The best definition of quality is provided by Dr. Joseph Juran. When I started to work for Standard Microsystems in New York, I was blessed to sit through a two-week presentation by Dr. Juran. What I learned in that 80 hour session propelled me to a higher level understanding and grasp of all things quality!
Joseph Moses Juran is considered the father of Quality Control. His Quality Control Handbook is the number one reference for quality practitioners. Dr. Juran wrote many books and traveled the world, training top leaders in quality control concepts. He created a trilogy for managing Quality, based on Planning, Control, and Improvement. He fathered the idea of applying the Pareto principle to reducing defects. The 80-20 rule states that 80% of the problems come from 20% of the causes. Pareto charts are taught in all introductory quality courses. In addition he championed the idea that the number one root cause to almost all problems is “resistance to change”.
Poor quality costs us four ways; Prevention, Appraisal, Internal-failure, and External-failure. Rather than talk of the cost of quality, it makes more sense to talk of the costs of poor quality. Each of these four categories must be targeted for us to compete in today’s global marketplace.
Dr. Juran breaks problem solving down into two journeys, the diagnostic and the remedial. He suggest the first is more important. Too little time is spent defining the problem. It is necessary to choose the method before starting the journey. Consider the journey as crossing a river. Do we need to build a bridge, must we cross in a boat, can we just leap across without the help of any structure?
Once diagnosed, the remedy is usually mechanical. We can provide better product at lower cost ahead of the need, with a smile! We must anticipate what our customers will want or need before the journey. That means some of our widest and most treacherous rivers are not even apparent to our customers yet. A lot of “what if?” queries about good, cheap, fast, and happy need to be made to improve our competitive position.
Problems often go unheeded, for fear of being swept away in undercurrents or whitewater, never reaching the other side. By problems we imply both special and common causes of variation. Variation from what is to what should (needs) be. We must strive to make unstable processes stable, and to make stable but incapable processes capable, and to make capable processes yet more capable. Problems are opportunities for improvement. And if we don’t find the problems, they will surely find us. The supposition that it is only necessary to meet specifications is a bar to improvement.
“The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of
the earth, the continents, and the oceans was not
ignorance but the illusion of knowledge.”
(Daniel J. Boorstin)
How appropriate an observation, as we attempt to improve a production process. Anybody’s job should not merely be to ‘do it right’ but to ‘do it better.’
Problem Solving: The best use of Problem Analysis is to use what works best. There is no virtue attached to slavish adherence to every step in an entire process if a brief, informal use of the ideas can reveal the cause of the problem.
A group could ask “why?” indefinitely without ever finding the cause of a problem. Once the question “When?” had been asked and answered, the people involved could focus their technical expertise where it would do the most good.
A Problem analysis team should always include at least one member who has no technical expertise that bears directly on understanding the problem’s content. The inclusion of a non-expert can keep the team from getting bogged down in the details of the problem and giving undue weight assumptions based on content expertise and technical background.
A change in something is what creates a deviation. Once the rationale of the steps in PA have been internalized, the steps can be pulled apart to suit the particular needs of a situation.
Problem analysis techniques help people work together I organizing information so that cause-and-effect relationships can be clearly seen.
This step enables us to accurately identify, describe, analyze, and resolve a situation in which something has gone wrong without explanation. It gives us a methodical means to extract essential information from a troublesome situation and set aside irrelevant, confusing information.
Applying knowledge of cause-and-effect relationships: of what had happened and why, to what could happen and what the future might hold. Unfortunately, the future holds less urgency than the present. This largely remains an unfulfilled potential; the ability to plan ahead, to take action today against the negative events of tomorrow.
In order to get the maximum contribution of relevant information from a number of people working on one problem, some kind of structure is essential. It is also essential that people understand each other’s words. You have probably seen this little sign on an office wall or desk: “I know that you believe you understood what you thought I said, but what I said is not what I meant!”
Many companies, proud of their product quality, rigidly enforce a quality policy that requires rigorous product inspections and immediate process shutdowns and 100% sorting when problems are detected.
When management accepts this policy, they fully expect the lines to be shut down often to protect their image as a high quality supplier. They naturally accept the costs required for a team of inspectors to ensure high outgoing quality. Since management knows that customers delivery schedules must be met, they approve of the high cost of adequate work-in-process inventories to buffer the shutdowns.
Additional personnel are required to make mid-course changes, such as schedulers, material expediters, machine changeover people, process engineering trouble shooters, and additional production supervisors. Additional management staff are also required to deal with the unpredictable production operations.
Tampering with a stable process increases variability. But what is a stable process? One with no variability? Action taken on a stable system in response to variation within the control limits, in an effort to compensate for this variation, is tampering. This holds even if a stable system is producing faulty items. A faulty item is not a signal of a special cause. Watch trends well within specs allowing adjustments to be made before bad product is produced.
It is impossible to have zero variability. That is why we have tolerances on specifications. For instance, if the aim of a dimension is 20 mm, the design specification might say 20 +/- .03 mm. This would tell the manufacturing department that, while it should aim for 20 mm, anything between 19.97 and 20.03 is all right. The signal in this case is 20, the noise is +/- 0.03.
Engineers are taught deterministic methods and sheltered from the reality of variation. One such example, documented by Genichi Taguchi, concerns the design of a power supply. Taguchi reported that the initial design of a power supply, which consisted of 13 active components, put the output voltage at the specified set point of 115 but with a standard deviation of 12 volts. By using the methods involving the S/N just described, the variation was reduced to only one volt without upgrading the tolerances of any of the components. In other words, in this 13 variable function, the DOE was able to put the voltage characteristic on target with low variation and do so at less cost within a short development time.
Attacking the causes of product variation requires a change of practices that extends far beyond the realm of the operator, into every function and level of the organization. The leadership, investment of resources, and change of organizational systems required to achieve sustained improvement in all areas of the business, including production, cannot be accomplished by anyone except managers. It is often difficult to convince managers that they should lead and participate in quality improvement.
Many managers do not see the effect of quality on the traditional internal measures of business performance (cost, throughput, performance to schedule, equipment utilization, etc.). Each measure is usually evaluated separately from all others. Sometimes there appears to be limited understanding of the measures’ interrelationships and mutual dependence on the quality of daily work that goes on in the entire organization. Without the active participation of every individual in the organization, including leaders, requiring improvements will probably not be sufficient for long-term survival.
Upper managers lacked working knowledge about how to manage for quality. [Ready, fire, aim] To make a wise choice of strategy, managers need knowledge about how to manage for quality. Compared to financial management:
1 – Financial Planning,
2 – Financial Control,
3 – Financial Improvement.
Quality Management uses the same 3 processes – (The Quality Trilogy);
1 – Quality Planning (ID the customer needs),
2 – Quality Control,
3 – Quality Improvement.
Deming first taught the math of CONTROL, he then told the Japanese they needed to talk to his friend Juran, who came in and taught IMPROVEMENT (the management side of the coin). Juran had published his Quality Control Handbook in 1951, which the Japanese got hold of and asked, who is Juran? This demonstrates there was a 10 year investment by Quality Managers before they saw any success.
Financial management uses three stages: 1. Financial planning, 2. Financial control (cost control, expense control), 3. Financial improvement. Any quality operation that does not include all three stages will fail.
Management for quality uses the same three processes
The Quality Trilogy :
Planning (The customer, both external and internal, determine product needs and requirements),
Control (Develop the means to satisfy customer needs and requirements),
Improvement (The most important feature of the trilogy is the continual improvement of the product/service).
This Quality concept applies to all industries, functions and processes. We note that once the planning is complete, there is no clear responsibility for improvement. The operating forces take over, but their job is quality control, not quality improvement.
How have so many companies made such improvements? Resounding feedback is that they did it by establishing a new organization structure, and new managerial processes especially designed to make new improvements in quality.
Middle managers already have formal, legitimate goals, budgets, specification, quotas,… Vagueness cannot compete with structure and legitimacy.
Traditionally, once the Quality Control function is in place, when planning is complete, there is no clear responsibility for improvement. The operating forces take over, but their job is quality control, not quality improvement. This serious lack of foresight must be corrected.
How then have so many companies made such improvements? Resounding feedback is that they did it by establishing a new organizational structure, and new managerial processes especially designed to make new improvements in quality. Middle managers already have formal, legitimate goals, budgets, specifications, and quotas. Vagueness cannot compete with structure and legitimacy.
Juran counsel’s to get things right with the workforce, that three things are essential from the management position so that they have fully empowered the workforce:
1) Clear written statement of what is expected of the employee,
2) A clear understanding of how each employee is doing against those expectations,
3) The ability to change any difference between 1 and 2. They must insist on these three things from any employer to make their maximum contribution.
Dr. Juran breaks problem solving down into two journeys, the diagnostic and the remedial. He suggest the first is more important. Too little time is spent defining the problem. It is necessary to define the method before we start to cross. Do we need to build a bridge, must we cross in a boat, can we just leap across without the help of any structure?
Once diagnosed, the remedy is usually mechanical and we can provide better product at lower cost ahead of the need, with a smile! We must anticipate what our customers will want or need before the want or need is evident. That is, if we want to stay ahead of the competition. Some of our widest and most treacherous rivers are not even apparent to our customers yet. That means a lot of “what if?” queries about good, cheap, fast, and happy to continually improve our competitive position.
Management for quality uses the same 3 processes, called the quality trilogy; Planning (ID the customer, both external and internal, determine customer needs, develop product features that satisfy customer needs, both products and services), establish product goals for those features, develop a process to meet those product goals, prove that the process can meet the goals under operating conditions. Then turn over to operating forces; Quality control.
The job of the operating forces is to maintain whatever quality level has been planned into the process, and to put out fires.
We note that once the planning is complete, there is no clear responsibility for improvement. The operating forces take over, but their job is quality control, not quality improvement.
How then have so many companies made such improvements? Resounding feedback is that they did it by establishing a new organizational structure, and new managerial processes especially designed to make new improvements in quality. Middle managers already have formal, legitimate goals, budgets, specifications, quotas, etc.
What does all this mean to us in industrial problem solving? Most of us have been pulled or pushed through an educational system that has cherished language, numbers, sequential thinking, logic, and verbal memories (all left brain stuff).
What has been neglected is the non-verbal, non-number, non-obvious part of our brain. How about intuition? How about the gut-feel of a situation? How about the visual “aha!” that comes when we really understand an issue, when that light seems to go on?
The great achievers always visualize their goals before they set-out to achieve them. The methods to get there often appear in the form of hunches and intuition. True breakthroughs in any field usually originate in the right brain. It was Albert Einstein who said “The really valuable thing is intuition.”
We have mistakenly been led to believe that words and numbers equate to human intelligence. We now know that is only half the answer. As we demonstrated earlier, we respond to visual stimuli more readily than verbal. The right brain has a powerful role to play in the way we approach problems. Remember the missing ingredient in split-brain patients mentioned earlier? What was missing and what is so vital to the work we do is the communication that goes on between the left and right brains. We can observe it but we can’t explain it. We know it goes on but not why. We call it intuition and it must be used in our approach to the solution of industrial problems.
1) Orientation: Define the problem in its total context.
2) Over-preparation: Study, read, interview, experiment, do everything possible to load the left-brain with information about the problem and all its implications. Overwhelm the left brain with details relating to the problem.
3) Incubation: Drop the whole thing for a period, a day, a night and a day, a week, an hour, whatever is available, and let the left brain communicate with the image-processing right brain.
4) Illumination: Enjoy the ideas that flow into your consciousness,
the insights, the intuition that provide pictures of solutions
A defect in our left-brain thinking process is the notion that there is only one answer or only one best solution to a problem. That notion limits our ability to solve industrial problems. The image processor on the right side can bring to our attention many possibilities. These ideas may seem off-the-wall, but they can as often provide insight otherwise missed.
“What if” thinking benefits most from this approach, or better, stimulates the flow of ideas to more permanent and lasting solutions.