The 2020 Quality 4.0 Virtual Summit

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WHAT AN INCREDIBLE EVENT!  

The Quality 4.0 Summit was a huge success! This past week, more than 200 quality professionals from around the globe gathered together online to learn how to draft a digital blueprint. Each of the three days was packed with amazing presentations and insights, followed by dynamic discussion.  With the variety of different events on the schedule, you had many options to chose from.  There was so much to see and do to engage with experts and peers.  There was even Happy Hour Trivia two nights in a row with the winners earning a free virtual registration to the 2021 WCQI event!  If you weren’t there, you missed an incredible Summit.   

Quality 4.0 aligns quality practices with the digital environment but we know implementing Quality 4.0 in organizations can be hard. This three-day digital event featured the most popular elements of the annual Quality 4.0 Summit–like innovative keynote speakers and future-focused sessions–while also adding new interactive components.  

For all of those who joined us for the 2020 Quality 4.0 Summit, thank you for being part of this first-of-its-kind virtual event! Keep reading to learn about some of the key take-aways from this week and put a reminder in your calendar now to plan for the Quality 4.0 Summit in 2021! 

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Sheryl Connelly presented “Confessions of a Corporate Futurist: Coming Trends that Will Revolutionize Your Business”. The future plays out in unexpected ways, despite the best efforts to prepare for the unknown. Most often, the success and failure of an organization comes down to two things: its ability to manage uncertainty and effectively identify how trends could have significant impacts to one’s business. Connelly revealed her secrets for how to think like a futurist, providing expertise and strategies necessary for effectively anticipating change. From the 10 megatrends that could change the world as we know it before the year 2050, to perspective that will forever change one’s approach to long-term planning and strategy, she delivered the insights necessary for organizations across industry sectors to prosper, innovate, and remain relevant in our world. 

Michael Gale led an interactive keynote presentation, “Excellence in a Digital Age: Where Quality Evolves in a World of Uncertain Opportunity”. Gale walked participants through the underlying shifts in thinking and architectures for the 28% of companies thriving with their digital transformations, and how they can apply that thinking to influence their own organizations. Gale showcased data from the research partnership between ASQE and Forbes Insights for the Insights on Excellence Benchmarking Tool and discussed how executives and quality professionals look at information. The session tapped into research for Gale’s best-selling book, The Digital Helix. Gale reintroduced and emphasized the five aspects of excellence, and how they can be used to implement Quality 4.0.  

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Mike Lipkin kicked off the third day of the Summit with his inspiring (and entertaining) keynote “Use Your Superpowers to Lead the Recovery”. Drawing on the post-pandemic reality organizations will have to adjust to, Lipkin provided examples of how the professional landscape is changing, and how listeners can breakthrough this new environment. Lipkin guided listeners through ten key forces that are shaping the immediate future and demonstrated the power of certainty, charisma, and conditioning.  

In the final keynote presentation, Radha Agrawal presented “Community Building 101”. She outlined the roles of attendee’s “friends”, “followers” and “users” and how all those relationships can still leave people feeling isolated. Radha Agrawal called this “community confusion.” She discussed how leaders need to cultivate their personal communities beyond business. When leaders find support, they create connections–both personal and within their teams—which studies show are key to happiness, fulfillment, and success. Radha shared the outcome of 18 months dedicated to synthesizing her key methods for community building called the CRAWL (core values, rituals, aesthetics, why, language) Method.  

This year’s event featured three focus areas that helped attendees customize their experience according to which part of Quality 4.0 was most interesting to them. Each focus area had a curated selection of workshops, and on-demand sessions. 

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For those just beginning their journey with Quality 4.0, or who want to brush up on their foundational knowledge, this focus area provided the building blocks of Quality 4.0, from terms and definitions to implementation strategies.  

In the session “Unleashing Quality to Support Industry 4.0” presenter Arron Angle outlined the issue that many quality professionals know to be true-only 15% of organizations believe that quality is a priority for executive management, but prioritizing quality can have large positive impacts to a company’s bottom line. Angle explained the value of Behavior Based Quality, or BBQ, to help executive leadership buy-in and promote a culture of quality across an organization. Angle laid out the ways that having a “breathing” BBQ can help aid participants in implementing their Quality 4.0 program.  

Attendees looking to contextualize their role within digital transformation found André Carvalho’s presentation especially useful. In “Why Digital is Not Enough: Finding Value with Quality 4.0”, Carvalho explained the limitations of technology-driven approaches to Industry 4.0. He gave examples of the ways that quality practitioner’s perspectives are valuable, even in organizational focus is heavily on technical innovation. With the variety of methodologies used in “traditional” quality, Carvalho emphasized the importance of creating an integrated approach to Quality 4.0, in order to identify the real value in the technologies, processes, and strategies adopted.  

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The ability to integrate quality into new technologies is critical for the success of Quality 4.0. With sessions highlighting data and automation, this focus area helped attendees see their role in digital transformation.  

Constantin Stan and Alexandra Niculae provided a great scope of information on the robotic process automation (RPA) in their presentation “How the 6 Sigma Belts Improve Robotic Process Automation”. They discussed how an improved process is more suitable for automation, and how a preliminary Lean Six Sigma project will bring even more results than the automation itself. The pair provided insights on how to prioritize the right processes for the robotic process automation, the right tools and deliverables for the process transformation, frequent errors – the efforts and mitigation plans, the Process Design Document which included content and traps to avoid for LSS professionals, as well as discussing roles and responsibilities of an LSS professional in every RPA project. 

In the presentation “Preparing for AI with Lessons from Your Gage R&R Past” Christopher Colaw explained how AI maturity depends on detection and classification capabilities, as well as an adequate source of training data, in addition to minimized hardware variation (visual cameras and lighting hardware). He grouped these focus areas can be grouped into two main actions for the organization; 1) qualification of the AI Algorithm, and 2) Attribute Gage R&R for the hardware which is used to capture the image and enable execution of the AI Algorithm. Colaw explained how only after these two actions are successfully satisfied can the Quality 4.0 organization display confidence in their efforts to ensure this new form of measurement variation is minimized. 

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This focus area aimed to help quality professionals understand how their organizations can build a cultural foundation of innovation through training, management, and measurement tools. 

Scott Burgmeyer and Tammy Rogers presented “Culture Through Self-Awareness & People Data”. During this workshop, participants delved into the science behind what drives people. By understanding the core drives, participants can use this people data to be an effective and productive team member and leader. Burgmeyer and Rogers used examples to showcase how understanding ourselves, our team members, and using people data builds high performance and positive employee engagement.  

Attendees of every generation found a lot of value in the session “Engaging the New Generations in Quality 4.0” lead by Luciana Paulise. Paulise provided relatable examples of the changing and evolving workplace, and how each generation behaves. It’s critical for leaders to learn how to attract, train, and engage the younger generations of quality professionals, and Paulise laid out ways to understand Millennials and Gen Z in order to build a new employee experience in Industry 4.0.  

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The Lighthouse Series helped attendees connect with the newest trends and emerging technologies in quality program implementation while learning from industry frontrunners. 

During “Easing into Big Data: From Logistic Regression to CART” speaker Kristine Nissen Bradley built upon quality professional’s foundation of data knowledge to explore the current machine learning approaches that are becoming common in the field. Nissen Bradley explains the Classification and Regression Trees learning technique and walks participants through how to interpret the analysis.  

In a very relevant on-demand session, Therese Costich presented “COVID-19-Forcing Digital Transformation”. Costich explained how the term disruption often connotes negativity when it should be considered an opportunity for positive change. In this session, participants discussed the opportunities that arise as a result of embracing disruption, how an organization can thrive by taking advantage of the opportunities, and how organizations in any industry can redefine how they do business by streamlining their digital transformation journey with an operational excellence platform. 

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On Wednesday, attendees got an exclusive preview of the new ASQExcellence offering, the Insights on Excellence Benchmarking Tool. ASQE chair Dani Picciotti and CEO Jim Templin led the presentation. The presentation highlighted how the Insights on Excellence (IoE) tool has been developed through the partnership with Forbes Insights, and described its functionality as an intuitive tool for a variety of employees within organizations. This tool will be a leading benefit of the new ASQE Organizational Membership levels, which are coming in early 2021.  

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Even though event participants couldn’t swap business cards in the hallway or chat over meals, the Summit created plenty of opportunities for the quality community to connect and learn from one another.  

Brain Dates, a new feature in the 2020 Summit, were small interactive sessions, that fostered group discussions around identifying solutions to common challenges. From learning how to publish a book, use storytelling to lead teams, to recovering customer relationships participants were able to get their questions answered and network with like-minded colleagues.  

Attendees also had the opportunity to learn more about the event sponsors, and ASQ and ASQE services through the Quality 4.0 Solutions Center. By clicking through this interactive portal, participants could explore new industry product and service offerings, download exclusive resources, and even pop into a video chat room to have real conversations with Solution Center representatives.  

At the end of the day on Monday and Tuesday, attendees were unable to unwind with Virtual Happy Hours featuring hosted trivia!  Both nights reflected an equal combination of competition and fun as attendees played to win a virtual registration to WCQI 2021.  It was a great way to end each full day of learning.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for a great Quality 4.0 Virtual Summit, we look forward to continuing to help you succeed with digital transformation, and we will see 2021!  

Be sure to keep an eye out for our upcoming events, including Medical Mondays in November. This new series will offer insights into how quality professionals in the healthcare community can not only manage the current conditions facing them but build meaningful quality processes and systems that will last.

This event would not have been a success without our sponsors and exhibitors!

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One Thing We Can All Learn from the Auto Industry

By Chris Moustakas, DevonWay Inc.

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We all have things that make our jobs challenging, at least some of the time. Personally, I feel like the industry I chose, enterprise software, is pretty hard, but it doesn’t hold a candle to how brutally hard the automotive industry is.

Consider:

They deal with a global, complex supply chain in which any interruption, whether political, natural, or self-inflicted, can have rippling effects with disastrous results. The number of pieces that go into a modern vehicle, and the degree to which their production has to be planned and coordinated, is nothing short of outstanding.

They are heavily regulated because when they mess up, people can die. All the airbags in the world won’t help a company that introduces a software flaw that, say, punches the accelerator when you turn on the wipers (make no mistake, that gas pedal is not connected to anything more than a digital sensor that can get its signals crossed just like anything else).

The product they build is an engineering marvel and therefore at least as complicated as it is impressive. But there’s no technological moat commanding fat margins – due to intense competition from all sides, they pour billions into capital projects and R&D, not to widen their lead, but to survive.

And they’re expected to innovate every year, like clockwork. If Fall comes around and they’re not introducing a new model, something is wrong. That pace of incremental evolution would be brutal enough, but on top of it they’re also dealing with potentially existential threats that could turn their whole business inside out – self-driving cars, electric vehicles, share vs. buy business models… Japan’s now even trying to introduce IRL flying cars!

(As an aside, if the pace of innovation for cars seems natural, compare a car now vs. one in the 90s to an airplane now vs. one in the 90s. Not only does the plane look and feel the same – it probably is the same plane.)

When we look at all these challenges, what is one clear and pervasive lesson we can draw from the auto industry? That in spite of all these obstacles, or probably because of them, they’re still able to maintain an insane focus on quality.

My wife and I bought a new car about a year and a half ago, our first in almost twenty years. Six months into our ownership we realized we were probably overdue for an oil change. We called the dealer to ask if we should bring it in and they practically laughed at us – it turns out that new cars’ engines are such tightly closed-loop systems that they only need their oil changed at most once a year – and you don’t have to remember because the car will let you know on its own.

Pretty much any model you buy that was designed after 2000 will be such a high-quality piece of manufacturing that it’ll last for as long as it takes you to get bored of it.

How do they do it? Although most automotive OEM’s have a lot of built-in inefficiencies, one area in which they excel is through well communicated, industry-wide standards. IATF 16949 (the auto industry’s version of ISO 9001) went into effect this month, September 2018, and it’s a perfect embodiment of that quality-centric spirit.

There’s no magic sauce in the standard – exhibit good leadership, communicate, find and resolve defects, and continually improve. It’s not magic, but it’s exact, explicit, and expected.

Write down what’s important to you and execute on it. Something we could all stand to do more of.

 

Chris Moustakas

President & CEO, DevonWay, Inc.

Quality and the Experience Economy

Over the past two decades consumers have been gravitating towards purchases that are of both high quality and provide an experience. Quality of a product or service alone is no longer a differentiator, quality of experience is. Consumers are buying what will not only satisfy a need, but will illicit an emotion or establish a connection.

How will this new economic structure affect the quality industry?

Babette Ten Haken

The Experience Economy, by Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore (1999, 2011), created the blueprint for how B2C (business-to-consumer) industries created customer experiences to build customer engagement, loyalty and marketshare.

Today, the Age of Mass Production is gone. Customers expect a company’s products and services to do more than remain “as good as the day I bought them.” Instead, customers make purchase decisions, expecting products and services to continuously become better and better over the duration of their life cycles. As a result, customers expect their own emotional experiences, interacting with their purchases, to become better and better.

The Experience Economy principles offer competitive advantages to the B2B (business-to-business) space, especially industry and manufacturing. However, this scenario sets up legacy cultural and methodological plate tectonics. Operations and Quality processes and mindset crash into Business processes and mindset. After all, Operations and Quality traditionally focus on issues and risk. Business traditionally focuses on possibilities and opportunities.

Can the two cultures not only co-exist within The Experience Economy industrial IoT ecosystem? Can they collaborate, cross-functionally, to create extraordinary and enduring customer outcomes and experiences?

Yes! Quality tools like design thinking and qualitative Voice of the Customer (VoC) methodologies have a tremendous impact on delivering product- and service-based designs which deliver remarkable customer experiences and catalyze customer retention. These insights give breadth and depth to periodic, quantitative customer experience survey results, conducted on the business side of the table.

However, to successfully deploy these tools and methodologies, Quality professionals must walk Quality talk across the organization, from the plant floor to the C-Suite. How does the Voice of Operations-based end-users relate to the Voice of Business-based decision makers? That is the Quality Challenge. Because once the dots are connected, organizations create a powerful, customized, experience-based blueprint for growth, expansion and sustainability.

John Hunter

It is very difficult to create great customer experiences if the management system doesn’t provide those interacting with customers the authority, tools, training and support to make decisions and continually improve the systems in place to deliver great customer experiences.

The management system must not only give people the authority to react to specific customer desires individually but must integrate continual improvement of the processes and systems to continually enhance the ability of the organization to delight – even in the face of ever greater customer expectations.

There is not a magic bullet solution to creating the capabilities to delight customers with the overall customer experience. It requires creating a management system that encourages that focus and supports acting based on those principles every day.

Luciana Paulise

Instead of spending a big budget on advertising, some companies decide to bet on free marketing by investing in their customer’s experience instead. For companies Like Johnny Cupcakes, Zappos or Delivering Happiness, their driver for growth has been repeating customers and word of mouth to actually get free advertising . Most of the money they would have spent on paid advertising like regular companies do, they invested it into customer service and the customer experience instead, letting customers do the marketing for them through word of mouth and relationships. They will recommend your brand to their friends, talk about you on their social networks, generate repetitive sales and sometimes even give you ideas for potential new products. Basically, customers become what I call “lovers” of your brand.

So what is a great experience? it is not just regular customer service. It is to take care of every detail in every contact with your customer, face to face, online or even on the phone. Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappo’s says that “If you get a 10 minutes interaction right, the customer remembers the experience for a very long time and tell his or her friends about it. You need to make sure that we use that opportunity to create a lasting memory”. So, the key is to focus on building engagement and trust, seeing every interaction through an experience of a long-life relationship lens instead of an expense-minimization lens.

This shift from buzz marketing to experience marketing can only be possible through a cultural transformation within the company. All the old habits of just minimizing cost need to shift towards customer centered habits.

Edwards Deming, proposed a cultural transformation in his last work, the System of Profound knowledge. This method shifts organization from “Me” to “we”. a “We ” organization means that departments work together, and make decisions considering the interactions they have with each other. As Deming puts it, we need to mind not only about doing “good parts” but also about “the gaps” between the parts. That is, your report can be done correctly, but if it doesn’t fit the needs of your customer, it may not be as good for him. We need the customer or the preparer to raise the voice to make a change in the process.

“We” thinking is crucial in an experience-based marketing, as everybody needs to be involved in getting the right interaction to the customer, everybody needs to be open to see how the company can do better and be part of it.

The cultural change needs to be lead by the head of the organizations by example (top-down) and specific principles, and provide the appropriate training of those principles to the employees to offer bottom-up solutions.

Chris Moustakas

Remember the first time you used Google Maps? Compared to the experience of Mapquest, it looked and felt like magic, and what was state of the art just the day before became obsolete overnight.

A wealth of open resources, plus a step change in what “good” looks like, has reset people’s expectations. At its core, “Quality of Experience” is a holistic definition. It used to be that a company could be judged by specific criteria – a widget’s reliability measures, for example – but those days are over. Today it’s not only that widget’s reliability that matters, but how and from where you source the raw materials, how responsive your support hotline is, even what your employees are saying about you on Glassdoor.

This change makes perfect sense in a world dominated by instant information and social media. It has nothing to do with producing a warm-and-fuzzy feeling, and everything to do with smart business. Your supplier may provide cost-effective, high-quality products, but if those products were developed in repressive environments, you expose yourself to the risk of social backlash (especially if you’re a bigger company). You don’t have to think for long to remember recent examples of this.

How can quality professional contribute positively to this new reality?

  • Use tools like NPS to gauge how your customers feel about you.
  • Apply metrics to qualitative measures (such as your NPS scores), and use those metrics to communicate management expectations.
  • Open your organization to suggestions from employees, who often have the best ideas, and track those with the same attention you would a corrective action.

The techniques are the same. The only thing that’s different is the larger scope – and with that larger scope, the opportunity to effect more meaningful change than ever before.

Luigi Sille

Nowadays customers are much more educated, they know exactly what they want. They read and do research (using internet) about the products they want. In an experience economy an external customer is referred to as a “guest”, and not just a customer.  A guest does not just buy a product, but he or she pays for the experience.

How will this shift to experience economy affect the quality industry, and what quality practices can be applied or adapted to ensure success in this new economic structure? The answer is simple: SERVICE

Companies should invest in training and development of their employees to:

  • Deliver better services
  • Communicate better
  • Handle and help solve complaints/problems… “Service Recovery”
  • Expand their knowledge
  • Work on team-building

Managers should:

  • Be more flexible
  • Brainstorm (with the team) for new ideas and possibilities (Creativity & Innovation are very hot topics in the quality industry)
  • Help / guide / advise the team
  • Quality of work-life is also important
  • Deal with conflicts, and never neglect them

We have to remember that Managers have to guide, control, and motivate employees (team members) so everyone will feel that they are part of the organization. We also have to measure, one way or another, the quality of service we are delivering. But measurement of Service quality is not an easy task. Compared to measuring tangible products, it’s difficult.

Aspects of service quality that can be measured:

  • Reliability: Deliver promised service in a consistent way
  • Tangibles: physical appearance
  • Responsiveness: Willingness to offer a fast service
  • Credibility
  • Access: Easy to do business
  • Customer complaints

Maybe we (Quality professionals) have to do more on this measuring aspect. New and improved measuring methods will have a positive value for both organizations and your customers.

So the experience economy and the quality industry, go hand in hand. Improving the quality of your service will in turn deliver the experience your customers are looking for.

Dr. Suresh Gettala

Joseph Pine and James Gilmore, the two protagonists of the experience economy, argued that the transformation of the economic progress has gone through four-stages of evolution – from agrarian (commodity based) to industrial (goods based) to service (service based) and finally to experience based economy.

Source: B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, “A leader’s guide to innovation in the experience economy”, Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 42, Issue: 1, pp.24-29, 2014.

Today, experiences are construed as a distinct construct and economic offering from services just like how services were seen distinctive from goods in the earlier decades. Experiences are perceived to be unique, memorable and sustainable over time that would involve customers’ involvement at multiple levels – physical, emotional, intellectual, behavioral, social and spiritual.

The primary question that arises is: “Can the quality of the experience be measured”? Earlier dimensions of quality, predominantly were explained from a goods/services perspective, quality of the experience transcends such limited thought process and details that experience quality encompasses the “total experience” ranging from the pursuit, procurement, consumption and post-sales phases of the experience.

It has been proven through research studies that customers do construe customer experience quality and therefore able to perceive the relative superiority or inferiority of their experiences. While we can be forgiven for thinking that managing customer experiences is apropos only to the consumer industry, it must be noted that business to business milieu also provides definitive stages for experiences.

Pine and Gilmore postulates five value creating quality approaches that drive progress in the dynamic experience economy that include, customized goods, enhanced services, charging for experiences, fusing digital technology with reality and transformative experiences.

To encapsulate, “Experience” is not an immeasurable, amorphous construct but a concrete economic offering which if carefully designed and staged would result in a lasting impression on the customers. Needless to mention, this would in turn help to carve a niche for the seller organization if they can stage an experience that is going to create some memorabilia in the minds of the players that results in a transformation within the customers.

As more and more focus is being given to the quality of the experience, by both the business and the academia, prudent practitioners have realized that they can command a fee for the experience per se. Consequently, companies enabling such transformational experiences can charge not just for the goods and services or the time spent with the customers but for the transformation resulting from such experiences.

Several research and practitioner oriented articles have dwelled on the dimensions of experience quality and how they positively influence other constructs such as customer satisfaction, loyalty, retention and repeat purchases. There has been substantial proof to illustrate that effective management of experience quality is extremely crucial for achieving sustained financial success.

Apply Design Thinking to Quality Practices

 

More and more organizations are using design thinking to assess business concerns, discover creative solutions, and to establish market opportunities. As this strategy gains more traction ASQ asks:

How can design thinking be integrated with, and applied to quality practices?   

 

Prem Ranganath: The Art of Quality

Design Thinking is an opportunity to humanize quality and continuous improvement

Background: Design Thinking is a collection of methods and mindset that evolved at Stanford University and has now entered the mainstream in almost every industry. While the design thinking stages and methods might appear to be a framework, the essence of design thinking is the focus on ‘empathy’ and ‘experimentation’ to design innovative, meaningful and people focused solutions.

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.

-Tim Brown, CEO OF IDEO

Design Thinking for Quality Practitioners:

There is no dearth of frameworks, toolkits and methodologies for quality management and continuous improvement. For example, a methodology like DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) provides a structured set of methods for continuous improvement along with a set of problem-solving tools and techniques for each stage in the methodology. DMAIC provides an opportunity to assess the current state using quantitative methods and prioritize problems/ opportunities for which solutions have to be implemented.

Metrics to qualify the current state and for measuring effectiveness of the solutions implemented are typically tagged to business objectives which ensures that employees understand the alignment between improvement initiatives and the potential impact of outcomes on business objectives.

If we use the Visual-01 (below) from IDEO as a reference, traditionally quality and continuous improvement initiatives are largely driven by viability and feasibility considerations. Integrating design thinking with improvement initiatives brings the ‘human’ element into focus, by driving conversation on ‘desirability’ of the solutions being proposed for implementation.

Visual-01: Dimensions of Design Thinking (source: IDEO)

Innovation Dimensions

When desirability is considered alongside viability and feasibility on quality and continuous improvement projects, it significantly improves change management and adoption. This approach also significantly increases the odds of institutionalizing and sustaining changes and ensures the effectiveness of the changes. Use of empathy as a facet to characterize current state brings more focus on the users (internal or external customers). Applying empathy alongside prototyping to evaluate alternate solution options for the future state improves engagement from the user community and will have a positive impact on the pace and extent of adoption. An informed and engaged user is more likely to be a champion for the solutions being implemented. The combination of traditional metrics and qualitative data supporting the desirability dimension can provide a new perspective for prioritizing and driving improvements.

Visual-02: Integrating Design Thinking with DMAIC

Integrating Design Thinking with DMAICVisual-02 shows the integration of a Design Thinking flow represented by the steps Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test with the DMAIC approach for continuous improvement. Integration of design thinking methods to adopt a humanized approach to characterizing (challenges and opportunities) current state. On similar lines, engaging internal and external customers to experiment and improve in a culture of play can lead to solutions that are desired by the user community and enable the quality practitioners ability to sustain and scale the improvements.

I have used the design thinking approach and methods on large transformation initiatives and during Kaizen events and I have seen significant impact on participants’ enthusiasm and engagement. The ability to empathize and experiment puts a human face to quality and process improvements and I would highly recommend design thinking to quality practitioners. I look forward to hearing from my peers on their experience with design thinking.

 

Robert Mitchell: Quality Matters 

Use Design Thinking to Innovate Your Quality Improvement Journey

Design Thinking is a strategy-making process that focuses on customer behaviors rather than opinion (aka tribal knowledge) and market research.

There is a lot of press lately about Design Thinking concepts, applications and examples in the development of new products and opening new markets. Design Thinking was popularized by David M. Kelley and Tim Brown of IDEO and Roger Martin of the Rotman School. A very good, short video on the topic was recently published by the Harvard Business Review blog . For a more detailed explanation please read the paper, “Design for Action” written by Brown and Martin.

Design Thinking process:

Design Thinking Process
From a paper recently published by Creativity At Work, “Design Thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions for clients. A design mindset is not problem-focused, it’s solution focused and action oriented towards creating a preferred future. Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be—and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user (the customer)”.

So how might Design Thinking be applied to your Quality improvement frameworks and roadmaps? The three major stages of Design Thinking are:

  1. Observe customer behavior; define unarticulated needs
  2. Ideate, Prototype, experiment and test
  3. Bring the new concept to life; open new markets

What differentiates Design Thinking from traditional Voice of Customer collection approaches is the emphasis placed on observation of behaviors rather than relying on customers’ input to satisfaction surveys. Survey responses tend to validate Expected Quality and rarely reveal Exciting Quality opportunities (see “Kano Model”). In this way, Design Thinking is similar to Focus Panels and “Be the Customer” methods to better understand unarticulated customer needs. It is at this stage of Design Thinking that the Quality practitioner has the unique opportunity to innovate through the introduction and incorporation of Journey Mapping to document customer experiences throughout the value chain of the producer-customer relationship, from product awareness to purchase and after-sale touchpoints.

An example of customer journey map:

Customer Journey Layers

The stages in Design Thinking around Ideation and Prototyping should look very similar to your existing Product Development and Commercialization processes. Many such approaches use a stage-gate model to prototype, test, and refine product design to evaluate customer acceptance and verify production cost estimates. Quality’s role in this stage should be to coach and consult in the proper use of experimental design to minimize experimentation costs and identify potentially important interactions of inputs and process variables to optimize performance of customer needs.

Another unique opportunity in the Design Thinking process for the Quality professional is in the final stage of bringing the new concept to life. With the help of social media the properly trained Quality professional can analyze customer / consumer feedback to validate areas of satisfaction and dissatisfaction, focusing on opportunities to build loyalty and engagement.

One can debate whether Design Thinking is really all that new or novel an approach to the value creation process. Design Thinking reinforces the power of understanding customer behaviors and unarticulated needs to deliver Exciting, innovative new product and service offerings for improved customer satisfaction and engagement… and potentially opening whole new markets. Per Linda Naiman (Creativity at Work), “Design Thinking minimizes the uncertainty and risk of innovation by engaging customers or users through a series of prototypes to learn, test and refine concepts”. The Quality professional might also consider how Design Thinking and Journey Mapping can help him/her to innovate their professional services portfolio for increased customer satisfaction in teaching, coaching and consulting outcomes.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it” – Peter Drucker

 

Luciana Paulise: Biztorming

What is Design thinking

Design thinking is a systematic and collaborative creative problem solving approach focusing on customer needs, getting information by direct observation, and testing it in a disciplined way. Similar to the Lean startup approach, the key is to fail fast and fail often. Even Toyota production system promotes investigating as many alternatives as possible, to find the very best solution, and always urge to propose ideas and fail as fast as possible.

The three main stages

1) Invent the future: With design thinking you should imagine what could be, in the ideal world, with limitless boundaries. You need to think what your customer may want but don’t know. The way to do that is by “Camping out” with your customers, like Home depot does. They talk to customers, ask how their experience was, ask questions like “did you find what you expected, what about the price, was it easy to find?” Sometimes a customer just want something fast, meaning buying a product in your website in just three clicks. That is what you need to discover through observation, what is “unstated”. Customer know they want to Get from a to b, but don’t know how. You need to find out the best way by immersing in their lives, observing and asking questions.

Ideas for product changes may be related to new products, pricing or new store displays.

2) Test ideas. You can do Mindmapping to write down ideas after observation, and then test those ideas. Do first individually, and then test it with your team mates or even with your customers. Remember, don’t judge, simply think and write down.

Once you have your ideas mapped, you need to conduct experiments to test the ideas in the real world. You can also test new processes that maybe faster, easier or

Use cheap materials, or partial solutions or Rapid prototyping tools. It does’t have to look perfect at first. The idea is to go fast, to be able to adjust fast.

3) Bring the new product to life. Identify resources and activities to implement the new ideas. Plan how to produce, distribute and sell the product or how to change the process.

Some Case studies

Design thinking can be used in any type of industry. A health provider for example used it to re-engineer nursing-staff shift changes. Close observation of actual shift changes, combined with brainstorming and rapid prototyping, produced new procedures that radically streamlined information exchange between shifts. The result was more time for nursing, better-informed patient care, and a happier nursing staff.

The Innova School System, for example, with 23 schools thus far, is applying design thinking across its platform, from how the classrooms are built to the curriculum. and the UK’s Design Policy Unit  as described in Tim Browns’s first article on Design Thinking for HBR.

Samsung Electronics manufactured inexpensive, imitative electronics for other companies. Its engineers built products to meet prescribed price and performance requirements. In a company that emphasized efficiency and engineering rigor, the designers had little status or influence. Then, in 1996, Lee Kun-Hee, the chairman of Samsung Group, frustrated by the company’s lack of innovation decided that in order to become a top brand, Samsung needed expertise in design, and set out to create a design-focused culture that would support world-class innovation. It took a long way until getting everyone in the company on-board, but they finally made it. Now Samsung innovation process begins with research conducted by multidisciplinary teams of designers, engineers, marketers, ethnographers, musicians, and writers who search for users’ unmet needs and identify cultural, technological, and economic trends. Design thinking for them means three major things: empathy, visualization, and experimentation in the marketplace.

Tech companies are using quality tools to organize their innovation cycles, likewise automotive, manufacturing, or even consulting industries more focused on standardization should start using quality together with design thinking so as to get a disciplined empathetic approach to customer requirements.

Are you ready?