Amendment Offered For Lean Glossary

The distinctions between baka yoke and poka yoke, as presented in the “Lean Glossary” (June, 2005, p. 41), should be amended. The two terms refer to the same corrective action, but with this difference: baka in Japanese means stupid. Thus, bakayoke refers to devices or procedures that protect the operator from stupidity, or stupid mistakes. It is not a good idea to toss such a negative term around—one sure to embarrass and anger the involved employees. Poka is also negative but with a human touch, as in, “Oh no ... I forgot my cell phone!”

I had been guilty of using the baka form in the early 1980s until a Japanese acquaintance enlightened me, saying Japanese companies had been halting use of it in favor of poka yoke. Since that time I have trumped for the neutral term “fail-safe.” That crusade has flopped, though, since nearly every company and consultant refers to it as mistake proofing, which still embarrasses the employee and tends to inspire defensive, cover-up reactions.

Schonberger & Associates
Bellevue, WA

Author’s Response: Thank you for pointing out this issue. During our research for the article, we noted poka yoke had replace baka yoke in the literature. Unfortunately, we did not discover baka yoke delivered such a negative connotation and was the reason for the replacement.

Future editions of the glossary will be updated to include such a discussion.

ABS Consulting
Knoxville, TN

Taking a Time Out for Benefits

Like many busy professionals I barely have time to skim through Quality Progress and other similar publications, let alone take time to read any article all the way through. I have learned that putting them aside with the intent of getting to them when there is time just works against the first ‘S’ (sort) of maintaining a lean process in my consulting business.

However, when skimming the table of contents of the July 2005, two topics caught my eye. Subsequently, I read all of one article and more than half of the second one—I was glad I did.

The article “Take Action on Customer Satisfaction” (Gwen Fon-tennot, Lucy Henke and Kerry Carson, p. 40) was right on. Many of my clients insist on creating absurd customer satisfaction surveys and—when responses come in—act in insane ways to attack problems without any real basis for prioritizing.

This article presents the case and methods for putting intelligence into really understanding what the survey responses are saying and establishing action plans. Although the length of the article was a bit more than my time allowed, it was well worth my time. I have already used it to continually improve the effectiveness of the quality systems of my clients.

Also, Martin Stankard’s “The Dark Side of Process Measurement” (p. 53) should be required reading for all management, especially those whose purpose is to bayonet the wounded. Understanding a bit about the psyche of personnel, who may seem to be indicted by process measurements that show all is not as well as it should be, is a critical part of making the plan-do-check-act model work. This article, which I did make it all the way through, came just in time for me to use it to reinforce an effort with one client who was placing the blame instead of fixing the problem.

Having both these articles in the same issue was good planning on the part of the editorial staff. Thanks for publishing this meaningful information simultaneously. The articles certainly relate to each other.

Arrow Associates
Newburgh, NY

Courage Behind The Dark Side

I admire Martin Stankard’s courage to write “The Dark Side of Process Management” because it is something we’ve all come into contact with occasionally but don’t want to talk about or—much less—write about.

Corporate management must think very carefully about the incentives and pressures placed on subordinates that could lead to such behavior. One only needs to read the news to see some of the more extreme examples of what such pressures can cause.

One possible solution could be to set up a committee consisting of members from finance, human re-sources and operations and one or more independent consultants to review methods of performance measurement and incentives before they are put in place. It would also be important to include a representative from the union if one exists.

Here again, prevention costs less than a cure.

ASQ Fellow, Retired
Santa Clara, CA

Article Reminds Reader Of Once Popular Poem

Reading Brion Hurley’s entertaining and informative article in the July 2005 issue, “Our Place- Kicker Is Out of Control” (p. 59) led me to wonder if Hurley is perhaps too young to remember a poem that kicked—pardon the pun—around the statistics community many years ago titled, “Hiawatha Designs an Experiment” (Maurice Kendall, The American Statistician, 1959).

To read the full poem, go to: www.stat.sc.edu/~ogden/hiawatha.html.

Cisco Systems
San Jose, CA

Real-Life Statistics Prove Valuable

Brion Hurley’s article is an outstanding application of statistical process control to a process that typically relies on only attributes data.

Thank you for the real-life example of how valuable statistics can be in all aspects of life.

Sandia National Labs
Albuquerque, NM

What Exactly Does ISO 9001 Address?

Andy Hofmann’s article, “Two Controls, One Result” (July 2005, p. 68) highlights the benefits of integrating systems, whether they are quality or financial systems. Hofmann states that, put more directly, Sarbanes-Oxley tells management what it needs to do, and ISO 9001 provides direction on how to do it efficiently. Actually, ISO 9001 only addresses effectiveness. ISO 9004 begins to include efficiency measures and controls.

Hofmann also says ISO 9001 requires management to map main processes in converting inputs into outputs and these maps must also identify organizational ownership for the process steps so clear accountability can be demonstrated. ISO 9001 does not require process maps. ISO 9001 requires the organization to identify the sequence and interaction of processes and the definition of responsibilities and authorities. There is no defined method to do these things.

Process maps can be an effective tool for identifying sequence, interaction and responsibilities for any system. Process maps can be helpful in understanding inputs, outputs, needed resources and measurements for control.

I agree managers and leaders should adopt an integrated approach. By combining an organization’s programs into a single business system, the company can reap benefits in efficiency and clarity.

Linear Technology
Milpitas, CA

General Calibration For a General Audience

Graeme Payne has written two excellent “Measure for Measure” columns in Quality Progress—”Calibration: What Is It?” (May 2005, p. 72) and “Calibration: Who Does It?” (July 2005, p. 80).

Payne’s articles were especially appropriate for QP’s broad general audience.

U.S. Army TMDE
Fayetteville, PA

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