Quality Digest  |  03/31/2009


Better Than 5 Whys

I liked the way Craig Cochran discounted or lessened the credibility of the 5 Whys (“Don’t Fail Your Customers With the 5 Whys,” February 2009). He provided excellent rationale for its limitations. His alternatives were good; however, I do not believe they can replace Ishikawa’s use of the fishbone technique. While with IBM, I had a class in defect prevention using the fishbone technique followed by action teams to remedy candidate causes with a resolution to each of the viable candidate causes.

-- Ed Gardner


Well There’s Your Problem… Again

I would like to comment on Nick Van Weerdenburg’s statement that “eighty percent of all quality issues are repeat issues” (“Can We Improve Continuous Improvement?” February 2009). Although I do agree with this statement, it has been my experience that the real reason for this phenomena is not that lessons learned weren’t recalled or not communicated, but that the issue wasn’t really “fixed” in the first place. If the true root cause of a problem is determined, then one of two primary activities should occur if we are to eliminate the problem. First, there should be a mistake-proof device added to the process to prevent a recurrence, and second, there must be a design change to prevent it from ever happening again.

-- Bob Sproull


It’s All His Fault

Excellent article-for once I don’t feel like the lone voice in the wilderness (“I’m Sorry--the Recession Is My Fault, Part 2,” Mike Micklewright, www.qualitydigest.com/inside/quality-insider-column/i-m-sorry-recession-my-fault-part-2.html ). Usually I get referred to as the zealot or the perfectionist with just the slightest tinge of sarcasm, all for just embracing W. Edwards Deming’s ideals for the past 15 years.

-- John Dewar


Thank you for publicizing this perspective. Yes, management for the short term is a fundamental problem in Western enterprise. To supplement your search for constructive action to take in the face of our dilemmas, may I suggest a seminal work, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins (Back Bay Books, 2008). It does two things that you may find interesting. It points out the major missing piece of our financial metrics--that is, the value of the natural resources we use. There is a high correlation between your concerns and those who focus on operating sustainably.

-- Keith Barton


I find it depressing that so few people in any industry have heard of Dr. Deming, much less his principles. Root cause analysis is critical to truly fixing any problem, but there is so little interest in doing this.

-- J. Murray Tarter


Count Me In

“The Politics of Statistics” was an interesting article (Peter Sherman, www.qualitydigest.com/inside/quality-insider-article/politics-statistics.html ). I am in favor of changes that reduce the cost and size of government. Statistical models are already used to estimate the population size in the years in between the censuses. However, this is not possible for the actual census without an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution clearly mandates that the census shall be an actual count. As for who should take over the Census Bureau--leave it to the Department of Commerce. The Obama Administration is a party-driven entity, and just like all political entities, it will influence the results to its own benefit.

-- Gabriel Robb


His Favorite Things

Regarding Bill Kalmar’s “A Few of My Favorite Things” (www.qualitydigest.com/inside/quality-insider-column/few-my-favorite-quality-things.html ), although it has been years since I’ve made it back to Minneapolis, the steak house for which I yearn is Manny’s at the downtown Hyatt--pick your steak and prepare to drool. As for a major league baseball park, my favorite continues to be Fenway Park in Boston. You feel the life of the stadium when you walk through the gates, particularly with the first glimpse of the Green Monster in left field. Finally, being a bona fide roller coaster aficionado, my choice for amusement park is Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. My heart rate increases just thinking about those coasters.

-- Steve Wilson


Nothing Lean About Outsourcing

Are you sure that the term “lean” is appropriate for an article about outsourcing? (“Economy Drives Manufacturers To Go Lean; Outsource More Noncore Functions,” www.qualitydigest.com/inside/quality-insider-news/economy-drives-manufacturers-go-lean-outsource-more-noncore-functions.ht  ). I’m not certain that one of the tenets of “lean” is outsourcing. Lean is the relentless pursuit of identification and elimination of waste. Outsourcing may have the opposite effect or not address the real issues associated with waste.

-- David McGan


Outsourcing is the cause of many of the problems in my manufacturing facility (such as the vendor who is the outsourced supplier for our safety equipment, which doesn’t fit) and you want to recommend it for maintenance. That’s an interesting way to create even more problems for U.S. manufacturing.

-- Rhonda Goss


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