Larry P. English’s default image

By: Larry P. English

Déja vu
After the 2006 primary elections in the United States, a local newspaper article headline read, “Computer ballots in stage of ‘trial and error.’” Although elections are critical in a democratic society, electronic voting that isn’t transparent has been introduced with a trial-and-error approach instead of a proven process improvement approach.

After the 2000 U.S. presidential election, the “Help America Vote Act” (HAVA) election reform was intended to improve the election processes. Its requirements to replace older voting technologies with information-age electronic voting machines have introduced negative side effects and increased known problems.

Craig Cochran’s picture

By: Craig Cochran

Last year I had the good fortune of doing some consulting with B&C Specialty Products in Hopeulikit, Georgia. B&C does light manufacturing, primarily plastic molding and assembly, and they also distribute imported products produced by companies in the Far East. They have about 150 employees and are the biggest employer by far in Hopeulikit. B&C was a perfect place to learn about managing and quality. Every day presented a new lesson. Usually the lessons were hard-learned, and those are the ones that really stick with you. B&C was gracious enough to allow me to interview their personnel about things that came up during my time there. Here is one of those lessons: Don’t let personnel problems fester. The scenario is described by the people who actually lived it.

Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

Following last month’s excellent article "Management and the Bhagavad-Gita" by M. P. Bhattathiri, Quality Digest got several requests for an article discussing how the Christian bible might also be used in an organizational context. In the following, Quality Digest editor in chief, Dirk Dusharme, applies the writings of the apostle Paul to a very common organizational issue.

It’s not difficult, or mysterious really, to apply any great writing to an organization. In most cases, all it takes is a little understanding of the context in which the writer was living and looking for the similarities in today’s world. Last month, M. P. Bhattathiri gave a description of how some of the wisdom of the Bhagavad-Gita could be applied in a management context.

In this article, I’ll take a broad look at how all employees can gain from the apostle Paul’s no-nonsense approach to organizational issues. As my source, I’ll use one of Paul’s most famous passages from the New Testament book of 1 Corinthians.

Bill Kalmar’s picture

By: Bill Kalmar

As the cool, crisp air of autumn begins to make its annual appearance here in the Midwest, and the trees on country roads are aflame with color, it’s time to make some wardrobe decisions. Should I select the fur-lined parka over the Gore-Tex windbreaker? Are the Eddie Bauer boots warmer than the L.L. Bean mukluks? And which hat provides the best cover for my receding hairline? Although the goal is to keep warm, how will I look to my friends?Similar questions and choices surface when organizations begin their journey to quality and performance excellence. Which process will insulate us from error? Which process will reduce red tape? Which process will have a good effect on the bottom line? Which process will help us exceed the expectations of our customers?

Depending on the industry and organizational intent, quality practitioners must choose from myriad processes such as, AS9100, BS7799, EN46000, EN9100, FS9100, ISO 14000, ISO 9001, ISO/TS16949, JIS Q 9100, Baldrige criteria, Six Sigma, the joint commission on accreditation of health care organizations (JCAHO), Q9000, QS-9000, kaizen, lean manufacturing, Q9858A, MIL STD 45662A, the U.S.A. Quality Cup, MIL STD 105E, TL9000, Juran’s, Deming’s, and the various state quality awards.

Brian Copeland’s default image

By: Brian Copeland

Every day, I hear from frustrated quality assurance (QA) managers who’ve been informed by project management that their six-week testing schedule has been reduced to two weeks or less. It usually involves some sob story about how the development team is a month late because of the customer’s last-minute changes (Isn’t it always someone else’s fault?). The testing team is expected to suck up the lost time and get their testing done in a fraction of the originally scheduled time.I typically ask them, “What have you done to prevent this from happening?” The manager usually explodes from sheer pressure and dumps a laundry list of reasons for the project’s poor condition—management committed to a date before the project even kicked off. There are problems with the requirements—either they’re nonexistent, vague, incomplete, or not well documented. There are problems with the involvement of the quality resources, such as being left out of key meetings. There are problems with the development team producing unit-tested code.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

In a repetitive manufacturing environment, Six Sigma’s quantification is much easier than in the engineer-to-order (ETO) manufacturing environment, where no two products are identical.

Six Sigma is a program that affects the entire company. What have been missing for ETO manufacturers are the central management tools to ensure the entire Six Sigma implementation is applied systematically. While Six Sigma affects external and internal users, centralized communication is critical to the program’s success, particularly when there's a strong need for interaction between engineering and manufacturing.

According to Stephen Carson, executive vice president for Visibility Corp., “Many project-based manufacturers provide contract engineering and manufacturing services related to the production of components and assemblies with multiple domestic and off-shore locations. These companies must have a consistent track record of growth by concentrating and effectively competing on quality, timeliness and price. They require a state-of-the-art process and quality control system that provide both the flexibility and consistency to deliver the highest quality manufacturing services and cost effective product delivery.”

Following are some key quality ETO challenges:

Craig Cochran’s picture

By: Craig Cochran

Last year I had the good fortune of doing some consulting with B&C Specialty Products in Hopeulikit, Georgia. B&C does light manufacturing, primarily plastic molding and assembly, and they also distribute imported products produced by companies in the Far East. They have about 150 employees and are the biggest employer by far in Hopeulikit.
B&C was a perfect place to learn about managing and quality. Every day presented a new lesson. Usually the lessons were hard-learned, but those are the ones that really stick with you. B&C was gracious enough to allow me to interview their personnel about things that came up during my time there. Here is one of those lessons: Don’t let personnel problems fester. The scenario is described by the people who actually lived it.

Kimberly Kayler’s default image

By: Kimberly Kayler

As a major manufacturer and distributor of uncoated free-sheet papers, containerboard and corrugated containers, newsprint and market pulp, Boise Paper Solutions provides products that aid their customers in making their own products. That is why having to go offline for unscheduled lime kiln shut-downs at a cost of about $87,000 a year in lost production, makeup time and maintenance costs is disastrous.

Bill Kalmar’s picture

By: Bill Kalmar

Conversation at a business luncheon tends to be focused on work. The meal and service are secondary concerns. Still, clumsy service or a poorly prepared meal can ruin a productive business meeting, and a delightful meal and impeccable service can make such an experience enjoyable.
Recently, I had a luncheon meeting with a friend at a nationwide restaurant chain that prides itself on exemplary service.

I ordered first—a cup of soup and a small Greek salad. The waiter asked me if I wanted the soup and salad combo—a bowl of soup and a salad. I passed on the combo. My friend ordered the combo with a Caesar salad.

M. P. Bhattathiri’s default image

By: M. P. Bhattathiri

Editor’s note: The Bhagavad Gita is a guide for millions of people around the world, particularly in India. Quality Digest is interested in anything that can affect quality in business, and Bhattathiri’s use of the Bhagavad Gita is unique in our experience. See what he has to say and tell us what you think.

One of the greatest contributions of India to the world is the Bhagavad Gita, or Holy Gita—an ancient epic poem in Sanskrit whose title translates to “The Song of the Divine One” and is considered by many to be one of the first revelations from God.

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