Saturday, July 30, 2005

Customer Quality --> Excuse me Sirs. Leave the Waitress Alone! Idiots!!

It disturbs me when I see a customer (punk) in a restaurant get mad at the waitress when the food is slow coming from the Kitchen. Is it her fault or the head cook who did not schedule the proper amount of cooks for a busy Friday night? Did it do any good when the restaurant manager also showed his displeasure to the waitress in front of customers?

It’s not the waitress’s job to schedule employees; it’s not the waitress’s fault if customers are displeased with the system. It’s easy for management to blame the worker. Why? – Because they can.

It’s the stupid head cook and numbnuts manager who own the system. When the waitress served my food I asked her if she was OK (I was looking to do a coco butt)? Oh yea, this happens all the time, management tries to save costs by not scheduling enough cooks (they make much more than the waitresses). They have no idea when we are busy and when we are not, even though this place has been open for more than five years.

qualityg says… another example of a system out of control, workers know the cause in these types of problems, but management in many cases blames them so they don’t speak up. It’s management’s job to listen and react. It doesn’t always require a big problem solving effort, a few placed measures (time and resources); some observation (see the whole process from order to delivery of food) and training (if doesn’t change behavior, remove the managers, they are in the wrong line of work) for management should do the trick.

Cost to Management – waitresses get frustrated and quit, manager must recruit, hire and train replacements. Unknowable cost for loss of customers (do they come back, do they tell others). Who loses here? Everybody you IDIOT ---> MANAGERS.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Six Sigma Conference & Whose your Daddy --> CEO?


Thinking back over the past 20 years up until 2003 I have attended between 40 – 50 quality types seminars/conferences (does not include training). Most of the time it was for learning but a major objective was to review the materials, company, instructors, and determine if there is anything new that could benefit the company.

When I got started in the quality movement back in 1980 Quality Circles was the big thing in the Untied States. Quality Circles started in Japan around 1960, my first introduction was from Japanese students studying at Michigan State University who suggested I read Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa’s book “Guide To Quality Control.”

As with most of the quality programs that have come and gone American Leadership & Management expected the worker to learn and improve their work because Management already knows the answers and this type of work should be delegated. Oh sure, everyone can provide me with stories of how different it is at their company. The plain fact is Management uses these types of programs as an easy way out, and they learn the catchwords and phrases so they can communicate to customers and suppliers that they know what is happening.

You see the underlying belief of many management people are the workers are responsible for most of the problems facing companies yesterday, today and will still be at fault tomorrow. The simple truth Management is responsible, always has been and always will as long as they continue to bow down to short-term quarterly results (one among other reasons).

So it was no surprise to me as I read last week the highlights of the International Six Sigma Conference held June 29, 2005. Many quality leaders and some executives from major companies attended and gave speeches. As I continued to read most of them gave the same speeches that I heard from their predecessors through ought the 80s and 90s.

The point is not the fact that the customer is number one and all we do is for the customer (this can not be said enough), the fact is Six Sigma like its predecessors say basically the same thing but Six Sigma Pontificators spend more time trying to convince you they are better and different because they focus more on the dollar.

There is some truth to the dollar fact, the reason being consultants are smart enough to know that the only way they can enter an executive door is to promise bottom line results in $$$$. The key words are bottom line, results and dollars. The problem with American Management style is concentration on bottom line, short-term results and dollars.

The following are some points made in the speeches by leaders of major companies that defined Six Sigma (I’m not naming people or specific companies because they are not alone):

  • To improve the relationship with the customer
  • Owning the customer pain point
  • There is a specific issue with the customer that needs to be addressed
  • Data determines the price/value solution
  • Building in executive contacts is key
  • There is an advantage in speaking a common language with customers
  • Make improvements all along the Value Stream
  • Develop a supportive, not a punitive approach

    And qualityg’s favorite “The impact Six Sigma at the customer can have on shareholder value ---> customer focus created customer success, customer success drives growth and growth creates shareholder value.”

    All at the expense of the worker, their families and the communities they live. Growth is supposed to also drive production, reinvest dividends (see below on dividends) back into the company for research, innovation, new products, educate workforce, create and capture new market share and above all create new jobs. This is not happening and you can see why by the words that are spoken by executives at meetings, on the news, taught in business schools and what is displayed on today’s television as a successful executive.

    click pic to enlarge

Hey, I’m not against making money and I know that is why a company is in business, but the means that today’s corporate executives are making money is also resulting in the demise of the American Standard of Living and they don’t care as long as they “think” they are getting their share. Even GE the big proponent of Six Sigma says, “Six Sigma is about completely satisfying customer needs profitably.” THE “METHOD” COMPANIES ARE GOING ABOUT TO DO THIS IS THE PROBLEM AND AMERICAN CORPORATE EXECUTIVES (and charlatan consultants) ARE AT FAULT!!!

This leads me to my second heading.


The answer; they report to their own pocketbooks. They want ‘quick” profits and higher stock prices all at the expense of dividends and employees.

You see dividends benefit the company as well as shareholders for long-term growth so that investments and the company can grow for 10, 15, 30 years. Skeptics (management whores) will say qualityg is all wrong and living in the past. AT&T was a model company for their first 100 hundred years, most widely held stock, best dividends, 1million plus employees, the best communication company in the world. What happened, two things, government intervention and corporate greed and ignorance?

CEOs don’t want dividends, they want the cash to buy back stock to control the price until they wish to cash in and then walk away or get fired for destroying the company, and they win either way.

The only way to stop this is for shareholders and employees to challenge CEOs at investor and board meetings. Sitting back and doing nothing, hoping that your management team has your best interest at heart is simply foolish.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Newspaper Education Columnists - When will you start asking some probing questions?

Newspaper Education Columnists

qualityg says...
Please stop referring to Bar Graphs as "Trend Charts." Taking six data points from a bar graph and putting them on a line chart over a period of a year is not trending. You need at least 30 data points to start understanding the "Voice of the Process."

How about asking some probing questions instead of what do you think Mr. so and so?

Why are you so concerned about just Math and Science? Perhaps I should only read the Sports and Travel sections and forget about Editorials, Education, Business, and Food sections.

I guess we wouldn't need those columnists just like we don't need Art, Drama, Social Studies, and English teachers. It's about the whole, the end-to-end process and how a change affects the whole process not just one or two parts.

Suppose I concentrate on the propeller and engine of a plane when it comes time to fly? Would you get on that plane? It takes all parts working together in order to fly, and it takes all subjects for a society to succeed.

But qualityg it will take us 30 years? qualityg says... - hire a theoretical statistician, measure monthly, and measure quarterly. If you have changed the process (testing method), then you should put a process measure at that point and see if the process is moving on the right direction.

But qualityg that will take another 30 years because we only test once a year? qualityg says... hire a theoretical statistician; develop process measures, instead of end of year/results measures.

Start asking the State Board of Education some tough questions –
Some Examples -->

By What Method do you develop these scores?

State Officials, By What Method do you surmise that if more kids take the test the MEAP scores will be lower? WHO CARES – surmise how the children will learn and gain knowledge, not memorize or guess on tests.

By What Method are you improving the educational system? What is your roadmap, how about a project plan with milestones and key dates? Who is the owner?

Why do you continue to search for answers at the end of the process and not the beginning (i.e., Dropouts)? Why do you need a conference, get facts, solve problems by trial and error, gain knowledge on the subject, quit guessing.

Governor Granholm - What indicators or methods tells you that by concentrating just on Math and Science that it will bring jobs to our State?

Why then are there so many engineers out of work now because of outsourcing?

Why do you only care that John and Jane have to take remedial math in college? Do you know they also have no idea where Iraq is, or what is the Capital of Ohio? How about the difference between a noun and a verb?
Challenge the experts, challenge me! Challenge somebody!!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Customer Quality "Measures - "What Time Is It? What ever the Customer says"

I attended a conference today and while listening to the speaker complain about his travel plans it reminded me of my adventures when I traveled frequently from coast to coast.

Once you become familiar with "Systems Thinking" it is very hard not to look at each situation from an end-to-end perspective.

A few years back I sent the following letter & high level flow to the airline I used 90% of the time for my business trips. I choose not to mention this airline because I believe it applies to each major airline. Some don’t even offer a meal any longer, but the principle applies to any industry.

Many companies look through their own eyes and not through their customers when setting expectations or requirements. Companies must become the "Thing" or become the "Customer" when setting expectations.

Let me explain my reasoning through an actual event. I had an early morning flight (7:10 AM) that was a 2-hour flight and there would be no meal served, only the usual coffee, tea, pretzels, etc. I found this unacceptable and inquired as to why a breakfast would not be served. The answer was it’s only a 2-hour flight.

Is it? Maybe by your calculations but not mine (customer).

You see my process started at 4:30 AM. My time is 5 hours and 15 minutes. Broken down as follows:

  • 45 minutes travel to airport (15 minute parking)
  • 1 hour arrival before flight (airline request)
  • 2 hour flight time (if on schedule - HA)
  • 30 minute baggage claim (subtract if carry-on)
  • 30 minute rental car (add time if reservation lost)
  • 30 minute travel to office (add time if first time to office)

In other words see the whole picture and use all your senses (feel, hear, see, touch, smell, common) to determine what your customer sees and wants. The airline only saw the flight time as their process, not the whole (e.g., system) customer experience when traveling.

HINT: If you can find a McDonald’s order a Happy Meal and carry on the plane (but be sure to add in the extra time)!

"By the Numbers" @ "The Vision Thing"

The following Blogpost is provided by my Blogpal Ethan.

I was asked to provide some input.

Go to the post below before reading my response.
Quality By the Numbers

Below is my response:
E @ TVT,

2 cents worth – PUNT!

2 dollars worth,

I hate to do this (the correct way is to meet with Ethan and clarify request) but I’m going to make some assumptions for Learning sake (I should not ask questions without additional knowledge, aghh who cares people do it all the time).

1. There is a process/system for performing this task, it was stable at one time and the process is no longer capable of meeting current and future customer requirements.
2. There is a process/system for performing this task, was stable prior to the previous three batches. If this process is Stable, informing the worker about the defects and to run additional batches is TAMPERING to the Big Dog!
3. There is a process in place and we have no idea if it’s stable (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, we just change as we go…. and the QAs have no idea of the requirements since they think Cs are OK.
4. There are NO prevention type process measures at critical points in the production process to let worker no there is a problem without waiting for inspection (1-10-100 rule), think of this as dollars, $100 means end of process, $10 means caught in mid production and $1 defect caught at beginning of process. Unknowable cost if product is shipped to customer(s).
5. QAs (Assurance) are really QCs (Control). Jack Welch would fire; qg would ask Management to inquire into process/system since they own it. There is a cost for being stupid and the “Leaders” of this company are to blame. P/S – I don’t want to hear any crap that it’s the worker’s fault.
6. Company is measuring to customer specification without knowing if process is stable (must be stable before capable of meeting customer specs). So many do this mistake, use/hire a Statistician (I’m not one, just an applicationist).

There is more but that would be in the 200 dollars range.

Where does one start with such a mess? Do we start over and Design a new process using a “Methodology” that must include all internal players as well as customer requirements and suppliers input? Example: qgMethodology:

1. Define and initiate the Scope and Plan the project using Project, Process, Technical, Management Tools & Principles
2. Then we thoroughly must understand and specify process owners, users, suppliers and customer requirements (Critical to Quality Requirements).
3. Develop a High-Level Design based on CTQs.
4. Develop “detailed” Design and any corresponding code, work plans or procedures.
5. Verify Design meets CTQs and implement new design with associated process and quality measures.

The previous example is probably an unlikely solution or starting point for this company.

qualityg is going to go out on a limb and say items 2-6 above are all involved.

Tampering is action on the process/system without identifying the “probable” cause(s) of the trouble.

A process may be stable (i.e., B’s results are within control limits), yet turn out faulty items and mistakes (Stable can mean good or bad, depending on the situation). To take action on the results of a stable process in reaction to production of a defective machine part or a mistake is to tamper with the process. This can be a “very” costly mistake (1-10-100 rule).
Please remember that customer specs are not control limits. Severe losses occur when a process is continually adjusted one way and then the other to meet specifications.
In order to improve a stable system the complete process/system must change, not just a part of the process. One must understand Variation.

Let me recommend Dr. Deming’s “The New Economics.” – to learn more about Tampering (chapter 9 – Funnel Experiment) and Variation (chapter – 10 – Lessons in Variation). Deming Books

Hope this helps,

Monday, July 04, 2005

Misc - -> qg Kudos to - 7/4/05 - To the Girls of Summer

Since my post on Creative - "It's in the Art," I have received Emails directing me to see more creative students and their displays of Art.

Self-portraits are qualityg's favorite type of Art (i.e., Vincent Van Gough). I saw a number of them today at the local library. A 9th grade student named Rachel did my favorite. I understand the artist is also an outstanding student.A creative qualityg Kudo to Art Teacher Karen Zurakowski, and her class for a great creative artistic display.

Hey Rachel, now that your in the ninth grade and doing so well I think your Mom and Dad should get you a car so you can take your Art show on the road.

uqg (my self portrait is a stick man)

p/s - qg kudos to both of my kids who made the deans list for the second time this year at MSU! And, for finding summer jobs!

qg kudos to Kristen for taking "the long and winding road" to graduate, it certainty has led to a door at your new job and office.

qg kudos to Beth for taking a risk and showing her independence.

qg kudos to Lindsay, Grahm and Joe as they continue to travel and learn in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

qg kudos to Michael who continues to find his way in Texas.

qg kudos to Stephen down in Florida who is planning on studying at Oxford this summer.

updated 5/23/05

qg kudos to my God Daughter "Carly" who is NOT vain and this post is about her.

Carly - your growing up so fast, and I sure am proud of you!

updated 6/15/05

qualityg kudos to : The Durfee Boys of Durfee Elementary & Middle School in Detroit for participating in the eCYBERMISSION National Finals Competition for sixth - to ninth graders. The boys beat out 1,150 teams in the Regional Science Competition!

read story @

updated 6/21/05

qualityg kudos to: SBR - qg is often rough on instructors, but he also exalts those that do a great job. This summer I had the privilege of being in a class taught by Mrs. SBR. She does a great job by modeling what a teacher should be, she is respectful, professional, fair, honest and knows her stuff! The class I was in was small, which made it much more enjoyable. My classmates were great people and I learned a lot from both the instructor and my peers.

updated 6/30/05


qualityg has some very neat nephews and nieces. My oldest nephew Chris was visiting from Atlanta the last few weeks. Well it wasn't a planned trip he was here to see his Grandfather (father-in-law) who was in the hospital with heart failure. Chris has a special spot for his Grandfather (Grandmother too) since he helped raise him and considers him more as a father figure.

So why is he so special? Because he is Chris, unfortunately he didn't have a so-called normal childhood but he has a mother who did her best and relatives on his mother's side who care about him while he lives his life in Atlanta.

I picked Chris up from his Grandmother's house this morning at 4:45AM. As we packed the car with luggage the windows were down and U2 (streets with no name) was blaring from my CD. Geez, uncle qualityg I forgot how crazy you are! Driving to the airport I hit through the CD with a wide variety of tunes (from Louie Armstrong to Super Tramp to Eminem). Chris guessed every song right and was impressed when I told him Eminem was one of my favorites (he's honest, he's tough, got guts, talented and he is from Detroit).

As we said our good byes I watched him walk into the terminal and thought to myself, he's a survivor, he's a good kid, he's now a man and he will be OK.

My Favorite Hibernian,

How ironic, wearing my Scottish shirt (Brother-in-law Bob bought for me while in Scotland) today and received a post card from my buddy Thadeaus who is currently vacationing in Scotland the land of my ancestors.

Thad is as Irish as they get and he likes me because I have some Irish too. He now lives in Vermont but travels quite frequently during his retirement.
He is one heck of a Hibernian and a quality guy too.

updated 7/4/05

The Girls of Summer

Special qg thanks to Rudy and Mike for supplying the boat and tube rides!

click on pictures to enlarge

Robbie & Gina don't get mad, I could have picked the other pictures, Buddy didn't mind!

So much for the pool