Welcome to another Throwback Thursday. Our blog today comes from 2016 and is on Quality
Quality goes hand and hand with reputation. A person or company with good quality will usually have a good reputation. A person or company without a quality product or output will still have a reputation, it just, most likely not be a good one. In many Pacific rim industrial centers, quality is related to morality. A person who produces items of poor quality is looked at as someone with poor morals
Quality discussions and ideas are found online, in isles of books, and in billions of dollars’ worth of consulting and training that are sold each year. TQM, 8-D, Six-Sigma, 5-S, just name a very few of the thousands of methods used in various industries and companies, ranging from electronic system technologies to healthcare and on to the service industry.
Quality does not just naturally happen. You have to work at quality to have a good quality. Do you have to buy all those books, and experts, classes? NO. You should know a couple of things about quality and be willing to put a little time into quality.
I want to tell you of a study that took place in the very early 1900s. Scientists were trying to find out the best environment for factory production. They called all the workers together and explained what they were doing and why. Then they started playing with the environment in the building. They made the lights brighter for a while, and then dimmer for a time. Then they made the factory colder, then warmer. As they went through all these steps and more, the scientists explained to the workers what they were doing next and why.
Every time the scientists changed something the production output kept going up. It took a little time, and then the scientists began to understand what was happening. Production kept going up because the scientists kept meeting with the production crew and talking with them. Thus the first rule of communication:
Good quality requires good communication. And, to have good communications, there must be trust. So, remember the notebook and writing implement I mentioned in the preface of the book? If you have not started yet, it is time to make some notes, we are about to get hands on because this is important.
Time to make a Quality Tree. The main Trunk of the tree needs to be trust.
Without a full trust of everyone involved, good information will be shared and bad information will be hidden. Without trust fingers point, blame grows, hidden factories and lower quality quickly become the norm.
So start to draw your tree.
The largest of the branches is communication. Communication keeps everyone in the loop. Quality communications ensure no surprises either up or down the line.
Accountability – Accountability is not finger pointing or punishment when things go wrong. Accountability is and needs to stay positive and rewarding as virtue is bestowed upon all who are part of an organization. With accountability comes pride in a job well done, a feeling of accomplishment, and a sense of being part of something important.
Too many companies treat their people as throw away items. Making outrageous time demands, threatening, and not properly training or motivating their workers. These are the companies that do not have a structure of Accountability; and quite often do not have a history of quality because of a breakdown in Trust and accountability.
To help communications flow smoother, there is a flow to follow. First, listen and then speak. Too often management and supervisors come into a problem, talk a little, shout a little, pass around a few threats, along with an insult or two and then consider the possibility of maybe listening to someone. The problem is by the time they are done, no one wants to talk to them anymore, and the only question is, “Who does this person think they are?”
Keep in mind the rule of thumb. Two ears and one mouth means listen two thirds and talk one third. To talk more usually means talking out of both sides of your mouth.
Measurement – Knowing what is good and bad about the product and how long it takes to make the product is very important. Hiding or camouflaging any problems or longer assembly times causes hidden factories. Hidden factories become very expensive and very costly.
When I was a process engineer, I had several people come and tell me about a recurring problem on an assembly line. Knowing how errors get blown out of Proportion, I checked the Shop Floor Data Collector to see what it would tell me. I only saw one error, not several. I did notice the line was running slower than it should, and was behind on the total number of units built.
I went out to the floor to investigate and see for myself. When I got to the Quality Control Inspection Station, I found the answer. The Quality Technician was trying to help the line. Any of the various types of errors she found were only scanned once for that day. She set all of the units with errors to the side and fixed them herself so the build line would look better on paper.
I appreciate anyone who wants to help a line do better. However, this action did not help. Engineers hear all types of stories, both good and bad most of the time. To make sure they see the right good and bad points, engineers rely on data. If the data is wrong or being manipulated it works against the workers and not for them. Anytime an engineer sees a problem as shown in the data, that engineer is working on a root cause analysis and a permanent fix to the process.
The person who caused the problem was working with a sense of fear for her fellow workers because the factory was undergoing layoffs. It is important to remove fear by replacing it with accountability, trust, and communications. She let her fears, flamed by rumors cause a set of quality failures on the line because she had no one she trusted to tell there was a problem and ask for help in getting it fixed.
Maybe the real trick is to take out the fear?
Thank you for being with me during this Throwback Thursday. I hope you liked it. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.