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3.4 per Million: Conducting FMEAs for Results

by Kubiak, T.M.

Today’s world is fraught with risk. A failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) is a prevention-based, risk management tool. Its real value is reflected in its use as a long-term, living document....


At Your Fingertips

by Cartia, Robert A.

Troubleshooting is defined as a form of problem solving most often applied to the repair of failed products or processes. It is a logical, systematic search for the source of a problem so it can be solved and so the product or process can operate again....


Rethinking Treatment

by Muzenjak, Diane; Carboneau, Clark; Galagan, Robert

Changing and improving complex processes in healthcare settings are no easy tasks. They require a systems approach using a variety of quality improvement methods and tools....


Open Access

Learning to Fish

by Bullington, Kimball

The career excellence diagram, a modified version of the fishbone diagram, can be used to create desired results in career development by identifying causes that will ultimately lead to success....


Open Access

Beyond the Basics

by Duffy, Grace; Laman, Scott A.; Mehta, Pradip; Ramu, Govind; Scriabina, Natalia; Wagoner, Keith

A movie sequel often can be as, if not more, captivating than the original. Essentially, a sequel builds on the original, continuing a journey with familiar characters and settings, developing ideas and unveiling more insight....


3.4 per Million: Next in Line

by Conklin, Joseph D.

In quality, the sequel is what usually makes things better. Who knows how often savings have been left on the table because organizations failed to look ahead to the next project?...


Surf's Up

by Edmund, Mark

In essence, a disconnect within the Telefónica Group was throwing off and disconnecting its customers from the internet....


Open Access

Back to Basics: Behold the Bullet List

by Dearing, Jack, and Stavrakas, Jenny

When using a cause and effect diagram to find root causes, beware of clutter. Using a list instead of a diagram makes the cause and effect tool easier to use and allows more flexibility. But whether you use the traditional diagram or a bullet list, put...


Open Access

Online Figures Back to Basics

by Dearing, Jack, and Stavrakas, Jenny

Cause and effect diagram / ONLINE FIGURE 1 Example cause and effect diagram / ONLINE FIGURE 2 People Equipment Measurements Materials Methods Environment Effect People Equipment Measurements Materials Methods Environment Effect or problem Motivation Trai...


Open Access

Back to Basics: Bringing Beauty Back

by Bader, Bruce

Little Rapids is a disposable health and beauty aids manufacturer that sells to distributors and consumers. In early 2009, it received a frantic message from one of its largest customers, who said there were several problems with their orders and that...


Open Access

Guru Guide

by QP Staff

The quality world certainly has its game-changers, and as part of its annual quality basics issue, QP is highlighting six individuals who indelibly altered the course of quality....


Making the Connection

by ReVelle, Jack B.

Connectivity can refer to the predecessor-successor relationship existing between two or more tools for continuous improvement. The output from one tool, such as a Pareto analysis, can become the input to another, such as cause and effect analysis....


Standards Outlook: Prevent Defense

by West, John E. "Jack"

Effective preventive action requires focus and attention, both of which can be addressed via a method that starts with prioritization and ends with improvement actions....


Off the Ground

by Edmund, Mark

None of the 4,000 fasteners that were hand drilled into the fuselage of any C-17 cargo plane was misaligned or had gone missing. For years, Boeing has been building these top-notch planes. It just wanted to build them better....


Open Access

Building From the Basics

by Rooney, James J.; Kubiak, T.M; Westcott, Russ; Reid, R. Dan; Wagoner, Keith; Pylipow, Peter E.; Plsek, Paul

Quality control is about models, methods, measuring and managing. It’s about uncovering a problem and finding the solution. It’s about using the right techniques at the right time to make things better....


Open Access

A Dose of DMAIC

by Mukherjee, Shirshendu

Ruby hospital, a multispecialty for-profit facility in Calcutta, India, was the first in Eastern India to embrace ISO 9001 and is the only one in the country to have successfully deployed a Six Sigma improvement program....


A Gold Medal Solution

by Adrian, Nicole

By using quality tools, a team from Boeing came up with solutions that eliminated the unsafe conditions that occurred during installation of the details in aircrafts' tailcones....


Quality Glossary

by Nelsen, Dave

Five years after it published its first glossary of quality terms, ASQ has revised that glossary with updated definitions and new entries, many from the lean glossary published in 2005. This reference of terms, acronyms, and prominent figures in the...


Open Access

One Good Idea: The Probability of Reoccurrence: P(r)

by Owens, Dennis R.

Bob, the quality manager at Acme Co., was sent a supplier corrective action request(SCAR) from Acme's largest customer. Bob assembled a team of engineers to identify the problem and determine a root cause....


Open Access

One Good Idea: 60 Minutes To A Solution

by Redmond, Matt

We’ve all been in those meetings. You know the type: Everyone knows what the problem is. Lots of ideas are chewed on and spit out. The group shares anecdotal experiences about the problem, but nobody records anything....


One Good Idea: Bringing the Fishbone Diagram Into the Computer Age

by Levinson, William A.

The cause and effect, or fishbone, diagram is an established problem solving tool. It is particularly suitable for use by cross functional teams, helping a group organize a problem's potential root causes in an easily understandable visual format....


Open Access

Back to Basics: A Fish(bone) Tale

by Perry, Michael S.

You have been asked to perform a root cause analysis to determine where a process is breaking down. Not sure where to begin? Use a fishbone diagram to help you and your team identify and discuss all potential causes of an effect....


Faster Turnaround Time

by Pellicone, Angelo; Martocci, Maude

In 2004, North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) used Six Sigma to reduce bed assignment delay turnaround time that made it difficult to balance capacity needs. A capstone project revealed incorrect use of the hospital's bed tracking system. The goal was...


TRIZ: A Creative Breeze for Quality Professionals

by Dew, John

TRIZ, a systematic approach to creative thinking originating in Russia, can help quality professionals develop new approaches and solutions to quality problems. Its creator, Genrich Altshuller, wanted a systematic approach based on the rules of...


Quality in the First Person: Old Ideas Find a New Industry

by Hilgendorf, Alex

I work in the software industry. My world changes quickly, and it can be hard to keep up. As the software industry is still quite young, many of its employees are not yet as indoctrinated into the quality world as are people in other industries....


Quality in the First Person: Dead Man's Shoes

by Davis, Peter

The responsibility for quality assurance is sometimes bestowed upon reluctant recipients who don't really understand quality. However, basic quality assurance factors don't change between business sectors. The real issue is to get people to listen and...


Quality in the First Person: Quality Shots

by Fernandez, Heriberto

Quality tools that are vital to process management can be used in almost every field of activity, including sports. A player's performance in a basketball game is subject to variation that must be controlled and reduced. An example focusing on...


Scope Projects in 10 Steps

by Harvey, Jean

The manufacturing sector has long recognized that effective change must be managed in small increments without losing sight of the big picture. Professional services, however, present other factors that require a different approach to mitigating risks....


The Legacy of Ishikawa

by Watson, Greg

Kaoru Ishikawa was a prime mover of quality in Japan who believed in quality through leadership. His six quality concepts form the basis for a holistic approach that is the unique Japanese approach to quality improvement. Ishikawa’s focus on...


Improve Service And Administration

by Bothe, Davis R.

Variation in business activities is unacceptable and undermines quality. Statistical methods can be applied to all types of business processes to understand relationships between processes, then document and reduce variation. The several strategies...


Open Access

Lean and Six Sigma -- A One-Two Punch

by Smith, Bonnie

To keep profits growing in these days of flat revenues, manufacturers are paying more attention to the advice of Poor Richard (a.k.a. Benjamin Franklin): A penny saved is a penny earned....


Open Access

Quality Glossary


A handy reference is provided of quality terms, acronyms, and key people in the history of quality. Information is derived from a variety of sources and compiled by the editorial staff of the American Society for...


Organize Your Quality Tool Belt

by Okes, Duke

Quality professionals adopt and adapt techniques from other fields to satisfy the need to apply their skills to a wide variety of processes and situations. To someone new to the profession, this array of tools may seem overwhelming, but upon closer...


What Should Be Changed?

by Fedendall, Lawrence D.; Patterson, J. Wayne; Lenhartz, Christoph; Mitchell, Bryant C.

Tools from two change management systems are compared to show which give managers the best results when implementing changes. The theory of constraints (TOC) features a set of five tools to examine the entire system for continuous improvement. One of...


Measure for Six Sigma Success

by Pearson, Thomas A.

Measurements, despite their proven historical significance, are still viewed as the cost of doing business and as production bottlenecks. In the new "measure for Six Sigma" world, measurements become a direct production activity resulting in a true...


Quality Professionals Around the World Share Similar Concerns, Experiences

by Dedhia, Navin Shamji

The International Chapter of ASQ has grown from about 25 members in 1956 to more than 5,000 members in about 90 countries by 2000. Quality professionals worldwide want to hold on to a core set of principles, and similar challenges face the quality...


Getting the Most From Cause and Effect Diagrams

by Clark, Timothy J.

A cause and effect diagram can be enhanced, however, by following up with a responsibility matrix and an action planning matrix. A responsibility matrix identifies the degree of control process owners have over the cause of a particular problem and the ac...


Open Access

Too Many Types of Quality Problems

by Smith, Gerald F.

Categorizing problem types can help practitioners in the quality field to focus their attention on relevant past experiences and problem solving techniques. This approach requires the definition of appropriate problem categories and communicating them...


Research: The Key to Quality Policies and Procedures

by Page, Stephen B.

A structured research plan for analyzing a business process is the key to writing quality policies and procedures. Comprehensive and accurate policies and procedures are essential for meeting documentation requirements of standards like the ISO 9000...


Putting Quality in Knowledge Management

by Wilson, Larry Todd; Asay, Diane

Rapid access to expertise within an organization is a purpose of knowledge management. Quality professionals have critical leadership and educational roles in the harvesting of that knowledge and in the management of corporate memory. Knowledge is...


Developing a TQM Implementation Model

by Naveh, Eitan; Erez, Miriam; Zonnenshain, Avigdor

A 3-D model of quality improvement with individual, team, and organizational dimensions was implemented at a manufacturing firm. The model for this TQM (total quality management) program was built on assumptions that covered: continuous change in all...


Applying Continuous Improvement to Community Health

by Knapp, Marian L.

A collaborative model of community improvement sponsored by the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) has successfully handled projects on motor vehicle injury prevention. The model also is applicable to...


Use PDSA for Crying Out Loud

by Dooley, Kevin

The plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycle helped one couple decrease the amount of time their infant daughter cried during diaper changes. This quality improvement initiative took eight PDSA cycles. In cycle one, the parents collected and plotted run chart...


Open Access

Continuous Improvement on the Free-Throw Line

by Clark, Timothy; Clark, Andrew

The plan-do-study-act cycle contributed to continuous improvement of basketball free-throw shooting, as did problem solving and decision making. Problem identification occurred when the author observed his son's free-throw success rate to be only 45%...


How to Teach Others to Apply Statistical Thinking

by Britz, Galen; Emerling, Don; Hare, Lynne; Hoerl, Roger; Shade, Janice

An interactive session on statistical thinking involved realistic scenarios worked on by teams of conference attendees and a panel of experts. Unlike statistical methods, statistical thinking is a learning and action philosophy. It is based on...


Teaching Taguchi's Approach to Parameter Design

by Sarin, Sanjiv

In a classroom setting, a paper airplane experiment demonstrates the strength of the Taguchi approach. Before running the experiment, the instructor should provide background information on the method: its preference for being on target with the least...


Integrate Quality Cost Concepts Into Teams' Problem-Solving Efforts

by Robison, Jim

Cost of quality (COQ) initiatives can be incorporated into any organization. A ten-step method integrates the four COQ elements of appraisal costs, prevention costs, external failure costs, and internal failure costs into problem solving programs....


Charting New Territory

by Welsh, Frank

Health care applications of flowcharts, cause-and-effect (fishbone) diagrams, and control charts were developed by a team of nurses and a surgeon in an outpatient surgery facility. Flowcharts identified the movement of patients through the facility,...


Cause-And-Effect Diagrams Alone Don't Tell the Whole Story

by Turner, Ronald E.

Feedback loops increase the power of cause-and-effect diagrams. The usual cause-and-effect diagram is a linear display of an effect and its possible causes. The enhanced version incorporates balancing and reinforcing feedback loops. Balancing loops...


Creativity and Improvement: A Vital Link

by Provost, Lloyd P.; Sproul, R. M.

Tools for creative thinking enhance quality improvement activities, which typically employ only critical thinking tools. Improvement requires change, and creativity reveals a variety of options, some not obvious, for implementing change. Creativity in...


Learning from Mistakes

by Shaw, Diana V.; Day, Denni O.; Slavinskas, Elizabeth

Lack of participation curtailed a problem-solving project, but lessons were learned. A multidisciplinary TQM (total quality management) team at Strong Memorial Hospital progressed through the identification and analyzing steps before disbanding. They...



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