ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

March 1999

Facing The Music In The Global Marketplace

Military Intelligence - Not An Oxymoron

Starting A Revolution Where Everyone Wins

The New Leadership Class

Let's Give Them Something To Talk About

by Peter Block
Sorry We're Closed: Diary of A Shutdown

Brief Cases
Business News Briefs

Views for a Change

Sites Unseen

The Quality Tool I Never Use

Book Review


The Quality Tool I Never Use

Ronald Tatum
Manufacturing Manager
Dupont Nonwovens
Richmond, Va.

Ronald Tatum's 30 years of experience working in a team-based environment distinguishes him as someone who knows what works and what doesn't. Prior to working at Dupont, Tatum was in the automotive industry as a retail sales representative and his experience includes a manufacturing career as a member of wage roll, and then a team leader. Tatum is president of the Richmond chapter of AQP.

What is the tool that didn't work for you?
Measurements using status charts had less than spectacular results for me. The blanket belief that status charts can build team enthusiasm is lacking in some regards. These might be line charts, bar charts, control charts and so on. Yes, status charts do provide feedback at a glance. They can tell us if success is being achieved and that knowledge can serve as an inspiration to continue improvement.

What made this tool less than spectacular?
The status charting used was a combination of line and bar charts. The purpose was to increase the awareness around production needs. The leader of the group charted production runs for four shifts in a manufacturing operation. There were a number of problems associated with this tool because not every team member was consulted and there wasn't any discussion or sharing of the needs for improvement.

How would you fix the tool?
First, start with the awareness that motivation for quality is not something needed solely by the work-force. We need motivation for quality among all the human forces within the company starting at the top with CEOs. The subject of motivation for quality also presents a strange contradiction which arises because the word “motivation” has multiple meanings. Clearly define the company's quality mission statement. The motivation for quality generated in your mission statement needs to address two critical areas: 1. Motivation for quality that conforms to quality specifications and adheres to procedures. 2. Involvement, inclusion and empowerment of individuals within the company.

What words of counsel/warning would you give to someone else before they used the tool?
Although charting does have some positive aspects, in today's team-based organizations it has an overwhelmingly negative impact. It's more rewarding to the company to promote a win-win environment that does not identify who is leading or losing, or which shift ranked first and which was fourth. This kind of information has its place, but not for everyone to compare. The truth of all this is: “If your last-place team is not in first place with the customer, you're already coming up short.” Identifying divisiveness or posting performance causes more harm than good within the company.

March '99 News for a Change | Email Editor
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