Content By Matthew Barsalou

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By: Matthew Barsalou

Quality tools can serve many purposes in problem solving. They may be used to assist in decision making, selecting quality improvement projects, and in performing root cause analysis. They provide useful structure to brainstorming sessions, for communicating information, and for sharing ideas with a team. They also help with identifying the optimal option when more than one potential solution is available. Quality tools can also provide assistance in managing a problem-solving or quality improvement project.

Matthew Barsalou
By: Matthew Barsalou, Robert Perkin

As you drive east on I-70 coming from the Rockies, there is a point where you seem to have stopped descending, but a sign says, “Trucks: Don’t be fooled. Four more miles of steep grades and sharp curves.” The message is that it would be premature to relax at this point, and vigilant driving is still required to safely reach flat ground.

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By: Matthew Barsalou

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n part one of this two-part series, I described the need for empiricism in root cause analysis (RCA). Now, I’ll explain how to achieve empiricism when performing a RCA by combining the scientific method and graphical explorations of data.

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By: Matthew Barsalou

There are many reasons for performing a root cause analysis (RCA). These reasons include determining the cause of a failure in a product or a process as well for determining the root cause of the current level of performance when a product or process has been selected for improvement.

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By: Matthew Barsalou

Although not a quality guru, the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes took a methodical approach to problem solving that can be useful when applied to root cause analysis (RCA) during the investigation of a product or process failure.

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By: Matthew Barsalou

The start of a failure investigation may involve brainstorming, but empirical methods will be required to actually identify a problem's cause. Implementing an improvement action without a confirmed root cause risks a reoccurrence of the issue because the true root cause has yet to be addressed.

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By: Matthew Barsalou

I gave a rather successful talk on communicating design of experiments (DoE) at the recent ENBIS 14 conference in Linz, Austria. Things went mostly well, but it’s also fair to say many attendees had one major criticism: I didn’t explain why one factor at a time testing (OFAT) isn’t ideal. That oversight helped me realize how fortunate I am when it comes to lean Six Sigma. I no longer find myself having to explain what it is or why it can be beneficial.

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By: Matthew Barsalou

Matthew Barsalou’s picture

By: Matthew Barsalou

I know that the customer should be involved when performing a root cause analysis (RCA) as the result of a complaint. However, in a meeting, the manager of problem resolution and statistical methods told our team that we should view customer-related problem resolution as a “shared journey of discovery” together with the customer. That statement was a wake-up call.

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By: Matthew Barsalou

One seldom mentioned yet critical skill is the ability to bring well-presented information to management. I almost typed “data,” but that would probably be incorrect. Chances are you are not holding a presentation to show top management data; you are presenting data that has already been distilled into information.