Training Article

Eric Weisbrod’s picture

By: Eric Weisbrod

For nearly a century, statistical process control (SPC) has been the cornerstone of quality management and process control. But traditional SPC can’t keep up as the pace of manufacturing accelerates. Twenty-first century manufacturing lines produce multiple products and create thousands of data points in any given minute. Operations, quality, and Six Sigma teams are buried in an avalanche of data that they can’t possibly interpret.

Many organizations find that their teams are consumed by continually monitoring control charts and updating spreadsheets. They don’t have time to try to understand what all that data really mean—or how they can use them to drive meaningful action for their companies.

Even real-time data fall short when they’re siloed in different databases and accessible in only one location. The result is missed opportunities and wasted time as teams search for the details they need to achieve manufacturing optimization across the enterprise.

So how do you monitor what’s happening on the plant floor while it’s happening, without becoming so buried in data that agile analysis and response become impossible? And how do you scale your solution across multiple lines, shifts, and sites?

Multiple Authors
By: M. Tina Dacin, Laura Rees

A small business has been given the green light to reopen amid the Covid-19 pandemic. What does it need to consider for employees and customers?

Small-business owners are reorganizing physical space to account for continued distancing requirements, and rethinking supply chains to deliver products and services in new ways to meet changing demand patterns. But they must not forget the hearts and minds of employees and customers.

That doesn’t mean replacing a focus on the bottom line, but it helps address the need for a new set of expectations and ways of communicating in terms of product or service offerings, delivery methods, and real-time feedback.

Based on our expertise in organizational behavior and past research we’ve conducted, we provide a set of recommendations to help small businesses thrive in our new Covid-19 economy by looking after the hearts and minds of the people most important to businesses: employees and customers.

Thomas Hellwig’s picture

By: Thomas Hellwig

The Covid-19 world is marked by a high degree of uncertainty and existential fear, a dearth of social interaction, the convergence of professional and personal space, a lack of physical activity, and an obsessive focus on hygiene and social distancing. For professionals, this amounts to a toxic combination that elevates stress levels and increases the risk of burnout. Virtually no one—and no organization—is immune.

Now more than ever, managers should become sensitive to the mental health of their teams, not to mention themselves. But few managers have formal training in this arena, which means their ability to directly intervene in the most severe cases is limited. What managers need first and foremost is a set of tools to help identify when an employee is seriously struggling. They can then take appropriate steps to ensure the sufferer has access to the necessary resources before the problem becomes so big that it’s overwhelming.

Dawn Marie Bailey’s picture

By: Dawn Marie Bailey

In this article series, we explain some of the successful strategies and programs shared by Baldrige Award recipients to highlight categories of the Baldrige Criteria and how your organization might consider using them as inspiration. 

Brian Lagas’s picture

By: Brian Lagas

When most people think of lean processes, they believe the goal is to optimize things in a step-by-step approach. The result that companies using lean methods can look forward to is incremental improvements brought about by the elimination of waste.

Individuals who stick with this definition often assert that lean principles oppose innovation. That’s because “innovation” is typically considered a product-based form of invention that causes disruption. Lean manufacturing is all about following well-defined processes and figuring out how to make them better. Innovation, on the other hand, usually occurs by uprooting current processes or blatantly not following them.

It may appear that lean manufacturing and innovation are opposed. However, some analysts assert that when companies recognize the compatibility between lean principles and innovation they will accelerate past their competition.

Carrie Van Daele’s picture

By: Carrie Van Daele

Crossing the street or stepping backward when you encounter another person has already become a habit, as has a routine elbow bump, instead of a handshake.

And that is definitely what is needed during a health crisis. But when the time is right, as a society we must bounce back to social connectivity to prevent productivity and relationships from being forever damaged.

Humans are social beings. Sure, we have varying levels of desire for social interaction; some of us want to spend time alone, while others are more inclined to want to hang out in groups. But in one form or another, we all strive for connection with one another.

The physical distancing and forced isolation was a shock to our social system. Although it is helping the health emergency, in the long run it will hinder companies’ efforts to ramp up productivity.

During the late 1970s, I remember the Big Three automotive companies launched a “Quality of Work Life” workshop to rebuild trust between employees and their superiors after an economic downturn resulting in layoffs. The Big Three knew ramping up productivity would happen only with repaired relationships.

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

By: Gleb Tsipursky

So many companies are shifting their employees to working from home to address the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Yet they’re not considering the potential quality disasters that can occur as a result of this transition.

An example of this is what one of my coaching clients experienced more than a year before the pandemic hit. Myron is the risk and quality management executive in a medical services company with about 600 employees. He was one of the leaders tasked by his company’s senior management team with shifting the company’s employees to a work-from-home setup, due to rising rents on their office building.

Specifically, Myron led the team that managed risk and quality issues associated with the transition for all 600 employees to telework, due to his previous experience in helping small teams of three to six people in the company transition to working from home in the past. The much larger number of people who had many more diverse roles they had to assist now was proving to be a challenge. So was the short amount of time available to this project, which was only four weeks, and resulted from a failure in negotiation with the landlord of the office building.

Multiple Authors
By: Donald J. Wheeler, Al Pfadt

Each day we receive data that seek to quantify the Covid-19 pandemic. These daily values tell us how things have changed from yesterday, and give us the current totals, but they are difficult to understand simply because they are only a small piece of the puzzle. And like pieces of a puzzle, data only begin to make sense when they are placed in context. And the best way to place data in context is with an appropriate graph.

When using epidemiological models to evaluate different scenarios it is common to see graphs that portray the number of new cases, or the demand for services, each day.1 Typically, these graphs look something like the curves in figure 1.


Figure 1: Epidemiological models produce curves of new cases under different scenarios in order to compare peak demands over time. (Click image for larger view.)

Quality Digest’s picture

By: Quality Digest

Marketing is all about having a clear vision. To many, that means understanding what you want to see happen, and how you plan to accomplish it.

As important as that is, however, a different and much more imperative vision must come first: the vision of your potential customers and their perception of your brand and offer. How these people locate you, and what they think when they first see your message, is something you must think about long and hard. First impressions are meaningful in real life. They are determinant online.

Questions abound when it comes to customers:
• Who are they?
• Where are they?
• What do they want?
• How do they find me?
• What moves them to act?

To start answering these questions, it helps to build a customer persona that is informed by data about your existing customers as well as some “dreaming” about the customers you want. Be specific. Create the story of your customers and imagine their lives in detail. You need to understand their motivations, their fears, their desires—whatever it is that will connect to what you have that will address their needs.

Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

When the Mosaic browser, with its consumer-friendly interface, was released to the world in 1993, most had no idea how radically this first foray into the internet era would transform our lives, both personally and professionally. As humans, we are generally poor at detecting and acting on early signals of change. And as business leaders, we don’t fare much better.

Most companies were late to the party on PCs, e-commerce, smartphones, digital payments, the sharing economy, gig work, AI, and now virtual ways of working. And it’s not for lack of trying. Last year, companies spent nearly $1.2 trillion on digital transformation, according to research by International Data Corporation. Yet only 13 percent of leaders believe their organizations are truly ready to compete in the digital age.

Enter the Covid-19 crisis. Although it may not be a welcomed shock to the system, it’s driving the rapid adoption of digital technologies and ways of working needed for companies just to stay relevant and continue to operate. Not only has the stock market experienced a historic drop in value, but companies also have had to dramatically change the way they operate amidst a social lockdown.

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