Bill Kalmar’s picture

By: Bill Kalmar

Ritz-Carlton employees are passionate, disciplined, and fanatical about their jobs. Over the years, much has been written about the extraordinary customer service you can expect to receive from these bastions of performance excellence. Employees are always seeking to deliver spectacular service, while looking for ways to make the guest experience memorable. Hotel employees operate on the premise that nothing is impossible to satisfy the wants, needs, and expectations of guests. When approached by a guest it’s almost as if the employee automatically says, “Yes”, before a question is even raised by the guest.

What makes the experience so genuine at a Ritz-Carlton is that the employees foster the same courteous attitude even when they are not working. The work ethic that separates Ritz-Carlton service from other hotels is embedded in employees and it carries over into their private lives. There is no onstage or offstage personalities. The staff is always “on.” And their focus on service does not end when they leave the confines of the hotel.

Forrest Breyfogle—New Paradigms’s picture

By: Forrest Breyfogle—New Paradigms

A previous article of mine in this newsletter, “NOT Transforming the Data Can Be Fatal to Your Analysis,” addressed the need for appropriate transformations and a predictive performance measurement system.

The statistical business performance charting (SBPC) methodology that was described in the article can, for example, reduce firefighting when the performance measurement system replaces organizational red-yellow-green scorecards, which often have no structured plan for making goal-setting improvement objectives.

This article describes how organizations can benefit from a SBPC scorecard or dashboard system, which can guide them to the most appropriate performance measurement system actions or nonactions in manufacturing and transactional processes.

Steven Ouellette’s picture

By: Steven Ouellette

If you have been following my articles over the last few months, you have seen that even though statistical process control (SPC) charts are very powerful tools for examining a process, it turns out that there are a lot of ways to mess up SPC. This month, I am going to finish up with a few more things to watch out for as you use them, so you never have to ask, “Why doesn’t SPC work here?”

What shape are you in?

No, I am not interested in if you are working out. The basis for using control charts to help you make economical decisions comes from assumptions about the type and shape of the distribution you are dealing with. If a process is out of control, it is by definition not coming from a single distribution, so the distributional assumptions cannot be met. This does NOT mean that the control chart is useless—in fact, you use those distributional assumptions to help you identify what was unexpected so that you can spend time investigating those particular events that were unusual to the underlying process and to identify, and then eliminate, what caused them.

John Stiller’s picture

By: John Stiller

 Story update 9/23/09: Reference to 9.5.2.f was changed to 8.5.2.f in second paragraph.

As more suppliers are required by their regulators and customers to achieve ISO 9001 certification, and because certification symbolizes a point of competitive differentiation in a tight economy, emphasis on meeting the standards is only increasing. Now that continuous improvement has come to be expected, documenting its effectiveness is an increasing challenge because continuous improvement cannot be achieved without the ability to effectively prevent recurrence of quality escapes.

While the ISO standards have long called for a corrective action program (section 8.5.2), the new ISO 9001:2008 standard requires corrective action program effectiveness (section 8.5.2.f). Many organizations struggle to identify and implement a corrective action methodology, and are now straining even more to define, measure, and achieve effectiveness as required by the standard.

Many companies that lead the field in corrective action effectiveness are integrating root cause analysis into their ISO 9001 compliance efforts. Following are best practices and real-life examples gleaned from leading companies.

Matthew J. Savage’s picture

By: Matthew J. Savage

As companies downsize, they cut down on the number of employees, or move, or close, and thousands find themselves without jobs in a highly competitive job market that they never anticipated. A 55-year-old former NCR systems engineer is in line for jobs along with whiz-bang new college graduates, as well as other laid-off former engineers. In some areas, such as northeastern Vermont, unemployment is more than 22 percent.

Any edge, however small, that a candidate has over other applicants is critical—and a record of lifelong learning in one’s profession may provide that edge. Quality professionals and others are finding that professional development while on the job is essential to their continuous growth, and may indeed help them find another job if they are laid off, or make the difference when a company is deciding which positions to cut. Those who are unable to find work are returning to the classroom to enhance their professional skills.

Stewart Anderson’s picture

By: Stewart Anderson

Is the theory of constraints compatible with lean thinking and can the two approaches be used together? This article looks at some of the similarities and differences between the two approaches and suggests how they might be coupled to advantage.

The book, Lean Lexicon: A Graphical Glossary for Lean Thinkers (Lean Enterprise Institute, 2003) defines lean production as: “A business system for organizing and managing product development, operations, suppliers, and customer relations that requires less human effort, less space, less capital, and less time to make products with fewer defects to precise customer desires, compared with the previous system of mass production.”

As the Lean Lexicon states, lean production was pioneered by Toyota after World War II and typically required half the human effort, half the manufacturing space and capital investment for a given amount of capacity, and a fraction of the development and lead time of mass production systems—while making products in wider variety at lower volumes with many fewer defects. The term “lean” was coined by John Krafcik, a research assistant at MIT with the International Motor Vehicle Program in the late 1980s.

Forrest Breyfogle—New Paradigms’s picture

By: Forrest Breyfogle—New Paradigms

Not surprisingly, there was controversy over Forrest Breyfogle's article, "Non-normal Data: To Transform or Not to Transform," written in response to Donald Wheeler’s article "Do You Have Leptokurtophobia?" Wheeler continued the debate with "Transforming the Data Can Be Fatal to Your Analysis." This article is Breyfogle’s response to Wheeler’s latest column.


Donald Wheeler stated in his second article "Transforming the Data Can Be Fatal to Your Analysis," "out of respect for those who are interested in learning how to better analyze data, I feel the need to further explain why the transformation of data can be fatal to your analysis."

Bill Kalmar’s picture

By: Bill Kalmar

Quality professionals pride themselves in being efficient and are always searching for ways to improve their approach to improving processes. One of the methods for doing so is to have modern, up to date communication systems. Most people in the profession probably have the customary Blackberry and even the latest iPhone. I like to think that I'm a technology geek myself, but sometimes communication processes change so rapidly that it's difficult to stay current.

Just the other day our son, Bill Jr., sent me a text message from his iPhone directing me to open up an e-mail on our computer. Upon doing so, we discovered a video from their vacation that had been filmed moments before he sent the text message. To someone my age it was mind-boggling. Bill Jr. had filmed their vacation antics with his iPhone and then text messaged me about it. He then forwarded it to our laptop. I’m just happy to have a cell phone where I can talk to others—all the other accessories are just confusing to me.

The Un-Comfort Zone With Robert Wilson’s picture

By: The Un-Comfort Zone With Robert Wilson

“Writing is not a job; it’s a hobby!” thundered my father when I told him my plans for college. “You need to get a profession: Medicine, law, engineering, or accounting.” 

I cheerlessly acquiesced and enrolled in a pre-med program, but at the end of my first year, after struggling through chemistry, I changed my major to philosophy. When I told Dad, he grunted, “That and a dime will get you a cup of coffee.” He passed away shortly after that, but his words echoed in the back of my mind for years.

After graduation, I searched for a job in writing. At the same time, I wrote short stories like crazy, and sent them off to dozens of magazines. Years passed, and I failed to find a job in writing, so I supported myself by waiting tables and bartending. Meanwhile, rejection letters from the magazines began piling up, and I was beginning to get discouraged. 

Then one day, I met a friend for a beer in a bar near the campus of my alma mater. When I visited the restroom, some graffiti written on the wall with an arrow pointing to the toilet paper dispenser caught my eye. It read: “Bachelor of Arts Degrees—take only one, please!” Rather than laugh, I grimaced and thought, “Boy, does that sound like my Dad.”

Mike Micklewright’s picture

By: Mike Micklewright

It’s pretty obvious that in so many companies, based on their actions and behaviors, CEOs and other top managers just don’t get ISO 9001 and all the derivative standards. The following 10 signs are written in no particular order. You’ll need to be the judge as to which ones are most prevalent within your own organization. How many can you relate to?

After reading this article, you may also wish to forward it to someone who should probably read this, like maybe… oh, I don’t know… your CEO… or ummmm… some other top executive? Directions for how to do so without getting into trouble are at the end of this article.

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