Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ford: Quality is Job One & Two & Three ...

I thought I was in a time warp this morning when I opened up the paper to read, “There’s an untold story behind Ford’s dramatic improvement in quality ratings.

Ford Motor Company removed 100 top (?) assembly workers out of the plant for months to help engineers, designers. And suppliers identify quality problems in manufacturing.

Say what, I thought you were already doing this since 1981.
  • "I'm proud to say I'm a Deming disciple, and we at Ford are committed to his operating principles, particularly the ethic of continuous improvement and the involvement of all employees." - Donald E. Petersen Chairman of the Board Emeritus, Ford Motor Company.
  • Ford Motor Company called upon Dr. Deming to help. According to Don Petersen, former CEO and Board Chairman of Ford, Deming’s approach was the key to the turn around of the fortunes of Ford. Waste was reduced, labor relations improved, customer satisfaction increased and Ford was able to stay in business and compete again. Petersen is unequivocal about the basis for Ford's success: "People want to do a good job, Dr. Deming's ideas and concepts, as we got them going through our system, gave people more and more this feeling that they had a better chance to do a good job. The rate of improvement, in many ways, was much grater than anything we could anticipate."

I still read articles, books, and magazines and attend conferences on Quality Improvement. I am not very tolerant when it comes to people or consultants that proclaim them selves to be Quality experts, especially those who claim to have created a new Quality Process or Program.

The reason I keep researching and studying Quality initiatives is so I can keep learning. Unfortunately all I find is retread quality material and articles that I used to read and listen to in the 1980s and 1990s.

It has been years since a new innovative approach has been developed or some new school of thought regarding Quality Process Improvement. I include Six Sigma, Lean and Lean Six Sigma as evolutions of Quality. Perhaps they have created a few new steps or ideas but they are far far from being new or innovative.

I have collected Quality Digest and American Society of Quality (ASQ) magazines since the 1979. When I read a Blog or a Post on some Six Sigma Site I often pull out an old article that has already written and provided examples some 20 + years ago.

I’m all for learning and keep learning but I am against people passing themselves and their products off as their own thinking and creations. I often post on these sites and challenge their thinking and claims to be experts, I also provide proof. You should see some of the responses I get, usually by others who are friends or colleagues of the person I am challenging.

Humbly some of my writings and process improvement creations can be found on other sites passed off as original of the author. My only hope is the material is being used for improvement within companies.

There are no quick fixes, no low hanging fruit ( and no new process on the market that can improve a system or process that has already been done and tested.

Dr. Deming told Ford Motor Company (and many many others) in the 1980s on how to improve a system. I guess the new leaders at Ford don’t remember this training and knowledge they received and that is not only their problem it is the problem of many American Companies today. See Below Deming Flow from 1950, it still holds true today from which all other Quality processes originate.
Click on Flow to Enlarge

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