Sunday, April 29, 2007

Establishing Metrics is Vital for all Plans and Process Improvements


Determine the following:

• Purpose/Mission of Process or WorkTeam
- Created by Executive Process Owners
- How it was formed & members chosen

The first team meeting should lay the foundation for how the group will set and achieve their goals.

• Define goals of group • Location of meetings
• Roles and Responsibilities • Frequency of meetings

Process Owner:
• Is accountable for the quality of process output.
• Is responsible for results of the process.
• Has the authority and ability to make changes.
• Can allocate resources (people, time, money, equipment).
• Is responsible of satisfactorily carrying out ownership roles and responsibilities to handling other priorities.
• Appoints sub-process owners.
• Exercises authority to effect change.

Project Leaders:
• Plan and schedule meetings.
• Communicate teams activities & progress to Process Owners.
• Keep team focused.
• Responsible for the integrity of all data used in setting up measurements.
• Provide expertise on process improvement activities.
• Provide technical assistance with process improvement tools and techniques.
• Assist in determining and developing operational measurements.

Team Members:
• Be the subject matter experts on, and represent, your Operations area.
• Communicate with appropriate Operational employees to collect data and implement customer focused measures.
• Collect and analyze data for measurements.
• Identify appropriate Operations employees to monitor and measure data on an ongoing basis.
• Actively participate in team meetings.


Measurements should track how well our processes are performing according to:
• Customer Expectations (inc perception) • Organization Objectives
• Customer Satisfaction • Value Drivers
• Competitive Benchmarking • Employee Satisfaction

The above stated types of measurements will help determine the overall quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of all processes.

The activities involved in defining and establishing measures include:
1. Determining effective measures
2. Reviewing and validating existing measures
3. Implementing new measurements
4. Install a measurement and reporting system
5. Establish a feedback and monitoring system
6. Monitor measurements


Effective measures provide an insightful means about the efficiency of a process. Measures of this type are meant to track and align performance (process) and results (quality) indicators of a business process.

Establishing Effective Measurements:
Create effective measurements based upon the following:
• Customer expectations/requirements
• Practical to implement
• Easy to comprehend
• Consensus of agreement by group
• Able to help drive culture change

What to Measure:
Establish measurements based upon customer expectations and business objectives. These measurements should measure what our customers care about and what will drive our Value Drivers toward exceeding Operational business objectives.

Develop objective measures of customer satisfaction. Without measures, we have no means by objectively assessing the magnitude by which our processes are performing to customer and business requirements, and whether or not our improvement efforts and newly implemented systems have improved the process.

These types of measurements should provide objective data that will drive decisions that will produce long-term customer preference.

If suppliers are included, be sure to measure input characteristics and services.

How to Measure:
Implement simple, easy to understand measurements whenever possible. Measurements that are complex will not be used.

It is vital that our measurements be easily defined, understood and communicated to assure common understanding.

A small amount of meaningful measures are worth 10 times more than a large amount of nice to know measures (non-value added).

It's OK to experiment with measures, if they don't tell you what you need, stop measuring and create new ones.

If at the beginning measured identification is difficult, start with customer satisfaction, every major process has a customer.
Don't just measure one aspect of a process. Yur measurements should be balanced with variable, attribute and some subjective characteristics like time, cost, quantity and customer perception.

Evaluating Measures:
In the beginning it might be best to implement a few strategically based measurements. As stated before, it's best to experiment and monitor the effectiveness of few, rather than implementing a large amount and never monitor.


Once we've identified and understood what makes effective measurement, it is necessary to assess measurements that are already in place. Effective measurements provide input data that drive motivation for continuous improvement. Those that do not measure up should be changed or eliminated.

Measurement Balance:
If current measurements are only measuring internal business objectives, move to measure the effectiveness of our processes or solutions from a customer perspective.

Measure Behavior:
Implement measures that level to desired behavioral results. Verify the measures do not drive undesired behavior by our workers or to your customers. For example, many companies have found that they speculated "speed of answer" as a desirable measurement for customer satisfaction. Customer survey and interviews found that quality of service provided was more important than speed of answer.


It is vital that any new measurements implemented are effective and efficient and that it is collected, analyzed, and used in a way that motivates positive behavior and not punitive threats to workers.

Data Collection:
Make sure those responsible for collecting or installing new measurements are familiar with data and are part of the implementation plan.


Installing a measurement and reporting system requires an action plan of implementation that identifies the roles and responsibilities of the Process Owner and Sub-Process Owners who will be accountable for the measures.

This also requires agreement on what measures will be reported and that method and system support is available. The Action Plan must include trend analysis and plans of who will respond to them in a timely basis.

Whenever possible and cost effective, automate as many measurements as possible. The advantage is more accurate and timely data collection and analysis.

Share Measurements:
Post measurements data in visible places, so that results can be shared by workers in the process. It's also a good idea to keep everyone in the process informed from end-to-end.


By establishing a feedback system, employees will keep abreast of changing expectations and update the current process as required.

Sharing Feedback:
Corporate Quality, Marketing, Sales and Front Line customer facing employees must keep upper management aware of changing customer needs so that business objectives and measurements may be changed accordingly.

It's also important to share feedback with workers in the process as well as customers and suppliers.


Employees identified as measurement owners must constantly evaluate their measurements, reassess customer needs, and continuously search for new ways to use data for continuous improvement.

Evaluate Measurements:
If your measurements are not accurately reflecting process performance or drive undesirable behavior, they should be removed. Update or install new measures as needed.

Benchmark Measures:
Benchmarking yuour process measurement performance relative to your competitors will be vital to competition. Benchmarking provides information to leaders that helps establish performance targets based on data from the marketplace. Benchmaring is a useful method to supply additional data and information but not to be used exclusively for changes or measurements.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Best Efforts & Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ) + Special & Common Cause Variation

Tampering - What many Managers do because they do not understand Variation. Basically it is the unnecessary adjustments (decisions) made in an effort to compensate for common cause variation.

Common Cause Variation - Systemic Variation that is found in all processes (i.e., inputs, new conditions, etc...) that defines the amount of variation that is within every system. Very very difficult to identify one source to common cause variation (as opposed to special cause variation).

Special Cause Variation - Are specific factors that attack a system like a virus attacks a body, they can usually be tracked down to a single source and removed. The key is identifying data in a timely manner, removing and preventing this cause from happening again. Spacial Cause results in big spikes to a system or process and must be dealt with in a completely different manner than Common Cause Variation.


Additional Information (Post) on Worker Variation can be found at

Additional Information (Post) on Cost of Poor Quality can be found at

Saturday, April 21, 2007

To Grocery Store Managers, Cashiers and  Baggers of America
Some days you just got to speak up and tell someone to take action. This happened to me last night while Grocery Shopping at my local Kroger. Friday evening are always bust around 4:30 - 6:30 pm when people stop and do some grocery shopping on their way home from work. Today was no exception. As I approached the lines they had the express line open and one regular line. I was the third in line and there were two more behind me as I waited (trapped) in line listening to the cashiers and baggers complain about hours. Worst of all the one of the cashier's friends stops by to chat and they are going on and on as customers wait patiently in line.

Finally they open another line and the bagger that was doing my line naturally moves over to the new line leaving my gabby cashier with no one to bag. I look back and there are now 4 people in my line and 5 in the new line. One of the cashiers call for Donald to come to bagging immediately. I finally am at the front and still no Donald. I begin bagging as quickly as I can as my fellow customers wait in line with disgusting looks on their faces.

Here comes Donald slowly pushing two empty carts over to the bottles section. As I look down the aisle I see the Manager is up on a ladder straightening some stupid hanging sign. Donald continues to stay with the bottles. As the Manager approaches I think perhaps he will grace us with his presence and help. He walks by and I say "Mr. Manager, when will Donald be here to bag?" He goes in to a litany of excuses as to why Donald can't come right now. These are bull shit excuses and I tell him what can be more important than 10 customers waiting in line while you have workers standing around? He tries to explain about Donald and I tell him Donald was never here, the cashier finally speaks up and says I called Donald over 10 minutes ago and he never came, he never listens. The Manager is now packing the final two bags (out of 14) in my cart per my request. As I leave the Manager says "I hope you have a great rest of your day sir."

As I walk away I look at the other customers, many who now have their heads down or looking the other way, they are the ones who bitch the loudest outside the store but stand silent and let someone else do their dirty work.

I speak up and I write and I teach, that should say it all when it comes to explaining customer service to my students.

Am I the only one who feels trapped when they get in line at the grocery store? It drives me crazy when the cashiers and the bagging people are talking among themselves and complain (bitch) about their hours, boss, co-workers, pay, management, who is working and who is not and did you know what so and so did.

Other than saying hi and thank you that is the extent of the conversation with the customer. Most of the customers I’m in line with just want to move quickly and get home. They have had a hard day at work and the last thing they want to hear is complaining by people who are paid to do their job and interact in a customer-facing job.

The worst is when you have a dead end job or no job at all and they complain about their jobs.

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe it the “American Workers” right to complain about work and the boss, just not in front of customers. C’mon cashiers and baggers how stupid can you be and don’t ask me my opinion, you won’t like it.

I wish I could say this is an occasional occurrence or it is done only in the store where I shop. My experiences and data say otherwise.

I know it can be a rough job with insensitive customers, but you must realize that you represent your company and the perception you give off is realty to us and would you want to shop where all the workers do is complain.

So, will you cashiers and baggers “Please Shut-Up” until you go on break.

Cashier Rules to Customers (written by a cashier worker):
1. Yes, I am open. I am always open. In fact, I never leave. Don't ask if I am open!
2. Yes, you see me here again. I work here. Everyday.
3. This is an express lane. What part of "15" do you not understand?
4. No, I do not want your change. I received plenty from the customer in front of you.
5. Please try looking for the item yourself before you come up and ask me. And no, it is not my job
to know where every single item in the store is located.
6. Do not assume I belong in the department you are currently in, and then get mad when I can not find the item for which you are looking.
7. Just because an item is anywhere near a sale tag; do not assume it is on sale.
8. Do not tell me, "But the other store does it for me!" We are not the other store. Go there if you want their service.
9. I do not care whether you want paper or plastic. I do not care why you want the respective bags or the reasons for their use. Just take the damn things and go!
10. I am a cashier. I am not an idiot. The words are not synonymous. Please don't treat me as such. You need idiots like me to ring up your order.

****Please take the above advice to heart and remember: somewhere out there is a cashier that feels this way and is about to explode. Do you want to be the final straw?****
qualityg says YES!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Computers in the Classroom: Cause of Change? Updated 4/18/07

Computers in the Classroom -Do They Help?


I have written on this subject before but it needs to be questioned again and again when it comes to school districts using their money wisely.

Almost every school district in the country has bought some sort of computer software that advertises to help students do better in math, phonics or reading.

Once again it is that time of year when many school districts (mine included) put special Bonds to be voted on and start complaining there is not enough money so cuts in both classes and programs will need to be reduced or cancelled.

This used to only happen during Bargaining time but now it is every year. Learning threats are always made that if we don’t have the latest technology we will fall behind in the “Test Scores.” Do Test Scores = Learning?

Personally, I believe computers and software must be in the schools ONLY after it is proven that the Technology and Computers are designed into the day-to-day curriculum and that the Teachers are certified to use a Computer. WHAT! Yes, just like any class a Teacher must be certified or have a degree in that discipline.

In business and academics the number one reason why the hardware and software is not utilized is what I call “Pilot Error.”

User Error, many teachers and college instructors do not know how to use the darn things well enough to enhance learning.

In the past two years of taking College classes not one Instructor was skilled in the use of the computer. The best they can do is to ask someone (usually a student) load the Instructor ready PowerPoint presentations (BORING) that are no better than the old slides or overheads.

What about On-Line courses that are so popular today. Wonder Why? Because it's easy and fast to get a grade. Do Grades = Learning?

I have walked through many K-12 Classrooms and I see Computers everywhere. They are mostly being used to search the Internet for Information (this does not mean knowledge) or watching some streamlined video from an education sight that the teachers can click on to show their class. The same as the old movies or Video Cassettes that show the same information.

I know of many school computer rooms that schedule kids once a week for 30 -45 minutes to learn the computer. The Computer Teacher was laid off and now the classroom teacher or a sub teacher is now responsible for the computer room. Did I mention the 40 new desktop computers loaded with software. Maybe we could have kept the Computer Teacher if we kept the old computers that were less than 5 years old (All on Windows XP).

There are some teachers that let their students use the computer because thy no longer wish (or never could) teach. It’s like putting your kid in front of the TV and having them be entertained while you do something else.

Then you have the teachers who won’t use the computer because they can’t and others because they will not let anyone or anything come into their classroom that challenges their teaching tactics.

Now your school board loves to pass mileages and bonds that provide thousands and thousands of dollars to being your schools into what everyone perceives to be the best way for children to learn. Again, you can have the biggest and fastest planes but if you don’t have pilots that can fly them they will sit in the airport concourses for all to marvel at what great things we can build and design.

Parents and PTO Members (I applaud your efforts but you are too intimidated by School Administrators to challenge them) walk around and see your dollars at work, go to the office and get a pass and let the administrators know you want to see the computer room during a class or sit in on a classroom where there are computers being used and best yet ask for demonstrations by the teachers who all have the newest Laptops and Software somewhere displayed in their room.

Please make sure it is more than Email and some silly Attendance Program. Next, go to your next school board meeting and ask them why we are cutting programs because lack of funds? Then ask them for the amount of dollars spent on Computer Technology (DO NOT FALL FOR THE LINE THAT IT COMES OUT OF A DIFFERENT BUDGET).

Ask the School Board if they have seen any data that proves grades and test scores are improving? Do not accept that Correlation (Grades going up and new computers) equals Causation. You will need many more variables before that can be proved. To prove my point take the reading class where grades have been improved and ask the teacher for a lesson plan demonstartion on how the computer helped RAISE THE GRADES AND TEST SCORES. Do Grades and Test Scores = Learning?

I want computers/technology to be a part of the learning of each child, but I also want teachers in the classroom with a decent number of students so all can learn. Keep cutting teachers and combining classes and thinking technology will fill the gap is a dangerous comprimise.

We can no longer afford to be fooled by technology and what other schools are doing. Find out for yourself, you owe it to your children and your pocketbooks.

Better yet ASK your children to show you on your home computer what they learned in class today.

This link is for the new report that just came out from the government that will provide more information.

HOWEVER, you must find out for yourself at your school and your school district. Make the people who sit on these boards do the work they should instead of going on trips or sitting at the front of the raised school board room that is used for intimidation and discussions among themselves (like your bosses desk) and not for communications with people in the audience.

I hope many readers will dispute my claims and provide me data and information to the contrary. My hope would then be those that can teach those that can't.
On a related topic, the following link provides some well nedded comments:
Schools must play high-tech catch-up
April 18, 2007

Friday, April 13, 2007

Is the Duke Rape Case Really Over?

I wrote the post preceding this one in May of 2006 when the Duke Rape Case was getting a lot of attention in the press and the television. DA Mike Nifong is in big trouble now that the case is over, but is it really over?

Will it ever be over for the three young men accused of rape? Will their futures be tainted as they try to proceed in life by finding a job or a wife? Oh most people won't care because they are three white boys from rich white backgrounds.

At times I would stop by one of the cable court shows and listen to the so-called professionals discuss the case and what punishment the three men should get for raping the woman at a party.

Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson ( I guess this means the girls was African American, papers never really did say) were quick on the scene to make sure justice was being served. In fact they felt so bad for this woman their organizations stated they would pay her college education becasue she was ruined for life. Where are Jeeese Jackson and Al Sharpton now? Oh yeah, they are all over the television making sure they get the credit for the demise of "Imus the Idiot."

I have no problem with the Imus situation (except it has allowed evry newspaper columinst in the country to way in on their views and expertise - PLEASE SHUT-UP. I just can't read or watch any story when Jackson and Sharpton jump on the scene. Will someone new from the Black community please take a leadership role. I can't believe they are the only two MEN that represent racial injustice. Imus apologized and so should they for all the lies, disparaging, and miss information they slurred at the three Duke men. Can anyone say Tawana Brawley?

Did not the Lacrosse Coach resign from his position? Perhaps now that Imus got fired Al and Jesse can get the Duke lacrosse coach his job back?

So what happens to NiFong? What happens to the girl that falsely accused the three men? I can't write her name because she has been protected from the grief and pain that has come her way by the Duke establishment.

I look forward to watching the three young men on 60 Minutes on 4/15/07. At least one news show is following the case and just not saying "Whoops" it's over.

There will always be people like Imus and other gutless radio show hosts who use their positions and absolute power to say hateful and wrong information at the expense of others, but what happens to the innocent who can't defend themselves because they have no access to the newspapers and airwaves?

Imus got his, but what about Nifong and the girl and others who defamed all over the place? I for one want to know!

We sure have some Quality Leadership in this country. NOT!!

Week Ending 5/20/06

DA Mike Nifong says, “Duke rape case not going away”

qg says … At least until you are re-elected. "Please Shut-Up"

Mike Nifong has never seen a need to apologize for how he’s investigating rape allegations against members of Duke University’s lacrosse team. Now that voters have backed his bid to remain district attorney, he sees no reason to start.

A court motion read...
"He [Nifong] created a conflict between his professional duties and the search for truth, and his personal vested interest in getting elected," the motion says.

"In his zeal to make national headlines and win a hotly contested primary, the DA Nifong intentionally ignored other evidence which was inconsistent with rape at the expense of [Seligmann] and all other Duke lacrosse players," the motion continues. "All this evidence shows that DA Nifong's rape case was a post-hoc shakedown."

This guy is only representing himself and is not interested in the truth. He does not represent the Victim(s) (girl or players). He represents his own self interest and legacy. Perhaps his next job will be as a CEO of a company.

JUSTICE should be served but Not at the hands of a self-interest NiWeasel.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Worker Variation (Capability) in the Workplace

In reading Dr. Deming’s work, The New Economics for Industry, Government, and Education (ORDER IT! ) for the third time a continuously recurring theme emerges. This should not come as a surprise to you who are familair with his work, as most of Deming’s writing is based on his principle of the system of Profound Knowledge. Deming defines his system of profound knowledge as four, all related parts: Appreciation for a System; Knowledge about Variation; Theory of Knowledge; and Psychology. The aspect of Deming's writings I want to discuss is the theme on the Knowledge about Variation, and how this theoretical principle has actual, practical application in the workplace.

Deming's realization that "there will always be, between people, in output, in service, in product "(p.98) a certain level of variation, is very similar to worker capability in the workplace. In this write up I specifically want to discuss the applicability of the distribution of capabilities of individual workers; the variation in specifications or requirements needed to perform certain tasks; and the ranking of employees based on irrelevant performance evaluations, with the ensuing detrimental affects on the system.

Deming observes life, as do I from a different perspective. His discourse of the teacher who sends the notes home to the parents, informing them that their child had failed both tests (p.99) was a real eye opening revelation. Deming’s treatment of the variation of skills as a normal distribution verified through statistical measurements is an intuitive observation for most people; it is something that most people feel or realize, yet are not able to quantify logically or express rationally. It also reminds me of the time I had a heated discussion (argument) with a Ph.D. at Central Michigan about grades. He believed in the Bell Shaped Curve. I believed in my students. They (10) had all done “A” work and deserved the grade. He demanded some be given Bs & Cs. They all got As. I will never compromise this principle. Some folks don’t deserve As, but it is out job as leaders/teachers to provide them opportunities to receive As in areas of their expertise.

It has been my perception that in any given work situation there are certain people who are more able or capable of doing certain jobs than their co-workers or peers. If Deming's theories were applied to the workplace where the process has been brought into a state of statistical control, then for any one given task, if there were a sufficient number of workers, a distribution curve could be developed which would distribute these workers in such a fashion that a six-sigma differential could develop between the most capable worker and the least capable worker.

In a workplace where variation of worker capability is not recognized, or ignored, a pair of workers could be selected at random to work together as a team to perform a specific task. Consequently, there is the probability that based on the distribution of the workers; two persons are selected to work together from opposite sides of the curve. However, because the system is in statistical control, both workers might be fully qualified to perform the task, resulting in satisfactory work output.

When a complex task is contemplated, it is imperative that the worker's capabilities are able to shift with the process, placing a higher demand on their stored capabilities. Some workers do not have this reserve. If this is the case, then the worker on the left side of the curve would fall out of the control limit and should be replaced with a worker that falls closer to the mean. When the complex task is such that an equal effort is required from both workers, worker A might intuitively feel that she has been placed at a disadvantage when partnered with worker B, who is known, although not necessarily by management but certainly by his peers, to lack the required skills to do this complex task.

However, when worker A suggests or hints to management that worker B is not capable of performing the required work, Worker A’s candor might be perceived by management as a "high-horse" tactic. Because the manager doesn't have the Knowledge about variation, workers are assigned at random because from the manager’s viewpoint, all workers are equally capable. Therefore, worker A's complaint may be viewed as the result of a superiority complex; Worker A might even be stigmatized as not being a team player. But as Deming says, "A manager needs to understand that all people are different" (p.94). Worker A's attitude is observed by Management to be a Type 1 Error; contributing worker A's reluctance to working with worker B as a special cause, when it is really a reluctance to deal with an incapable co-worker, who is there as a result of a common variation.

According to Dr. Deming, pairing up of workers can be good for the System, because the capable worker will support the incapable worker. The member of the group who is outside of the distribution curve in the system may need special help. In that system, the other members within the system will help the person outside of the control limits. This unsolicited help will benefit the whole system, and eventually the person lying outside the lower control limit will eventually move into the stable state. This is fine if, when the task is completed, both workers get the recognition for the effort.

However, if the existence of a variation in worker capabilities is not recognized, then the worker outside of the control limits will not get the special help, but will be seen as equally capable and this incapable worker will be given an assignment that he is not able to perform. Knowing his own shortcomings, (knowing his place on the variation distribution scale), the incapable worker will extract information and/or results from others, or get capable workers to do his work. But to keep the inability from being obvious, he will not give credit where credit is due. However, the work delivered by the incapable worker, at the expense of the co-workers, is viewed as good work, and subsequently the incapable worker is viewed as a capable worker.

In the above example, worker A is reluctant to work with worker B, because she has taught that worker B will let worker A do all the difficult work. But in the spirit of team effort and cooperation, workers A and B complete the required complex task, and will be similarly rewarded. This is all acceptable to worker A when there is no ranking of people, because she realizes that for the good of the system, it is worth her effort to help worker B. But when there is a worker ranking system on top of the lack of Knowledge about variation, the system breaks down. Unfortunately, because there is no basic Knowledge about variation, employees are typically ranked in accordance with some irrelevant, immeasurable performance criteria instead of the natural distribution curve.

Consequently, when the company worker A works for institutes a ranking system where each worker is ranked relative to her team mates, it isn't long before she objects to helping the incapable worker, especially when it is known that, at the expense of his co-workers, the incapable worker will do everything possible to obtain a higher relative ranking. So now that capable workers objects to having to work with incapable workers, management is surprised and does not understand the reluctance by the workers, even though they created that unstable system themselves.

Deming’s viewpoint on variation explains the phenomenon that so often eludes management’s understanding of the lack of cooperation or teamwork between its employees. Summing this all up, the final outcome seems to be that if teamwork and cooperation is required for the benefit of the system, ranking employees on arbitrary, non-related performance criteria rather than on the normal state, statistical control distribution curve will only be counter-productive and detrimental to management’s objectives. Where teamwork would have been a natural result in a stable system, the implementation of a ranking system destroyed all incentives for the workers to help each other.