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Scott M. Paton

Quality Hacks

Wanted: your tips, tools and techniques for quality improvement




One of my favorite Web sites is www.lifehacker.com. The site posts an ever-changing cornucopia of tips, tools and techniques for hacking (i.e., improving) your personal and business life. Lifehacker is updated constantly, and I usually check it a couple of times during the day. It's a great little break during the workday.

Lifehacker has all kinds of nifty tips, such as using e-mail more effectively, managing your time better, tweaking software to make it easier to use and more productive, and do-it-yourself projects that are fun and meaningful. I've discovered a lot of really useful information on the site that I use daily to make my job (and my life) a little easier.

For example, Lifehacker has featured some excellent tutorials on a very cool piece of software for Mac users called Quicksilver, which is a nifty application that eliminates the need to look for nearly any application, document, file, picture, address or just about anything else you commonly search for on your computer. (Sorry, Windows devotees, but there really isn't a Quicksilver equivalent for you yet. Launchy is close, but not quite as good.)

Lifehacker has also taught me how to use Google's nifty e-mail service, Gmail, much more efficiently; how to fix a dent in my car; how to make my own paper; and it's even taught me how to organize the mass of cables that run all over my desk. (OK, I actually haven't fixed the dents, made the paper or cleaned up the cables, but at least I know how.)

Recently, while checking out Lifehacker, I got to thinking that there really should be a place to share quality hacks—all those cool time-saving tips and techniques that quality professionals use in the course of their jobs to make their lives a little easier.

Don't get me wrong, my favorite magazine, Quality Digest , is an excellent forum for sharing news and information, but Dirk Dusharme and the rest of the editorial team can only squeeze so much content into each issue. Plus, Quality Digest is designed to give its readers more in-depth coverage of a wider breadth of topics.

There are roughly 100,000 quality professionals in North America. (I'm basing this on the membership of the American Society for Quality, so if you think that my numbers are way off, call the good folks in Milwaukee, not me.) I'm sure that more than a few of those 100,000 folks have come up with some pretty cool hacks that a lot of other people would really like to know about.

To help facilitate the sharing of quality hacks, I've just launched a new Web site called, aptly enough, QualityHacks ( www.qualityhacks.com), where you can post your quality hacks and check out other hacks that quality professionals have posted. It's a free site; I've just created it to give the quality community a forum to post hacks. Because it's free, it's pretty basic for now. If it proves to be popular, I'll upgrade it.

For the site to be useful, it has to contain information. This is where you come in. I invite (beg, plead, urge—you get the idea) you to post your quality hacks on the site. They don't have to be complicated or fancy. In fact, simpler is preferred. You don't even have to worry about spelling and grammar and such. We'll clean it up for you. We just want to give you an easy way to share your tips and techniques.

Here are some possible topics:

How have you modified the SPC software package you use to work better?

How have you set up your document control system?

How do you manage your gauge calibration scheduling?

How do you communicate quality issues to employees, customers and suppliers?

How do you motivate your internal auditors?

How do you recognize and reward team members?

How do you use everyday applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc., in your quality processes?

How did you select the last piece of measuring equipment that you bought?


If these sound like questions that you'd like to see the answers to, you're probably not alone. If they sound like questions that you'd like to answer, rest assured that there are a lot of people out there who would really like to know your opinion. Don't be shy! Your peers are in the same situation you are.

Plus, all these great hacks will make super fodder for articles for Quality Digest . Despite what you may think, Dirk and the other editors are constantly hunting for articles. Quality- Hacks may provide them with another good source of article ideas and (you guessed it) authors.

So, instead of closing this column with my usual nag to visit my blog at www.qualitycurmudgeon.com (which you're still welcome to do—please!), I'll instead ask you to check out www.qualityhacks.com. Read, post and grow!

About the author
Scott M. Paton is Quality Digest's editor at large.