Blame game

The lack of management support is repeatedly cited as a cause of quality’s ineffectiveness. Let me suggest that quality professionals need to apply their own methods to themselves and examine whether lack of management support is instead the result of quality’s ineffectiveness.

Quality falls into a very self-delusional trap that afflicts others—everyone thinks they did a good job because they’re the ones who did it. Therefore, an independent view is necessary to find overlooked issues within your work.

If quality is not supported, rather than simply blaming managers for not caring, we need to consider the other possibilities: Either quality is not producing the value it presumes, or it is producing the value, but we’re not adequately communicating that value to management.

Robin F. Goldsmith
Go Pro Management Inc.
Needham, MA

Figuring it out

The November 2009 issue of QP contained an article by Marc Young called "Attitude Shift." Figure 2 of this article showed a trend chart of production and defect data. This chart looks a lot like a process control chart for nonconformance (a c-chart). But this is not possible because the lines that appear to be control limits vary. What’s more, the mean varies.

If this is not a process control chart, what is it? The article doesn’t include a discussion of how the organization created this chart. According to the article, it is an essential tool for the manager, together with the bar chart in Figure 3, which someone surely titled erroneously as a Pareto chart. A true Pareto chart (I prefer to call it a Juran chart after its inventor) organizes the bars by descending frequency.

What did the author intend to convey with these charts? If Figure 2 is a new form of chart, we should learn how the organization created it so we can understand its use. If it is an existing chart, something is terribly wrong.

William J. Latzko
Latzko Associates
North Bergen, NJ

Author’s response

The point of this article was to identify how automatic quality tools (of any kind) were introduced to a whole new body of workers in an industry—automotive retail—that does not normally use quality tools.

The chart in Figure 2 is described as a trend chart that helps the manager understand how the technician’s defect rates change over time. This is also called a run chart and is used often in manufacturing to display performance over time. I originally included the technician’s production rate per week, along with the defect rate and mean and control limits for both, but I found the abundance of information clouded the effort to put automatic quality tools in place. I hoped to get back to defining and using these additional analytical tools after the use of the tool was more firmly established.

The Pareto chart in Figure 3 is really just a defect frequency chart that is used to highlight the most important problems for any technician or the entire shop. It is simply a matter of the display attributes that turn this frequency chart into a true Pareto chart. The effort to do that was not deemed as important to the overall effort of getting managers to address the top items on their technician’s charts.

The concept of using run charts and Pareto (or Juran) charts to monitor performance rates or highlight defect areas for non-manufacturing endeavors is not out of the ordinary and could be extended to other areas of the company. For example, sales could use these same charts to monitor and analyze process parameters, such as number of contacts made, proposals written or test drives made.

I believe there are areas in any manager’s work that could be monitored with run charts and Pareto charts, and I hope others can see the benefit of this "attitude shift," despite the non-clinical appearance of the charts.

Marc Young

Lead the way

I read Seiche Sanders’ editorial in the November issue of QP  and pondered the query about future leadership. My first response was that there are many of us who have been under the radar, doing our part to help organizations. We quietly go about improving processes, launching new products and helping organizational leaders understand what W. Edwards Deming, Joseph Juran and A.V. Feigenbaum taught the Japanese.

My next reaction was to reflect on some experiences, and I recalled the day I presented a copy of Deming’s original 1950 paper to Deming himself for his signature. He gave the paper to Bill Hunter at the University of Wisconsin, and it ended up in the archives of the Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement. George Box (another guru) was leading that organization when I volunteered there, and he asked me if I would like a copy of Deming’s paper.

When I presented the paper to Deming, he looked at it and in his gruff voice asked me where I got it. I told him, and then he said, "God in heaven, man, couldn’t you get a better copy?" His original paper, you see, had numerous editorial notes and scribblings. We smiled, and then he asked me to type a clean copy and send him the result, which I did. That was my sole experience with Deming. It was a good one.

The real story is there are many of us who have continued to carry Deming’s banner and contribute to society in many different ways. My current dissertation research, for example, is about systemic motivation. This research came from taking Deming’s principles and applying them at a manufacturer in Madison, WI. The result was that the workers produced an annualized rate of nearly $1 million in additional throughput just because fear had been driven out, allowing for pride in workmanship. The theory of systemic motivation and a case study of that experience are going to be published in the first quarter next year in the International Journal for Technology Diffusion.

Do I desire to be a guru? Of course not. People do not choose to be gurus. Do I want to help? Certainly.

Joe Haefner
Quality manager
OEM Fabrications Inc.
Woodville, WI

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