Well that’s a novel idea…
But it’s not as simple as it may sound. How do you lean out a quality approach that can work on the shop floor (maybe even compatible in a healthcare environment as well)? How does it look? What should you include?
Throughout my career in manufacturing there has always been at some point a concerted push to squeeze out and eliminate Quality resources. It’s a cyclic pattern that is often especially prevalent or triggered when the company’s financials are starting to tank and Operations has to chop out overhead quickly.
Does this sound familiar to anyone?
Over the last eight to nine years I’ve applied and continuously refined an approach to help Quality anticipate, tackle and address the potential impact of these types of situations before they occur. It takes the form of a formula that embeds seven elements into the work-environment design to instill quality. These elements don’t necessarily require quality specialists to do them; in many cases it’s just team members applying a quality mindset with added tools and behaviors to build quality into their daily work.
I call this “Quality Basics” because that is exactly what it is: fundamental elements of a quality system that can ensure built-in quality with ownership. It’s a term I very much adopted from Toyota’s cookbook way back when I worked as a supplier to that OEM. I took some of their secret sauce combined with other experiences and creating my own version.
So what are these seven elements?
- First-off product verification
- Quality checks embedded into the team members’ standardized work, coupled with Stop-Call-Wait behavior when in doubt
- Segregation and visual containment of non-conforming material (suspect product)
- Change point management (emphasis on quality verification after unplanned events)
- Control and verification of reworked product (or deviated processes)
- Poka-yoke/error-proofing device verification (they actually do work as intended, not turned “off”)
- Use of a quality wall at a new product/ equipment launch (very limited time and volume)
What I’ve included here may not necessarily be new to a lot of people, especially those who have worked in a quality role. But you truly have to package and deliver this in a particular manner to engage and foster acceptance. It is also staggering just how many businesses do the above poorly, and then wonder why they have upset customers or are still seeing waste and defects despite their investment in quality.
Not every business can afford the luxury of a quality department, but they are still expected to make a quality product, provide a quality service and deliver customer satisfaction. These elements can deliver that if adopted and sustained.
Take a look at your business and go see if these seven elements actually exist and work – it could be your next opportunity for improvement, waiting to be grasped. Look to my new sketch and animation for more.