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Views for a Change
The Quality Tool I Never Use
The Quality Tool I Never
Total Productivity Coordinator
Toshiba America Consumer Products
Don Walker has held a myriad of jobs
from landscaping to working with adolescents in a
psychiatric hospital. He currently is an internal
consultant with teamwork and efficiency at Toshiba. He
has taken teams to the Toshiba International Quality
Circle in Tokyo on three occasions.He also has trained
Toshiba teams around the world. Walker is president of
the Middle Tennessee chapter of AQP.
What is the tool that didn't work
Most of the tools I use I would have a hard time doing
without. Coming from a Japanese company, we take a very
disciplined approach for problem-solving teams. We are
taught to use the seven tools for quality control and the
seven new tools for quality control. When I first got a
job as a facilitator and began reading what was needed
for a successful team meeting almost all of them
mentioned the role of timekeeper. Wanting not to break
from an almost universal list of roles for teams, I began
by trying to use a timekeeper also.
Why didn't it work or why is it useless?
My first teams met with limited success using a
timekeeper. It almost seemed like timekeepers would
either spend the entire meeting looking at their watch or
were so involved with the discussion that they forgot all
about the time. I have used timekeepers in all sorts of
meetings with very little success.
How would you fix the tool?
I found two things will usually remedy this problem and
both involve writing a good agenda.
1) Have a strong purpose statement and communicate that
to the team at the start of the meeting. If the team
knows what they need to accomplish in the meeting,
usually they will.
2) Go ahead, write times on the agenda next to the
activity, and make sure everyone can see it. In every
team, someone will pick up if the team is behind schedule
and mention it. I work with leaders to instill in them
this sense of timeliness.
What words of counsel/warning would
you give to someone else before they used the
I am sure there are many who would state that you
couldn't have a successful team without a timekeeper. If
you are not going to use one, you need to compensate for
its absence. If you use a timekeeper, you need to make
sure that the role is valued by the team. To have one
just to fit some preconceived model is not an effective
use of your team members.Generally people , in particular
in this day and age have a well-developed sense of time
since it is at a premium.