Oil and Gas Industrial zone,The equipment of oil refining,Close-up of industrial pipelines of an oil-refinery plant,Detail of oil pipeline with valves in large oil refinery.



17. Why Quality?


Armed with powerful tools to improve quality, what can (should) we do with them?

Massive and Continual Training!!!

Learning is vital. But equally important is retention of lessons learned. We must focus on methods and processes. The lessons we learn must be woven into the fabric of the organization. There IS a best-known way (not necessarily the best way) to do anything and we must discover what that way is and then improve it. But the key is to retain, to store those lessons learned into the “memory” of the company.

Otherwise, we all go up our own learning curves in a terribly inefficient manner, reinventing the wheel with each new project. If anyone finds a better way, we must capture that learning. We can learn a great deal from others. Americans have been recognized leaders in innovation, but not in every case. The Germans invented the gasoline powered car, but it took Henry Ford to give customers a cheap reliable vehicle. The Germans were also the first to use jet airplanes, but it was the Americans who eventually capitalized on the commercial possibilities of jet aviation.

The British invented most of the tools of mass production, but the Americans applied them to commercial use. The culture of our organization must support these efforts to learn and improve. Paramount in this learning and training effort is the understanding of the intimate connection between the rate of learning and the rate of improvement. In no better place is this true than in the everyday use of statistics in the learning process, stimulating the way we think about learning. Statistics provides a common language of improvement.

If we consider training as simply the cost of doing business, rather than an investment with an expected return, that is what we’ll get. How training is to be staged is an important output of a quality council. Expectations are wonderful.

Learning is a new form of labor. It is no longer a separate activity that occurs either before one enters the workplace or in remote class settings. Learning is the heart of proactive activities. This moves us into a dynamic world, instead of a static one, where continual change and improvement are the norm.

Training employees to the hilt and encouraging them to develop themselves at company expense is the way organizations pay for the right to demand loyalty. It’s also part of the price they pay for the privilege of operating in a free country.

The TWO journeys to eliminate waste:
Diagnostic Journey
From Symptom to Cause
Remedial Journey
From Cause to Remedy
The THREE phases of maturity:
Dependence –
“You take care of me…
“You came through for me…
“I blame you…
Independence –
“I can do it…
“I am responsible…
“I can choose…
Interdependence –
“We can do it…
“We can cooperate…
“We can combine our talents to…
Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make.

Are you here with a solution…? Or, are you part of the problem?

Trust is the highest form of human motivation. There are two kinds of delegation.
1) “Gofer – Go for this and that & tell me when its done.”
2) “Stewardship – Give people a choice and make them responsible for the results.”

Efficiency: Doing things right.
Effectiveness: Doing the right things.

Which is more important??? Remember, Aesop’s goose with the golden eggs? We must consider both the P and the PC. P = Production (getting the result), and PC = Production Capability – the ability or asset that produces the golden eggs.

Most people see effectiveness from the Golden Egg paradigm: The more you produce, the more you do, the more effective you are. But true effectiveness is a function of two things; what is produced (the golden eggs) and the producing asset or capacity to produce (the goose).

If you adopt a pattern of life that focuses on the eggs and neglects the goose you will soon be without the asset that produces the golden eggs. On the other hand, if you only take care of the goose, you soon won’t be able to feed the goose or yourself.

Life Behind the Quality Dikes
Before industrialization, the great mass of humanity lived in villages with primitive conditions of transport, communication, energy sources, health care, Etc. Life was short and exhausting, with much poverty, disease, and hunger.

This has changed with the industrial revolution in many countries, where hundreds of millions to people can now reorganize their lives in ways which take advantage of central energy sources, modern transport and communication, improved health, longer life, reduced toil, opportunity for travel, time for cultural activities, etc. These are all important benefits, but they have generated a dependence our forefathers did not have to worry about… the Quality of manufactured products and services.

We take this dependence for granted but it is very serious indeed. For instance, in the U.S. over 80% of the work force used privately owned vehicles for transportation to the work place. If the vehicle fails, the motorist simply cannot walk to work – they no longer live within walking distance of their work. When the auto fails, we must arrange for some alternative.

Our dependence in so many critical issues in our lives has been likened to living behind quality dikes. Our dependence on quality is much like the Dutch living behind quality dikes. About one third of their lands lie below sea level. The land provides great benefits, but to use it requires that massive sea walls be built and maintained to keep the sea water out. Likewise, modern products and services provide great benefits but also demand protective dikes in the form of adequate quality controls.

Why should anyone take such a risk? One explanation,           “Because the thought of being average scares the hell out of me.” That is why some see a mountain as an obstacle, others see it as something to be climbed.

The right things. For instance using a control chart to maintain a process in a state of statistical control might be doing it the right way, but may be the wrong use of allocated resources. Only an alert management team can provide leadership necessary to make those type decisions. It has been said we need more leaders and fewer managers in today’s competitive market place.

Problem solving deals with two separate journeys; First, the diagnostic journey, “What’s wrong?” The second is the remedial journey, “Go fix it!” The first is the more difficult and time consuming. These two journeys require different sets of skills, and the same people may not be equipped to do both.

A good leader must have infectious optimism. The greatest test for a leader is how you feel when leaving his presence after a conference. Do you feel uplifted and confident?

The good leaders believe in people. They believe all people will contribute if given the chance. Members can be ordered to come to work five days a week, to work their full shift, bt they cannot be ordered to perform in an excellent fashion. Excellence, by its definition at all levels is a purely voluntary commitment. It will happen only if the job is sincerely “owned.”

A passionate response by Ren McPhereson, former chairman of the Data Corporation and one of the truly great industrial leaders of our time, was made when a Consultant told him what he should do with ”his” people, “…No! No! No! Not do this or that for your people! They aren’t ‘your people.’ You don’t own ‘em. Don’t you see?”

Another reason for establishing very close customer contact relates to perceptions of what product quality really is. The customer (user) is only concerned with fitness for use, that is, does the product do what it is supposed to do? The manufacturer, on the other hand, is only concerned with conformance to spec at final test. Is it ever possible that these two perceptions of quality do not match? It is critical that we are close enough to the customer to really know how well conformance to specs at final test comply with the customer perception of fitness for use.

Quality is what the customer says he needs, not what our tests indicate is satisfactory. We must be sure that customer perceptions are a valued input to the quality program.

Become obsessed with listening! Get out from behind the desk to where the customers are, hang out on their turf, listen “Naively” and intensely, providing fast feedback on quick action.

Excellent companies do not believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change. In today’s marketplace, the ability to change rapidly, to reduce the design/prototype phase of new product development, will be the key to success. The use of statistical techniques is essential in this measurement process, to get the maximum amount of information out of the available data.    Statistics should be viewed as important tools to help collect and present data to evaluate current theories and to form new theories. In other words, statistics help us learn.

Major management effort must be aimed at making non-stop small improvements that inch productivity along. Process breakthroughs are welcomed, but the real success comes from incremental improvements in mature technologies.

The only way to ensure 100% usable purchased parts and materials from vendors is to teach them the value of quality planning, quality improvement, and quality control. This cannot be dictated via purchase requirements, but only through long-term partnerships and a handshake mentality as members of the same team. This will include accurately defined specifications for the vendors to deal with, involved early in the design cycle, with adequate quality index targets. It must also include levels of trust and flexibility allowing the vendor to use his resources in the best manner. A teamwork effort of this sort must clearly communicate to all suppliers the detail and extent of company expectations.


Funditty #17.   “Life would have been infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.”
Mark Twain

Bob Robertson

Bob Robertson

Bob Robertson is a retired professional quality engineer and educator with extensive experience in manufacturing environments throughout the world, including Singapore, Indonesia, Russia, and various locations throughout the United States. Besides all that, he Leslie Householder's admired and revered father, and she is pleased to spotlight his "Expat" stories here on her Rare Faith blog.