Seen and Heard

Unique gemba approach

Michael Bremer’s article "Walk the Line" (March 2015, pp. 18-22) thoroughly treats the "how" of gemba walks. Quite a different approach is to engage frontline people to be the ones doing the specialized process assessments—not by walking around, but in the mode of intensive observation.

In this approach, each cell team periodically recommends one of its members with a clipboard do a full day of studying the process, asking questions, discussing changes, and interfacing with feeder and user processes and staff experts (quality, engineering, purchasing and tooling) in developing improvements. The rationale? They already know the process, jobs, methods and people—and, given the time, they may be more likely to uncover good ideas than managers on a walk. Such responsibilities should be good for egos, morale and motivation.

As for managers walking around, the main purposes could be seen as connectivity and process familiarization, leading to better decision-making in their own managerial sphere and recognition of impressive improvements generated by frontliners. In other words, managers and executives get out of offices and into action zones to see for themselves what goes on, absorb all the visual management evidence of process improvement on display and arm themselves properly for leading celebrations.

Richard J. Schonberger
Bellevue, WA

FMEA enlightenment

In response to "No Finish Line" (April 2015, pp. 34-38): I found this article enlightening. I did work for a company that used a dynamic failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA), corrective and preventive actions, and nonconformance report were sources that fed into revisions of the FMEA. They could indicate mitigation, verification and validation activities.

Elisa Ortiz
Melbourne, FL

Why certify?

In response to "Expert Answers: Reasons to certify" (March 2015, pp. 8-9): My organization is laying the groundwork to revise its current quality management system by doing a gap analysis based on the ISO 9001 changes. From drafts I have read of the 2015 version of the standard, I do see an improvement.

I absolutely agree that more active involvement from senior management is needed. This involves reviewing the system beyond a yearly management review. I believe this review should be done quarterly, made an integral part of management’s quarterly business reviews and treated with the same level of importance.

I believe many senior management teams still consider ISO 9001 a marketing tool. They must embrace it and implement a robust system that will drive better customer satisfaction, reduce waste and improve cross-functional processes. This will, by default, improve the bottom line and likely market share.

Tim Burneka
Cicero, NY

Tune In

Quality professionals have a reputation for stellar left-brained thinking. In the latest episode of ASQ TV, learn more about right-brained thinking and unleashing creativity for even the most methodical minds. Also get acquainted with the quality tool TRIZ, and learn how to boost your creativity through mobile apps. The next episode, which covers service quality, is available May 5.

Online Extras

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Quick Poll Results

Each month at www.qualityprogress.com, visitors can take an informal survey. Here are the numbers from last month‘s Quick Poll:

Which professional sport could benefit most from a dose of quality?


Football 25/8%

Baseball 17.7%

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Visit www.qualityprogress.com for the latest question:

May is the month of ASQ’s World Conference on Quality Improvement in Nashville. Which famous Milwaukeean would you like to see as next year’s keynote speaker when the conference is in Milwaukee?

  • Bud Selig.
  • Henry Winkler ("The Fonz" in Milwaukee-based TV show "Happy Days").
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Quality News Today

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Amazon.com is trialing an automatic product-replenishment program with Whirlpool, Brother and other vendors. It can sense when supplies are low, or allow customers to reorder frequently used items via Wi-Fi with the push of a button.

Can Anything Kill the Deadly Bacteria on Endoscopes?
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