Donald J. Wheeler’s picture

By Donald J. Wheeler

I recently received a data set consisting of the number of major hurricanes in the North Atlantic from 1940 to 2007. (Major hurricanes are those that reach Category 3 status or higher at some point during their existence.)

The first step in analyzing any data set is to look at the data. This means plotting the data in some meaningful format. With data that form a time series, the simplest and best format will be the running record where the data are plotted in time order. The running record for the number of major hurricanes is shown in figure 1.

The first question of data analysis must always be whether the data are homogeneous. If the data are, then we can use them with the various computations commonly taught in statistics classes. However, if the data aren’t homogeneous, then the question becomes, “Why or when did the changes occur?”

H. James Harrington’s picture

By H. James Harrington

I believe that most manufacturers have mistakenly focused on initial quality and reducing cost and cycle time during the production and delivery cycle. This has come at the expense of reliability.

Customers buy for the following reasons, listed by top priority:
Features
Cost
Availability
Quality

Customers come back based on:
Reliability
Function
Cost
Availability

A customer puts quality last when making a purchase because quality is generally good no matter who the supplier is. In the same plant, the same people make Toyota and General Motors cars. Quality isn’t the problem; yes, there are “lemons” out there, but the top half-dozen name brands do a good job of producing initial quality. Why, then, have Ford and GM given way to Toyota as the No. 1 producer? Because Toyota is the best at producing reliability.

Let me give you some examples. The Toyota Yaris hatchback has 81-percent fewer problems during the first five years of ownership than the average car, while the Pontiac Solstice has 234-percent more problems than the average car.

Tom Pyzdek’s picture

By Tom Pyzdek

We’ve heard it before: “______ won’t be around long. It’s the flavor of the month.” Fill in the blank with the latest management fad: zero defects, quality circles, SPC, TQM, systems thinking, balanced scorecards, reengineering, and most recently, Six Sigma and lean. What exactly is meant by tagging something the flavor of the month (FOM)? Should practitioners even care when their special initiative is the target of this unwelcome label?

Originally, of course, the FOM was a marketing promotion for Baskin-Robbins. It still is. December’s FOM was, appropriately, Egg Nog. But who really cares what last month’s FOM was? It’s yesterday’s news. This is one of the defining properties of the label. It’s here today, gone tomorrow. Lots of hype, enthusiasm, and fanfare. Then… nothing.

Thomas Pyzdek’s default image

By Thomas Pyzdek

There is much confusion about the constructs of quality and customer satisfaction (Q/CS). “Quality is doing the right things right,” say some experts, but how can we be assured that a service provider is doing the right things? Here’s an example: “I recognize that the opera singer has a tremendous vocal range [high quality], but I hate opera [dissatisfaction].” In other words, if service providers are interested in quality as a means of achieving customer satisfaction, the cognitive model of quality is inadequate. In essence, a service provider can achieve quality by doing things right whether the things that they do are right or wrong in terms of customer satisfaction. Although it’s true that the cognitive formulation of Q/CS may result in orthogonal (or at least different) constructs that are easier for researchers to work with, the value of quality so defined appears suspect.

An alternative way of defining the Q/CS constructs would be to ask the consumer to make the following judgments:

1. Did the provider do what you wanted it to do?

2. When the provider did what you wanted, did it do it well?

3. How do you feel about the value you received from the service?

Denise Robitaille’s picture

By Denise Robitaille

As some of you know, quality “speak” and concepts have been known to bleed into my everyday life. This is not uncommon for quality professionals. The only difference between some of us and the rest of you is that many of you are still in denial. You won’t admit to the occasional slip of the quality tongue (e.g., “I need to see the objective evidence that you’ve done your homework.”)

Several years ago, a colleague from Central America asked if I had any good examples of the difference between verification and validation. This particular question has plagued many organizations for quite some time. How can something possibly be verified as meeting specification and still not be what the customer wants? It seems illogical, and yet the truth is that it can and does occur.

I told my friend that I did indeed have a good example and proceeded to tell him this true story:

I was helping my mother with some crafts for her church bazaar. My mother would crochet fancy attachments resembling a stylized pinafore that she would affix to kitchen towels. This not only made them very pretty, but served the practical function of creating a loop for hanging the towel.

Mike Richman’s picture

By Mike Richman

Well, well, well… 2009 is upon us. That sure happened fast. What happened to 2008? For that matter, what happened to 2007, or 1995, or 1978? It’s true what those Nationwide Insurance ads say: “Life comes at you fast.” (See how well advertising works?)

Not very many of us are mourning the end of 2008. It was a tough 12 months: numerous food and product safety recalls, soaring (then falling) oil prices, a long and bruising U.S. presidential campaign, and a mortgage market meltdown that helped usher in the worst financial collapse in several generations. Huge government bailouts of the financial sector and the auto manufacturers might help stem the tide--or might not. President Obama, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

For professionals in the U.S. manufacturing industry, the recession comes as the vicious right cross following the stiff left jab of outsourcing and offshoring. This is the nature of capitalism, however; inefficiencies in markets are exploited, often with unsettling consequences, and then conditions stabilize. On a macro level, in the due course of time, the economy will be just fine.

Scott M. Paton’s default image

By Scott M. Paton

Scott M. Paton

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” So begins A Tale of Two Cities , Charles Dickens’ epic novel. Dickens’ words are just as apropos to today’s uncertain times as they were during the French Revolution, when the novel is set.

Although we’re not in the midst of a bloody civil war, these are the worst of times. We are waging a new and unknown kind of war against an unseen enemy. Gasoline prices are skyrocketing. The Big Three are once again faltering (Will they ever learn?) The airlines are in trouble, too. (See the note about the Big Three.) We’ve just been through a historic (and exhausting) presidential primary race. We’re hemorrhaging jobs to foreign markets. The dollar is at its lowest level in decades. The dotcom bubble of the 1990s looks minor in comparison to the housing bubble of today.

H. James Harrington’s picture

By H. James Harrington

The most important requirement for actuating the improvement process of your management system is to have your full management team participating before the nonmanagement employees become involved in the process. Management must be totally dedicated and actively participating in the improvement process before and after it is presented to the employees. If the process is to work, management must set the standards.

Managers get work done through other people. Their success should not be measured by what they do but by what they can inspire others to do. Managers who treat employees as they are will keep them as they are; but managers who treat them as they could be will cause them to grow and become more than they would have been. As managers, we need to let employees know that we believe they can do better. We must expect them to do better and help them set goals that stretch and exercise their abilities.

Jack E. West’s picture

By Jack E. West

Does ISO 9001 require controlled processes for improvement? By now, I think most users would agree that it does. The requirements for that controlled process are simple to describe. They start with planning.

To meet the minimal requirements of ISO 9001, an organization must have thought through, planned, and implemented its processes for improvement. However, ISO 9001, even when we refer to the definition of “continual improvement” in ISO 9000, doesn’t provide us with a complete understanding of the concept. ISO 9000--”Quality management systems--Fundamentals and vocabulary” defines continual improvement as:

“Continual improvement--recurring activity to increase the ability to fulfill requirements.

“NOTE: The process of establishing objectives and finding opportunities for improvement is a continual process through the use of audit findings and audit conclusions, analysis of data, management reviews (3.8.7) or other means and generally leads to corrective action or preventive action.”
(Source: ANSI/ISO/ASQ Q9000-2005)

John E. (Jack) West ’s default image

By John E. (Jack) West

Without a doubt, the most significant issues about implementing the control requirements in section 7 of ISO 9001 have been related to subclause 7.3 on design and development.

During the early days of ISO 9001:2000 implementation, many organizations had been certified to ISO 9002:1994, a standard that, unlike ISO 9001:1994 and ISO 9001:2000, didn’t include the design control requirements. Many organizations had opted to use ISO 9002:1994 because their design and development departments didn’t want to implement the required design controls. Yet most would admit that the majority of product-related problems had root causes either in the design process itself or in the design-to-manufacturing or service-delivery process. ISO 9001:2000 offered such organizations the opportunity to “exclude” design and development only if the requirement “… cannot be applied due to the nature of an organization and its product…,” as might be the case for a machine shop that only machines parts to other companies’ drawings. Many organizations found themselves having to meet design and development control requirements that they’d never really considered before, as specified in ISO 9001 subclause 7.3.1--”Design and development planning--The organization shall plan and control the design and development of the product.”