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Six Sigma and Management

Excellent article ("Top Ten Stupid Six Sigma Tricks," Steven Ouellette, http://qualitydigest.com/iqedit/qdarticle_text .lasso?articleid=12068). Daily management of general continuous process improvement has been a pet peeve of mine for several years, ever since I was first certified as a master total quality management (TQM) facilitator in 1990.

Management tends to concentrate on the big Six Sigma projects and ignore the daily/weekly incremental improvements that can be made by a group—probably because the latter has no "big bucks" to report to upper management.

Upper-executive stakeholders want to see "measurable" bottom-line effects. Small incremental changes aren't recognized by upper executives as being significant.

—James Dent


This article reminded me of a parable I read several years ago about the misapplication of data and control charts in assessing a team's performance. As I read further I was struck with the absolute relevance to our own situation. We began implementing TQM more than 15 years ago and have only recently phased in Six Sigma to supplement the improvement process. We have often defended our position of not abandoning TQM while implementing DMAIC methods, and this is the first meaningful article I have seen that clearly explains why that was a good decision. Reading further, I discovered the golden nugget—the author's mentor was our TQM mentor for more than 10 years. The reference to Jeffery Luftig provided more confirmation of our approach than if he himself had designed an experiment to confirm it.

—Jay Williamson


Monitoring With Control Charts

With respect to the article "Chart My Gauge!" by Steve A. Wise (http://qualitydigest.com/iqedit/qdarticle_text .lasso?articleid=12069), the author is absolutely correct about using a control chart to monitor the performance of measurement processes. I've been a proponent of this since 1986, yet those who write standards (the Automotive Industry Action Group, for instance) still propose using gauge repeatability and reproducibility (GR&R) methods. GR&R is fine for getting an answer quickly on whether a measurement system is capable for the measurement intended, but, like any study, it has a beginning and an end. The GR&R results so generated are not valid forever. It takes longer to get an answer to the capability question using the control-chart method, but it continues to give performance feedback day after day. If something suddenly changes later, the control chart will detect it. Try getting that information from a GR&R!

—Jim Parnella


Hopeulikit Lessons

Regarding the article "Quality Lessons from Hopeulikit" (Craig Cochran, http://qualitydigest.com/iqedit/qdarticle_text .lasso?articleid=12063), auditors should not offer their opinions about how to change processes. In this case, the auditor loses the independence for auditing that particular area. I am the lead assessor in my company and one of the things I learned in the training about ISO 9001:2000 is that this standard de-emphasizes documentation. Its emphasis is on processes and how to control and improve them.

—Samuel Rosa


Blogging Realities

Regarding the April 2007 News Digest story "Have Opinion, Will Blog" (Laura Smith), I get the author's point regarding the value of blogs with respect to sharing "thoughts and opinions, quickly and on the cheap." However, I strongly object to the idea that blogs are a "perfect system for getting and receiving news…." Blogs are a massive source of misinformation that tends to get treated as truth and gospel news. I'm happy to support the quest to solicit thoughts and opinions, but I think that using blogs as a news source is a serious mistake.

—Wayne Stone



"The Death of Civility" (Scott M. Paton, "Quality Curmudgeon," May 2007) speaks volumes about the state of our society today. It also reminds me I'm not alone in my thinking regarding communication via e-mail.

I'm not sure that "rudeness," as the author suggests, is the reason for the shoddy e-mail and other forms of communication that has been the trend for some time now. Laziness is probably the bigger culprit. Many of us are simply looking for the easy way out when we communicate electronically—no punctuation, no spell check, etc. If one is not "hip" (i.e., uses the abbreviations and so on) to the "new form of communication" or the "new language," so to speak, then one is simply out of touch.

At the end of the day, it is what it is. Many of us don't even want to take the time to "think."



Scott's article is so true. Look at what our society has become in today's world. How unfortunate. For myself, I always treat my customers, whether they are internal or external, with the utmost respect.

As for e-mail, it has become a good tool in getting information quickly but I do agree that there are times when we lose sight of our writing ethics and etiquette. Too many of us are in hurry; we all need to slow down and smell the roses. I have.

—Irene Yale