ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - January 2000

Issue Highlight - Y2K, Oh
-- "At 12:01 a.m. on January 1, 2000 we both breathed a sigh of relief and simultaneously attended a coronation...The coronation may have been more significant than the relief."

In This Issue...
Elementary TQM
Workplace Humor
Games at Work
Merger Mania
Boosting Capacity

Peter Block Column
Views for a Change
The Quality Tool
---- I Never Use

Diary of a Shutdown



Sites Unseen
Reader's Favorite Wesbites

--Perry Payne
--Honda of America Mfg. Inc
--Marysville, Ohio

--Perry Payne serves on the board of directors for AQP. He is also a speaker and trainer. Payne currently works as a staff administrator for Honday of America, Mfg. in Marysville, Ohio.

What is the tool that did not work for you?
--The tool is the Cause and Effect Diagram-a visual method of detailing and arriving at possible causes of a problem, commonly referred to as the Fishbone Diagram. The tool is to help a team identify and focus on all the potential causes in related categories without assumptions, biases or preconceived ideas. Upon entering a problem-solving situation a team can use their knowledge and experience (or collected data) to brainstorm possible causes and display them in the fishbone format. By displaying the information the team can feed off each other's ideas, stay on track and watch the diagram grow and develop.

Why didn't the tool work or why is it useless?
--Without a knowledgeable facilitator to lead the process, many teams fall short of achieving the maximum value of a Fishbone. Too much time and energy is spent on which category a possible cause should be placed in, what a category name should be or even how many categories should be used. Possible causes tend to develop from personal biases. Preconceived countermeasures lead the questioning instead of allowing the questioning to lead to the possible causes. The tool also hinders the brainstorming process by categorizing the possible causes (at least in the early stages). When brainstorming, we like to throw the ideas out as they pop up and not hold them back until we get to a certain category.

How would you fix the tool?
--The tool itself is not necessarily in need of fixing. I would first ask if I need to do a Cause and Effect Diagram. We often get caught up using a tool and we forget about our own knowledge and experience. If you investigate the possible cause and it's not a part of the true cause, you can always go back and do the diagram later. Brainstorming and capturing all possible causes without category boundaries will enhance the results. You can use the categories (e.g. man, machine, material, method) as a check function to assure you have captured as many possible causes before your questioning. Learning other root cause identification tools will allow you to grasp concepts and better understand the true meaning behind identifying and breaking down possible causes.

What words of counsel or warning would you give to someone else before they used the tool?
--If you are using the tool as part of your teams' activity, identify a talented facilitator who can lead your team through the process (no matter how comfortable you feel with the tool). If you are working individually, understand the rationale behind the tool and its steps then get feedback from others close to the problem for additional input.


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