Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – September 2013

Welcome to September 2013 edition of Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs.

We begin our current session by drawing upon seemingly unrelated fields.

The first is  Rick Bohan’s article –Volleyball, Chess and the Successful Lean Implementation, where we draw useful learning from the study of sports in so far as Lean and Quality are concerned. “People make use of patterns to evaluate and figure out how to respond to what they see. Make those patterns easy to discern, and they’ll do a better job of keeping processes in control.

First, it speaks to one of the primary foundations of lean, that is, the generation of easy-to-see, easy-to-learn, easy-to-respond-to patterns of work, material flow and information flow.

Second, it speaks to why there can be such strong resistance to even the simplest lean initiatives like 5S and visual factory.  Employees who have spent thousands of hours in their workplaces have formed strong patterns.  What might look like chaos to us, to them makes perfect sense.”

In another article, Standardisation and Climbing Ladders, James Lawther advocates “that without any rungs you have nothing to push against, so you won’t be able to climb any further.

Process Improvement is a lot like climbing a ladder.

But instead of having rungs to push against you have standards. If you don’t create and use operating standards then you have nothing to push against and so no way of moving forward.

Process improvement without standards is a bit like trying to swim up-hill…..futile.”

Michael Hess, MONEYWATCH, in the article Don’t let burning bridges fall on you, makes the point that “Every good businessperson knows the importance of building quality relationships. But I’m surprised at how often people don’t give the same thought to the “quality” with which those relationships end, and the possible ways in which a bad breakup can come back to haunt them.

Most business relationships don’t last forever; employees move on, customers come and go, suppliers are replaced. But what goes around does indeed come around, and paths can cross again, particularly within the same industry or in small communities.”

And here is the last of the present article from which quality professionals can learn a very useful lesson. McKinsey & Company insights, How to make a city great,  asserts that “Successful cities are built on smart growth, efficient government, and collaboration.

By 2030, 60 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities. That could mean great things for economic growth—if the cities handle their expansion wisely. Here’s how.

Mayors are only too aware that their tenure will be limited. But if longer-term plans are articulated—and gain popular support because of short-term successes—leaders can start a virtuous cycle that sustains and encourages a great urban environment.”

Quality and Customer are indeed two inseparable layers. In the present edition, we would take two articles, for two ‘new’ sources:

Jim Clemmer’s article Focus on Overall Customer Experience puts across the issue of customer service – “the operation was a success but the patient died” –  quite succinctly.

Customer CloudCustomer service improvements and measurements often focus on a narrow set of customer interactions or a few steps in the service process. What’s missing is understanding, and improving, the customer’s entire experience.

4 steps to improve the customer journey:

  1. Identify the journeys in which they need to excel
  2. Understand how they are currently performing in each
  3. Build cross-functional processes to redesign and support those journeys
  4. Institute cultural change and continuous improvement to sustain the initiatives at scale

The article concludes with this key point:

“Optimizing a single customer journey is tactical; shifting organizational processes, culture, and mind-sets to a journey orientation is strategic and transformational…engages the organization across functions and from top to bottom, generating excitement, innovation, and a focus on continuous improvement. It creates a culture that’s hard to build otherwise, and a true competitive advantage goes to companies that get it right.””
Jim Benson, @ Quality Digest article Understand Your Customers has put across a wide canvas of who constitute ‘customer’. He further states that “If you don’t know whom the work is for, you don’t know what you’re doing”
And then assuming that you do now ‘know’ your customer, he does suggest five quick actions we should take.

• Be clear about what the customer wants. Yes, this sounds obvious, but how many times have you had to rework something because of a simple initial lack of understanding?
• Be clear about what’s on your plate. No, sorry Ms. Customer, your request isn’t the only thing I must do right now. I wish it was, but life doesn’t work like that. Here’s what I can realistically do.
• Get the customer’s feedback early and often. How soon can you show the customer an interim product? How quickly can you compare expected and actual progress? Earlier feedback = earlier delivery.
• Understand minimum and optimal deliverables. Minimum and optimum deliverables give you a range of success to shoot for. If you’re always aiming for the high point, you will usually underdeliver.
• Work is a relationship. All work is a relationship between the person doing the work and the person receiving it. Communication (again as early as possible) helps both cement the relationship and ensure an appreciated delivery.

We always keenly look at the subject of Performance Management.

Bernard Marr, in the article, The 75 KPIs Every Manager Needs To Know, includes the metrics he considers the most important and informative, and they make a good starting point for the development of a performance management system.

“Before we look at the list I would like to express an important warning: Don’t just pick all 75 – You don’t need or indeed should have all 75 KPIs. Instead, by understanding these 75 KPIs you will be able to pick the vital few meaningful indicators that are relevant for your business.

Finally, the KPIs should then be used (and owned) by everyone in the business to inform decision-making (and not as mindless reporting references or as ‘carrot & stick tools’).”

We now take a look at current Roundup, which now presents a range of views by the ASQ Influential voices, in What’s the Value of Professional Training?

In our regular winding up session from ASQ™ TV: Creating a Global View of Quality,, we have two episodes:

ASQ TV Episode 7: Innovation and Quality

This episode focuses on innovation: what innovation is and the role it plays in quality. Also, learn about an organization in India that used an innovative management model to turn a failing business unit around. Discover how the innovation management cycle can jumpstart innovation at your organization, and take a self-assessment to see what your role is in the innovation process.

ASQ TV Episode 8: Lean

In this episode, learn why less is more! We cover all things lean: What it is and what makes lean projects work; how an emergency response centre used lean to increase efficiency; how to use value stream mapping, a key lean tool; and how you can use lean to better organize your home life. Read the Eurocross Assistance case study at Learn more about value stream maps in the Quality Progress article:–an-introduction.html. For more on lean and Six Sigma, visit

This month we visit Don Brecken @ ASQ’s Influential Voices

Don BreckenDon Brecken, an ASQ Fellow, writes The Quality Advisor blog. Don is management faculty and Southwest Michigan business program advisor for Ferris State University. Don is also a practicing business improvement auditor and consultant; his background includes quality leadership, continuous improvement, operations learning and development, management consulting, quality auditing, quality system implementation, and business improvement auditing.

The Quality Advisor blog is for sharing Brecken’s quality-related posts, which are intended to be of general interest to most readers. After all… “Quality affects us all; it spans all industries, pertains equally to product and service, and should therefore matter to everyone!”

A little more detailed search of the blog, throws up an interesting take on A Practical Approach to Business Improvement Auditing

Business improvement audits, in comparison to QMS Audits as per ISO 9001(:2008) , are bound only by the contractual agreement with the audit client.

An organization’s QMS should serve as a business improvement tool. Clause 8.5.1 of ISO 9001, Continual improvement, requires the organization to continually improve the effectiveness of its QMS through the use of its quality policy, quality objectives, audit results, analysis of data, corrective and preventive actions, and management review. Because the QMS requires these components be used for improvement, the business improvement auditor should assess whether each component is effectively leveraged to improve the organization. Most, if not all of the information the business improvement auditor will need for this assessment should be evident if the auditor knows where to look.

From the present edition, we would also take a detailed visit to the sites of some the leading national or international ‘quality’ organizations. Our such visit(s) may span more than one editions of our blog festival.

This month we will visit Quality Council of India. We begin our tour of QCI site from its Mission To help India achieve and sustain total quality and reliability, in all areas of life, work, environment, products and services, at individual, organisational, community and societal levels.

This has been brilliantly discussed by the then President of India Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, in his inaugural speech at the 2nd National Quality Conclave on February 9, 2007 at New Delhi:

“My definition of nation prosperity index is equal to GDP including quality of life for all coupled with value system. It is essential to ensure that all the citizens are empowered with good quality of life encompassing nutritious foods, good habitat, clean environment, affordable health care, quality education with value system and productive employment leading to the comprehensive qualitative development of the nation……..”

And we finally round up our present edition with –
Management Improvement Carnival #199
I look forward to your constructive inputs and suggestions…. To improve content and the style of this Blog Festival …