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From the Lean Lexicon 5th Edition:

Quality Assurance:   see Inspection
Quality Control Circle:   A small group of workers and their team leader who collectively identify problems in their work area, analyze them, and provide solutions.  In contrast to other companies, particularly in the West, circles at Toyota are integrated into the overall total quality control system and shop-floor organization. Toyota circles meet two to three times per month from 30 to 60 minutes.  Management expert Peter Drucker noted that circles were used widely in the U.  S. during World War II. They reached their greatest success in Japan after the war. The U.  S. re-imported them during the quality movement of the 1970s More »
Quality Function Deployment:   A visual decision-making procedure for cross-functional product project teams that develops a common understanding of customer needs (the “voice of the customer”) and a consensus on the final engineering specifications of the product to meet those needs that has the commitment of the entire team.  QFD integrates the perspectives of team members from different disciplines, ensures that their efforts are focused on resolving key trade-offs in a consistent manner against measurable performance targets for the product, and deploys these decisions through successive levels of detail. The use of QFD eliminates expensive backflows and rework as projects near launch.  A hallmark More »
Building in Quality:   see Jidoka
Built-in Quality:   see Jidoka
Total Quality Control:   see Total Quality Management
Total Quality Management:   A management approach in which all departments, employees, and managers are responsible for continuously improving quality so that products and services meet or exceed customer expectations.  The Total Quality Control (TQC) methodology relies on the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle to manage processes and, when problems arise, statistical tools to solve them. The methodology and tools are used often by employees during kaizen activities and together form an important subsystem of lean.  The term “total quality control” was coined in 1957 by U.  S. quality expert Armand Feigenbaum, who saw quality control professionals as central to promoting TQC. By the 1980s, other More »
Delivering Quality Foods with Zingerman's Mail Order
By: Josh Howell | March 2, 2020
Columns
Listen to this podcast between Tom Root, Zingerman Mail Order's Managing Director, and Josh Howell for a wide-ranging conversation about several phases of ZMO’s lean transformation, including the challenge of establishing a culture of continuous improvement with full participation, and how lean thinking could impact the food industry that’s in desperate need of a better way. More »
My managers are focused on monthly sales and quarterly profits – how can a lean guy like me interest them in quality?
By: Michael Ballé | February 10, 2020
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: My managers are focused on monthly sales and quarterly profits – how can a lean guy like me interest them in quality? More »
Designed In Quality
By: Jim Morgan | March 19, 2019
Columns
Extraordinary quality is not only designed into the product, it is designed into the development process itself, says Jim Morgan, who suggests that the next time you might be tempted to minimize Toyota’s quality performance, you will think about how Toyota’s principles and practices might help you design-in better quality in your products and processes. More »
7 Elements of Quality on the Shop Floor
By: Andrew Quibell | November 28, 2017
Columns
"How do you lean out a quality approach that can work on the shop floor (maybe even compatible in a healthcare environment as well)?" people often ask Andrew Quibell. "How does it look? What should you include?" Read more. More »
What is the lean approach to quality – is that what six sigma is all about?
By: Ballé, Michael | December 7, 2015
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I’m a frequent reader of your columns and you always seem to emphasize quality first, but I can’t find many books detailing a lean approach to quality – is this what six sigma is about? More »
What's the main quality I should look out for in hiring a lean coach?
By: Ballé, Michael | May 14, 2014
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I’m in the process of hiring a Lean Coach for my team and I wondered if there was any one quality I should look out for? More »
I’ve heard you say the quality department is the worst enemy of quality. I find this offensive.
By: Ballé, Michael | March 3, 2014
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I’m in the quality department of a large company and I’ve heard you say quality is the worst enemy of quality. I find this offensive, but I’m willing to keep an open mind. How would you back up such an outrageous statement? More »
Does quality really come first?
By: Ballé, Michael | July 22, 2013
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I’ve been practicing lean for many years and have learned to create flow and one-piece-flow. However I still struggle with quality problems. I hear that quality comes first, but face many challenges trying to put this phrase into practice. What’s your take on this? More »
Gemba and Quality
By: Balle, Michael | February 1, 2012
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: We’ve made good progress on quality with Six Sigma, but we’ve reached a plateau. I’ve met a lean consultant who tells me I should spend more time on the shop floor, but I fail to see how it would improve quality? More »
Why is Flow Easy, and Quality Hard?
By: Ballé, Michael | March 4, 2011
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: My lean team has become proficient at teaching flow but it's not gaining traction when it comes to quality issues. Do you have any recommendations? More »
Robert Cole's Observations on the Liker-Shook Dialogue regarding Toyota's Quality Crisis
By: Shook, John | March 2, 2010
Columns; eLetters
I have previously introduced readers of this column to Robert Cole, Professor Emeritus at Berkeley, former long-time professor at the University of Michigan, and currently Visiting Researcher at Doshisha University in Kyoto. I hope some of you saw the PBS video linked in last week's column that featured Bob in an insightful interview about the significance of NUMMI. More »
What Role Should a Quality Department Play in a Lean Organization?
By: Ballé, Michael | December 16, 2009
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: How can you improve quality overall while reducing the number of people who are developing policies, supporting training, and doing their best to help the folks who are on the shop floor doing the work? What IS the relationship between the quality department, the quality management system, and overall quality? Does the quality management system even have a place in a lean organization? More »
Standardized Work is a Goal To Work Toward, Not a Tool to Implement
By: Jeffrey Liker | January 5, 2021
Columns
Standardized work can be an ugly thing in the hands of control-oriented bureaucrats and a beautiful thing when it enables creativity and continuous improvement, says Jeff Liker, adding that enabling bureaucracy takes more effort, but it is worth it. More »
Avoid the Costly Work of Rework
By: Rose Heathcote | October 19, 2020
Columns
Customers care only for the product or service they receive, says Rose Heathcote. They're not interested in how much effort it took for you to make it happen or how many times you had to fiddle with it to get it right. They're also not interested in what it cost you. So, we cannot make our lumpy processes their problem. More »
Enduring Lessons from The Birth of Lean
By: Tom Ehrenfeld | August 26, 2020
Columns
Lean was never conceived as a new and comprehensive system designed to replace conventional enterprise. Rather, as shown in The Birth of Lean, it evolved over years, and then decades, to become what we know it as today. More »
Beware the Comforts of Waste
By: Rose Heathcote | August 13, 2020
Columns
After a major move, lean thinker Rose Heathcote reflected that with lean thinking comes the responsibility to look inward at oneself before looking outward to what must change in the organization. It may sit in the fundamental thinking we have adopted regarding business and costs, but it also gets more personal in how we treat and nurture our talent. More »
Now is the Time for Resilience and Adaptability!
By: Sandrine Olivencia | June 12, 2020
Columns
People and organizations can create the conditions for building their own resilience by drawing from TPS, the Thinking People System, says Sandrine Olivencia. But for this to work, leaders still need to put in the necessary energy: the will to examine the facts as they are and to give their teams the space for experimenting and making their contributions. More »
Developing Awareness on the Gemba
By: Sandrine Olivencia | April 8, 2020
Columns
Lean Sensei Sandrine Olivencia shares practical advice on ways to be present and to coach in the moment at the gemba More »
Building the Mindset and Skillset to Improve from the Board Room to the Classroom
By: Pat Greco | March 4, 2020
Columns
Results matter, says Pat Greco; and yet, human systems require leaders to engage.   Here she discusses the way she and her team worked to apply lean for improvement at the School District of Menonomee Falls in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. More »
Why We Believe that Pull Flows Are Too Often Overlooked
By: Lean Sensei Women | January 29, 2020
Columns
In this incisive series of articles on the essential value of pulled flow, the lean sensei women argue, in the words of Catherine Chabiron, that pulled flows are not just a manufacturing fad. It is the only way we know to dig deeper into our jobs, collaborate better, and eventually face all the real problems. More »
Want Better Relations and Results from Suppliers? Hear Two Execs Explain the Benefits of "Matched Pair” Leadership
By: Susan DeSandre, Chet Marchwinski and Jim Morgan | October 18, 2019
Columns
New products and service development does not stop at the exterior walls of your company. Outside suppliers play critical roles, but the relationships between companies and suppliers are often akin to cage fighting. That's where the innovative “matched pair” process comes in to dramatically improve relationships as well as business performance. Listen to a matched pair of executives describe the process. More »
KAIZEN CHALLENGE: Lean Technical and Social Quiz
By: Jeff Smith | June 26, 2019
Columns
In this kaizen challenge, lean coach Jeff Smith invites you to help determine the optimal lot size to run through assembly. Please share your thoughts! More »
Tales Of Lean, Chapter One: Facing the Problem
By: Sandrine Olivencia | June 24, 2019
Columns
What is the best way for a lean coach to support and guide her team? In this fictional tale of a lean leader, Sandrine Olivencia tees up questions raised by this story of how a company founder can best lead her team through a key challenge for the company. More »
Sometimes Less Lean is Mo' Lean
By: Brent Wahba | May 6, 2019
Columns
After seeing a great concert by blues legend Keb' Mo', Brent Wahba reflected on some lean principles embodied in the ways this event delivered such joy. More »
Showing Respect: Here's How Emmanuel Proposed A More Reliable Shipping Rack
By: Joel Daly | March 11, 2019
Columns
As I reflect on Emmanuel's proposed countermeasures to a key problem, I am encouraged with every new discovery, says General Manager Joel Daly of Veada. I need to get past the gulping and dread associated with someone responsibly reporting a problem to me, and instead embrace the opportunity therein. More »
Jishuken, Part Two: The Power of Self-Learning
By: Mark Reich | October 11, 2018
Columns
Consider Jishuken to be an intensive effort to drive individuals and the organization to a higher level, says Mark Reich, noting that if done right, this practice should push everyone to do more and more, improving in cycles of intense, focused effort with something that leaves a strong residue of kaizen spirit behind and allows the company to sustain. More »
2019 Designing the Future Summit
September 26, 2018
Events
2019 Designing the Future Summit. June 27-28, 2019 - Traverse City, Michigan. A unique event for designers, product, process, and quality engineers, supply chain professionals, and development leaders as well as thought leaders to come together, learn from each other. More »
What personal qualities should I work on to improve my practice of lean?
By: Ballé, Michael | August 6, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: What personal qualities should I work on to improve how I practice lean? More »
Ask Art: Why Do I Need to Switch From Batch to Flow?
By: Art Byrne | April 12, 2018
Columns
Moving from batch to flow reveals the waste in your processes and simplifies your work at a systems level, says Art Byrne. It creates simplicity, and a productive tension to deal with problems as they occur, as well as other strategic benefits. More »
The Battle for the Soul of Lean
By: Michael Ballé | March 16, 2018
Columns
When elements of lean management began to infiltrate management ranks decades ago, a “great divide” quickly formed, according to author and lean practitioner Michael Ballé. Some managers looked at it as a radically different, disruptive, but complete business system. Others saw it as a set of tools for operational excellence. The gulf endures and determines what results you get. More »
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