Monday, October 7, 2019

7 Basic Quality Tools – Are they underrated?

By Al Norval (bio)

As I teach problem solving and observe people learning to problem solve according to the scientific method, I often see people struggling with the concepts of a hypothesis and the binary test of the hypothesis and with the rigor of the process. This is understandable as these are foreign concepts and new for most people.

It’s very rewarding to see people change as they grasp the mechanics and begin to apply them and then achieve remarkable results.

To start the problem solving process, we need to “To Grasp the Situation” to get an understanding of the problem and in many cases to actually be able to define the problem and then get to root cause. To do this we use the 7 Basic Quality Tools:

  • Process Maps
  • Tally Sheet
  • Fishbone Diagram
  • Histogram
  • Pareto
  • Run Chart
  • Scatter Plot

The strange thing I find is that people will all nod their heads and say they know how to use them but when asked to give examples in everyday situations they can’t. In fact, when pressed to use them in an actual problem, often they can’t.


Many times I have to stop the problem solving and take a time out to have the group focus on learning the basic quality tools before they get back to working on the problem.

Why is this?

Often they are seen as too simple. They must be easy to use. But like anything that looks easy, without practice and application, we never really learn how to use them.

Lean is about thinking according to the scientific method. The scientific method is based on data. The 7 Basic Quality Tools allow us to organize and understand data so we can apply the scientific method. They make visible the data that is the backbone of good problem solving. Without them, we’re just throwing solutions at the wall and hoping something will stick.

I believe every leader and every one working in a lean environment needs to be able to master these 7 Basic Quality Tools to the point where they can teach others. Evidence of their use should be easy to see in any organization.

Simple – yes

Underrated – absolutely!

For more information on the 7 Basic Quality Tools and other Lean tools, please see Lean Brain Boosters

Cheersl

Al


In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

What Does Leader as a Teacher Really Mean?
PDCA - the Pounding Heart Muscle of Life
Want to Make Better Decisions? Simplify…
How do Adults Learn?


Monday, September 23, 2019

What Does Leader as a Teacher Really Mean?

By Al Norval (bio)

Peter Drucker had a very useful definition of the role of Leaders saying that it was to:
  • Deliver business results
  • Build capability
  • Reinforce the values of the organization

The first one is obvious (to most) but how to deliver business results? The answer leads to the next bullet; leaders achieve business results by building the capability of their people so they can build capable processes. The last bullet is a restriction on how leaders achieve business results saying that results won’t be achieved by doing things which are inconsistent with the values of the organization.


In summary, leaders need to build the capability of their people in order to achieve the desired results.

How do leaders actually do this?

The easiest and most common way is to send people to training classes. This may be easy but often people have no idea why they are in training class and even worse have no idea on how to apply the learning after they get back. After a week or two, people retain little of the training and their behavior hasn’t changed at all.

How should leaders build the capability of their team?

By acting in the role of “Leader as a Teacher”. That means using the Socratic approach and asking questions, giving team members problems to work on, and most importantly giving team member’s time to work on these problems. My colleague, Pascal Dennis, has written several excellent blogs on the Socratic approach so I won’t dwell on it here. It’s the next steps of practice and time to practice that really make the difference. Assigning practice problems that involve a repetition of already attained skills, and don’t stretch a team members skill level will do nothing to further build their capability. All that happens is a reinforcement of current skill levels. Assigning problems that stretch team members but occasionally lead to failure results in great learning. Leaders need to be conscious of this as they assign problems but also need to give team members time to complete the problems and learn from their failures along the way. Capability is built over time and building the capability of an organization takes a true long term commitment.

It’s not practice that makes perfect, rather its deliberate practice that stretches people combined with time to practice and learn from failure under that guidance of a leader/ coach that makes perfect.

Cheersl

Al


In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

PDCA - the Pounding Heart Muscle of Life
Want to Make Better Decisions? Simplify…
How do Adults Learn?
Back to Basics – Visual Management


Monday, September 9, 2019

PDCA - the Pounding Heart Muscle of Life

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Plan-Do-Check-Adjust - so easy to say.

An inexperienced young fellow recently said to me, "PDCA is too easy. I need something more..."

At his age, I was thick too. The mist gradually cleared for me, as I'm sure it will for him.

My Toyota sensei once said, "Ten years to learn Plan, ten for Do, ten for Check and ten for adjust. I am beginning to understand PDCA now."


Forty years - for one the world's top auto executives.

There isn't much that's truly new. And there are eternal verities, like PDCA.

How often are we distracted, like crows, by the latest shiny object?

How many people are distracted by the latest get-rich-quick scheme -- Real Estate! Gold! Emerging Markets!

How many folks fall under the spell of latest & greatest motivational speaker?

Some of these may have merit in the short term.

But the real road to success is PDCA, the pounding heart muscle of the universe.

Inhale & exhale, expand & contract, wax & wane.

PDCA distinguishes us from the animals. It informs, or should inform, all human activity

So with all respect to Tom Robbins and Oprah, we already know the answer.

The 'silver bullet' is right in front of us. It's difficult, humbling work, but it works.

As we used to say at our old Toyota factory, "If you follow the recipe, you get a Big Mac every time..."

Best,

Pascal


In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Want to Make Better Decisions? Simplify…
How do Adults Learn?
Back to Basics – Visual Management
Back to Basics – Visual Order


Monday, August 26, 2019

Want to Make Better Decisions? Simplify…

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Developing and deploying strategy entails hundreds or even thousands of decisions in a given year.

How do we make better decisions? (Can we raise our decision-making accuracy to six sigma levels – 3.4 defects per million decisions?)

Start by simplifying the chess board. Eliminate trivial, marginal, unnecessary and wasteful activities and factors.


In Chess, if you’re up a pawn on a full chessboard, a sure path to victory is to gradually simplify.

Eventually, your pawn and King face the opponent’s King, and victory is close.

Simplification in business serves the same purpose – the essentials stand out in sharp relief.

We can begin to focus.

In our wired world, simplification is counter-intuitive. If we remove stuff from our chessboard, if we clean up our various ‘screens’, we feel we’re missing something.

(Our motto seems to be “A finger in every pie!”. But that leaves us with sticky fingers and a ruined pies!)

If you accept my premise, the next question is: “How do we simplify?”

An excellent start is to reflect and confirm our Purpose.

What are we trying to achieve? What’s our Shining City on the Hill?

Define Purpose with drawings, dashboards, words and music if need be. Purpose clear as crystal eases simplification.

In Chess, purpose is clear – checkmate the opponent’s King!

We have to make our business Purpose as clear, and then communicate it gently, engagingly and repeatedly.

Simplification inevitably follows.

Best,

Pascal


In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

How do Adults Learn?
Back to Basics – Visual Management
Back to Basics – Visual Order
Back to Basics – Employee Engagement