Monday, February 11, 2008

Politics, Religion ... and Quality?

1. "I am voting Democrat in November."
2. "I hold beliefs in both God and evolution, with no internal conflict."
3. "I am creating a Lean Six Sigma training program."

What do these three statements have in common?

All three can start a lively, if not heated, debate. Yes, Quality has now joined with Politics and Religion, creating a new triune of social taboos.

Over the past few months, I have had uncomfortable encounters with colleagues who have told me exactly what they thought of the curriculum we developed for Lean Six Sigma training. In many cases, we were told that we omitted a crucial topic, and because of this, our entire implementation program would fail. Or, they would dive down in the weeds and argue that we should call a SIPOC diagram a COPIS diagram since customers always come first.

In the first case, the "all or nothing success" belief is simply not true. In the big scheme, will we fail because we introduce Kano models but leave the House of Quality out of our Yellow Belt training? Or because we defer the discussion of SPC charts until Black Belt? As I jokingly point out, there are hundreds of ways our implementation can fail, so we can't pin all our hopes of failure on just one topic.

I am less jocular when dealing with the second case, in which people argue about the correct pronunciation of poka yoke or whether Sturgis' rule should always be applied when constructing histograms. Those are the type of non-value-added arguments better saved for a Lean Six Sigma remake of Waiting for Godot.

Let's hear from you: Do you have colleagues who feel useful only when they dictate which tools should be implemented and in which way? How do you handle them? Egads -- Are they ever right?

© 2016 Mary McShane-Vaughn


leeda said...

Some people would rather critcize than compliment. Judging how the MSQA rogram has been built and improved upon, I'm sure that your program is sound. Everyone has their opinion of what is important, but that doesn't mean it should be included in your training, as I'm sure there must be a limit to the scope.

Maybe they're just jealous because THEY aren't the ones who developed it?!

Anonymous said...

I am very impressed with the tools that SPSU has decided to place in their Lean Six Sigma coursework.

Yes, I have colleagues that can only use a certain set of tools in a certain way and if the script changes... they are thrown for a loop. But I wish I could recall the quote from Kim Vicente's book (used in the Human Factors course). However He stated that having women in industry is of vital importance because they can approach a problem from various sides at the same time.

How I usually approach my peers when they get stuck; I will state let's get out the box for a moment. For example I was applying Value Stream mapping to office process back in 1999. My bosses thought it was a waste of time and effort (what a play on words). Anyway, I was able to eliminate waste in my area and use the 5S tools to help train engineers in my area to become more efficient. Now the company I work for presently is holding a training session on VSM for an office process at the end of this month.

In summary, just because we don't have all the tools in the toolkit, we can adapt. A basic understanding of the Lean Six Sigma methodology is all that is necessary to encourage creative thinking which is the pride of the USA!!!


HugeElvis said...

There are many names for quality tools, but they all come from the same toolbox. Lean 6 sigma is having a good run as the most popular quality system. I haven't seen your classes, but I am sure you used a structured approach for your program.
Most of the discussions I have heard are how tools named under 6 sigma are better than traditional quality tools. "DMAIC is better than 7 step" etc.
I think you nailed it when you said quality has entered the realm of politics and religion. It is a good thing to have passion for a subject, but keep an open mind on all three topics and try to see the big picture.
You may not agree with the details, but the intent is valid.

Bill said...

I have seen lots of different approaches to quality improvement, and lots of different tools. I have seen them succeed and I have seen them fail.

Success comes from commitment, involvement, a systems approach, and thorough execution. Failure comes from the lack of at least one of these.

Bill Bailey

jstults said...

I thought your topic was silly when I first started reading, but when I got to the bottom I had to agree. Whenever you have bunches of people with beliefs that are not critically examined you get those types of arguments. People argue about inanities because they don't really understand what the original purpose or motivation for a particular tool or technique was. It has just been delivered to them off the mountain.

By the way, I found your blog because you are one of the 5 (!) people on blogger that has 'design of experiments' in your interests. I would've thought a topic that important would get more play.