Quality Transformation With David Schwinn’s picture

By: Quality Transformation With David Schwinn

As we continue our sabbatical journey, more opportunities for the improvement of management practices continue to appear. This month, the overriding theme that I have observed is the lack of front-line performance that seems to be a result of the system. I have been reminded of the many times we as managers and leaders have blamed front-line folks for system-induced problems when, in fact, the systems we have devised have caused the problems. Here are a few opportunities I have observed on our trek.

In my May 2011 column (“Under-Promise, Over-Deliver”), I wrote about our school travel agent and the theme of meeting, and even exceeding, customer expectations. As I think about some of our encounters since then, I may have settled on last month’s theme because of my own shortcomings. Barb Hummel, a good friend and colleague of my wife, Carole, and mine, used to say we had “big eyes.” She meant we were likely to take on challenges that seemed to be beyond our known, existing capabilities. That may still be true. This sabbatical may be a recent example.

Denise Robitaille’s picture

By: Denise Robitaille

The headline’s question seemed a bit far-fetched to me when it was originally posed. The answer provided another delightful illustration of the myriad analogies we find in our everyday lives that relate so effortlessly to our work as quality professionals. The comparison demonstrated the complexity and uniqueness of each organization’s quality management system (QMS).


This analogy is so clever that I wish I could claim authorship. But I am indebted to Bob Pojasek of Capaccio Environmental Engineering for his presentation at BOSCON (ASQ Boston Section’s annual conference).

So, back to Scrabble and your QMS. Consider this: Every Scrabble game has a defined number of tiles. It is also played within the constraints of the game board.

Cor Groenveld’s picture

By: Cor Groenveld

How safe is our food? It is a question asked all over the world on a daily basis as food-scare stories fill the media and governments act to calm consumer fears. There is a real and tangible concern among the public; an IBM consumer confidence survey in 2009 found that 80 percent of those questioned do not trust the food they buy.

In truth, the food chain is almost certainly safer today than at any time in history, yet there is still much to be done. Public trust must be restored, and there is a need for more transparency across food supply chains. A large part of the problem is the number of different food safety standards around the world. Major retailers often create their own bespoke set of standards which they impose on their suppliers, creating further fragmentation.

Suppliers are left confused, wondering which standards to follow. The fragmentation only harms transparency and erodes trust.

Paul Naysmith’s picture

By: Paul Naysmith

If you're reading this article, especially in the United Kingdom, it’s possible that you are a member of the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI). As I currently understand it, the average member is in her mid-50s, and therefore you may be looking not so far into the future to your retirement. You probably had, or currently are having, a successful career in the quality profession. However, if you look behind you, do you have someone competent to fill your shoes?

During the 10 years or so since I have been in business, I have to state that there are an ever-decreasing number of graduates in the United Kingdom coming from a technical background. Fewer and fewer science or engineering graduates are gracing the pages of recruiters, and as a result, this is a golden period for salaries in technical roles. Also in my opinion, the quality of these graduates is lower than when I graduated in 2000. If you are an average member, you would no doubt argue that even my generation of graduates were of a lower standard than yours.

Tracker Handbook by Art Kietlinski’s picture

By: Tracker Handbook by Art Kietlinski

During the past 30 years I’ve had the opportunity to measure quite a few manufactured parts, machine tools, fabrications, and large vessels. I’ve also reviewed hundreds of metrology surveys done by technicians. Unfortunately, on more than one occasion I’ve seen data that were scaled incorrectly or not scaled at all. The results of incorrect thermal scaling may cause inaccurate data, showing faulty parts even if the parts are not faulty. It is essential to understand the purpose and importance of thermal scaling.

Unless otherwise noted, a drawing or model is scaled at 1, or 68°F. In quality labs, temperatures are consistent even though that may not always be the case. Measuring different parts in varying temperatures may cause the material to expand and contract due to thermal change. This change can be calculated by using the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE). Most measurement software packages include the capability to apply the CTE calculation to the measurement file based on a particular material type.

MIT News’s picture

By: MIT News

When a supply chain is firing on all cylinders—moving products, information, and money on schedule—it goes largely unnoticed, at least to the average consumer. You expect to find the supplies you need at the grocery store, and to receive your latest Amazon order within five business days.

But getting a product from the manufacturer to your doorstep involves a complex chain of contracts, transportation, customs, inventory control, planning, and demand forecasting, among other steps. When parts and demand for a product come from around the world, the supply chain becomes an intricate network.

“A supply chain that can deliver around the globe on time at low cost takes years to build,” says Yossi Sheffi, director of MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL). “It brings real competitive advantage [to a company], and that’s why supply chains are important and becoming more so.”

Joseph A. De Feo, Alexander Janssen, Brad Wood Ph.D’s default image

By: Joseph A. De Feo, Alexander Janssen, Brad Wood Ph.D

This is one of the first questions that executives always ask me. Because it is a broad question, the answer is often challenging. I usually respond with a few examples that have been gathered in Juran Institute’s 20-year benchmarking practice database, such as Company A is this, and Company B is that. The executives then respond, “We are better than that company. Why are they the benchmark and not us?” Or, “Look what happened to them last year; their business tanked. Ours did not.” My response then is, “You have not tanked yet, but you will because you are not doing what the best do, and your customers do not look at you as the best.”

The benchmarks, or world class, or those that provide superior quality, are those companies, large or small, whose customers cite them as the best. Why? Because their business results are sustainable over time, and they continue to drive to new and better performance levels to stay ahead of the competition.

Why benchmark at all? After all, it is an old tool first made popular by Xerox during the 1980s. Our experience has convinced us that an organization benchmarks its competitors, or the best outside an industry, for three reasons:

1. The organization wants to improve performance but does not want to reinvent the wheel.

Angelo Lyall’s picture

By: Angelo Lyall

It seems the most popular way to improve a process these days is by applying the glorious "Lean Toolkit." Many companies focus on learning and implementing process improvement practices introduced by Toyota without realizing the same success that Toyota achieved. How can it be that so many firms are implementing Toyota's lean teachings, and so few are achieving the significant results that they seek?

The popular approach

Let's start by looking at the modern firm that implements lean tools and techniques in hopes of experiencing the types of outcomes that were achieved by Toyota decades ago when the Toyota Production System was first introduced to the world (and later marketed by others as the Lean Toolkit). Figure 1 shows the flow of process improvement execution that many firms employ.

Figure 1: Common process improvement flow

Bruce Hamilton’s picture

By: Bruce Hamilton

In my last blog post, “Everybody Everyday” I made the case for regular practice of new perspectives, behaviors, and practices. All new learners begin by just “going through the motions” and gradually become proficient through regular practice. I’ve personally gone to sleep many nights pondering a new concept or thinking about a new skill only to awaken the next morning with greater understanding. It seems as though our brains actively reflect on the day’s experiences while we sleep. Each day of practice that we miss is therefore a day void of that particular learning. It’s time lost that cannot be made up by cramming. I’m not offering proof here, only my own repeated experience.

In the case of my 7-year-old son’s guitar lessons, I reminded him of this: Practice makes perfect.

Sam Pfeifle’s picture

By: Sam Pfeifle

The web is buzzing about Nokia’s Ovi Maps—and rightly so. The new 3-D interface the company has debuted, which allows you to take amazing 3-D fly-throughs of some of the world’s most beautiful cities, is a revelation. If you haven’t played with it yet, do so now by clicking here and wasting a significant part of your day.

I recommend starting with New York because the skyscrapers best optimize the 3-D effect. (You’re going to need to download a little Ovi plug-in, but it only takes a couple of seconds. Just do it. Trust me. Also, make sure you notice the “Pick a City” button in the lower left-hand corner; it’s not immediately apparent.)

For those less adventurous, this is what you can see of New York:

It’s much, much cooler when you can spin it around and dive into it and run into skyscrapers by mistake. There are currently 20 cities you can check out, which are obviously the ones where Nokia has done the flyover and integrated the image information with the lidar data.

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