Jim Johnstone is the owner of Johnstone Global Consulting Services, where he helps companies solve their supply chain problems so they can focus on their customers' needs. Before starting his business, Johnstone worked for 35 years at large firms. Johnstone has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and an MBA, and has been an ASQ member for about a year.
Recently, Johnstone answered a few questions about Six Sigma.
What do you think is most important in implementing a Six Sigma project?
Defining the problem correctly. Solving the wrong problem is wasteful and delays getting to the desired outcome.
Why do you think Six Sigma is important?
The Six Sigma problem-solving process helps you understand what the problem is when you do not know what it is already, by using data to statistically identify the principle contributing factors. Then, when you implement a solution, you again use data to validate that the solution is effective. Finally, once you have adopted the solution, you collect data to monitor the process and decide when to take actions that allow you to control the process and produce consistent results.
Without this strong emphasis on use of data you are forced to rely on past experience and make random trial and error adjustments. Past experience can be extremely important in well understood processes but many new products today rely on new processes that are not well understood. The define, measure, analyze, improve and control method gives us an economical way to solve problems, continuously improve our processes and keep them in control.
Why do you think quality is important?
Quality, conformance to the customer’s requirements, is the most important part of satisfying the customer. Without a satisfied customer, all the effort to create a product or service is wasted. Therefore, we need to measure how well we are doing at satisfying our customer’s needs, we need to identify the key underlying process variables that will predict success in meeting the customer’s requirements, and we need to manage the process in a way the allows us to minimize wasted resources. Successful quality management means satisfied customers, efficient operations, a better environment, and job security.
What’s your favorite benefit of quality?
The pride that comes from producing a superior product or service that delights your customers.
Why did you choose to go into the quality field?
I realized I had a knack for it very early in my career when I was involved in the development of digital wristwatches.
What’s your best advice to someone new to quality?
Learn how to let the data speak for itself.