ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

April 1999

Articles

A Sunny Forecast
Grassroots Teams Help Sun Micorsystems Raise Customer Satisfaction

Coming Full Circle
Measuring and Improving Organizational Effectiveness

Oil Change
Externalization, Change Management Key to Realignment

Project Management:
Just Do It!

A Step by Step Overview ofa 1950's Organizational Tool Experiencing a 1990's Rebirth



Columns

Hope Is Where You Find It
by Peter Block

Sorry We're Closed: Diary of a Shutdown


Features

Brief Cases
Business News Briefs

Views for a Change

Sites Unseen
Reader's Favorite Websites

The Quality Tool I Never Use

Pageturners
Book Review

Reader Poll

Letters to the Editor

Calendar of Events

 

The Quality Tool
I Never Use

Pete Fornal
President
Human Resource Consultants
East Greenwich, R.I.

Pete Fornal is president of Human Resource Consultants, which he founded in 1990. His clients include Motorola, CVS Stores, State of Rhode Island and Aetna Insurance. Fornal is a past president of the AQP Rhode Island chapter, vice chair of the National Employee and Labor Relations committee of SHRM and chair of the Rhode Island Worksite Wellness and Safety Council. He is a frequent workshop leader and speaker for AQP, SHRM, ASQ and various educational institutions.

What is the tool that didn’t work for you?
Process mapping or flow diagramming is an important tool in most continuous-improvement initiatives. It is the interactive process in which team members diagnose a work process to determine gaps, inefficiencies and potential remedies.
Process mapping is a wonderful tool that not only enables the participants to “see” the true picture of a work process, but also offers excellent by-products in bonding and teaming.

Why didn’t it work?
In my experiences, where process mapping didn’t reach its full potential there were a few problems. Having the right number of participants, ideally 10-15, is key to the success of process mapping.
Asking team members, who are not experts in their phase of the work process, to participate caused delays in finding out what was going on and discovering the best solution to the problem at hand. We didn’t have sufficient training and by jumping in we weren’t prepared for the task. Also, the work system/process we were mapping was too large and it overwhelmed the participants.

What words of counsel would you give to someone else before they used the tool?
As Tim Allen would say, “If you don’t use them properly, tools can bite you.” This same principle can be applied to the variety of quality tools available to us. Whether it is process mapping, case studies, team exercises, fishbone diagrams or an affinity diagram, they can be highly useful or ineffective. My experience has taught me to follow these guidelines when applying quality team tools.
1. Know your toolbox and select the right tool to do the job.
2. Train your users to use the tool properly.
3. Be very clear in oral and written communications regarding what you want the users to do with the tool.
4. Set clear metrics for measuring your success.
5. Be sure you clearly define time limits that are reasonable and practical for the users.


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