultaneously or sequentially across an entire organization. The appeal of this paper is that, in our haste to adopt, internalize and perpetuate the extremely beneficial concepts of Total Quality, let us not gloss over the tools implicit in these concepts. Yes, we are moving slowly, and many people still do not recognize the true crisis nature of the need to move into a Total Quality environment. But, regardless of our need to move rapidly, Total Quality tools must be applied with care and innovation. Omitting basic steps in their implementation will not produce optimum results; can even lead to failure. These long existing, excellent tools do not need any more black eyes due to misapplication; the process has had a few of those.

Better ways and quicker ways to implement Total Quality tools need not be mutually exclusive. And it is proposed that "strategy" is the key to the formation of this important partnership.

Keywords

Aviation industry,Case study,Defense industry,Space


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