First-time Quality

W. Edwards Deming, the famous mathematician and management consultant, taught the world about the importance of quality with his statement:

“Improve quality and you automatically Improve productivity capture market share with lower price and better quality, stay in business, and provide jobs. So simple.”

Yet, it has not been so simple. Companies continually struggle with the right formula to consistently produce a quality product. Our experience has shown us that too many companies spend inordinate amounts of time concentrating on the “hard” side of quality systems. And, that the great companies have been able to balance the hard and soft – the people side – elements to create the business processes and company culture needed to create quality products year after year.

There are the elements of a quality system we think are required to achieve greatness:

Up-Front activities to yield long-term success in the creating of quality products:

  • Quality designs, product development, and a standard launch process
  • Quality processes
  • Capable equipment and machinery
  • Detailed implementation and product launch plans
  • Purchased parts that meet customer quality, cost and delivery requirements

Companies that have a strong quality reputation also have:

  • Leaders who understand and execute their oversight responsibility for quality
  • Production process that stop when a defect or any abnormality occurs
  • A system with several layers of quality confirmation checks in place to validate upstream processes and highlight deficiencies in the system
  • A vigorous problem solving process with almost all employees participating
  • A management system that helps others eliminate the causes of waste
  • A framework that provides structural integrity for the quality system. It includes: teamwork, employee engagement, a continuous improvement process and standardization

This is our approach to improving quality systems and results.

Continuous Improvement

Get the religion of continuous improvement. A successful operation requires ongoing problem solving. Leadership’s role is to emphasize that problems are best solved at their source by the people engaged in the day-to-day operation who can best analyze the problem and implement the needed change. So, to improve your organization, start by getting serious about problems. Improvement always begins with a problem–the smaller the problem, the better.

Start by asking managers and engineers to work on their own areas first. Don’t start with the real sticky problems. Start with a modest problem that a few managers can tackle, and then present their findings to the leaders.

Teams should work on simple problems in their own areas or this can get out of hand. And don’t worry too much about which problem solving techniques you use – find a good one and stick to it. The results? Better teamwork, smarter workers and more enthusiasm. Problems are a source of riches for any business and are the essence of the kaizen philosophy.
Management emphasis should not be only on dollars saved but on participation–focus on the process and the results will take care of themselves.

This is our approach to help clients improve their bottom line results.