Six Sigma and beyond
I read Tom Pyzdek's column "Why Six Sigma Is Not TQM" in the February 2001 issue today. I
agree that TQM and Six Sigma are not exactly the same.
One difference he mentions is that, with Six Sigma, people outside the quality department are involved using the tools
from the quality toolbox to improve the business. However, while the idea of people outside the quality department doing "quality" activities is an important concept, it isn't new. In fact, that
very idea has been the focus of numerous articles suggesting that the role of the quality professional would one day become that of training and coaching other people within the organization to
use (as in apply) the tools that we all know can add value. Some have gone so far as to predict that quality professionals would work themselves out of existence.
is that this future has been predicted and advocated for some time without it actually coming to pass, except on a limited basis at a small number of companies. And herein lies the crux of the
matter. Those companies that have been successful with Six Sigma (or TQM for that matter) are those in which top management decided that this was the course to steer. And what I see happening
again is that because the media has touted the success of "Six Sigma" where it has worked, other management teams think they can buy it and install it and it'll make their company better without
requiring their participation. In other words, too many executives are still looking for the quick fix.
As I'm sure Pyzdek knows, that type of management doesn't work, Six
Sigma, TQM or any other process notwithstanding.
A quality manager's guide to the Internet
One addition I would suggest for people looking to optimize their Internet connections is that they look into cable-modem and T1
lines as well as DSL and 56K modems.
I realize there are a lot of Web sites out there, but I think The Association for Quality
and Participation's site, www.aqp.org , has excellent information to offer.
President, Rock Valley Chapter AQP
H. James Harrington's December 2000 column was of interest to
me. I have spent my entire career in the military, government and large public corporations. The typical lament is that "quality" isn't improving; it is, but slowly. Much of this inertia stems
from the fact that political parties dominate so much of government at the top levels, and they respond to various well-funded interest groups that keep them in power. Their priorities are often
misplaced and distorted. A good example is that more money was spent on investigating, prosecuting and impeaching the president for a marital cover-up than on the investigation of security
problems at the World Trade Center or the fuel tank malfunction resulting in the crash of a TWA flight near Long Island.
The other difficulty is that the Constitution was
purposely set up to create the problems Harrington refers to. The founders weren't interested in creating a flowchart of simplicity and action and quality indicators; they were interested in
promoting inaction. They wanted representation of state and local interests to be co-equal and not subordinated to the federal interest. To them and many U.S. citizens, the "Secretary of
Governmental Quality" is another volume of regulations in the Federal Register that usurps their power.
A good start at reform could be the elimination of the electoral
college, which is a known-to-be mischievous system (as was sorely demonstrated in the November 2000 election) that should have been abolished many years ago but still persists. Yet each time
termination of this unrepresentative entity of party hacks comes up, various party interests defeat the matter by treating it as ephemeral, and concentrate on other diversionary measures.
The electorate is inherently conservative and does not want marked change, and I believe that it thinks "quality" is an ephemeral buzz word in most circumstances. Only when the
electorate is directly affected, such as when water or food is contaminated or lives are truly threatened, does it appreciate "quality."
--Christopher Hahin, PE