14 Steps to Establish Process Improvement

This article is presented as part of an overview of the quality guru’s of the 1980’s. The 14 steps were develop by Mr. Philip Crosby and presented by Philip Crosby Associates. Reading “Quality Is Free”, “Quality Without Tears”, and “Quality Without Pain” are helpful in understanding how Mr. Crosby developed his philosophy and encouraged others to use it. For more information about Philip Crosby Associates, go to http://www.philipcrosby.com/pca/index.html.

Quality Councils guide the quality Improvement Process

Step 1 of the 14 Steps – Management Commitment for Process Improvement

Management must make clear where it stands on quality. Without top management commitment the process is doomed to failure (see “Four Ways a Quality Improvement Process Can Fail” and “Five Ways to Assure the Success of a Quality Improvement Process”).Top management must communicate it has a zero defect strategy if it wants a quality improvment process. The primary action to accomplish this is to write and communicate a Quality Policy. In ISO 9001 all documentation comes from the philosophy in the quality policy. This is the reason why that is so important.

Step 2 of the 14 Steps – Quality Improvement Team to Create Process Improvement

A framework is needed to coordinate the quality improvement process which is driven by the quality improvement team. This is the vehicle to remove roadblocks to progress and provides a formal communications medium to ensure the quality improvement efforts are coordinated throughout the company. Each department should have a representative on the team and a charter is needed. The team members take responsibility for one or more of the 14 steps. This team is not the problem solving team but manages the various activities associated with quality improvement throughout the company.

Step 3 of the 14 Steps – Measurement of Process Improvement

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. Measurement is the determination of the result. Teams measure the difference their changes have made. Measurement is done in simple terms of things (part XYZ) or events (shutdowns or recalls) and compared to past performance to see if it is a process improvement, no change or a deterioration.

Step 4 of the 14 Steps – Cost of Quality and Process Improvement

The Cost of Quality takes “things” and “events” and converts them to a common language – money. The group charged with making the change does not monetize their efforts this is done at a central level providing for consistency of costing. (see “The Cost of Quality”) Speaking in terms of money allows managment to justify the costs to create process improvement.

Step 5 of the 14 Steps – Quality Awareness as it Relates to Process Improvement

The purpose of Quality Awareness is to raise the personal concern felt by all employees toward the conformance of the product or service and the quality reputation of the company.[1] As Dr. Deming also said in his 14 points, we are all dependent on each other. Process improvment can not occur unless the entire team agrees it is needed.

Step 6 of the 14 Steps – Corrective Action for Process Improvement

Corrective Action Systems respond to 3 sets of rules – Input rules, Administrative rules, and output rules. Corrective action looks for systematic rather than anecdotal solutions. The process should have steps and be formalized throughout a company. They should be designed to eliminate compromising on conformance to requirements. Implement “Do It Right the First Time” to create process improvement.

Step 7 and 9 of 14 Steps – Zero Defects Planning and Zero Defects Day impact on Process Improvement

Zero Defects day is designed to be an event to create a personal experience for all employees so they know a permanent change, a process improvement, has been made. Management is committed and this is a process not a project. It will not go away.

Step 8 of 14 Steps – Employee Education Creates Process Improvement

All employees must understand the Absolutes of Quality so they can competently carry out their role in the quality improvement process. This means an education plan as well as reference documentation such as procedures and work instructions. Treat Suppliers as if they were employees when it comes to education.

Step 10 of 14 Steps – Goal Setting for Process Improvement

Total quality is achieved incrementally over time but in order to keep focused on process improvement it is important to establish realistic goals. Employees must participate in the goal setting and have a say in what can be accomplished in a defined timeframe.

Step 11 of 14 Steps – Error Cause Removal in Process Improvement

Employees have to be able to communicate roadblocks to accomplishing quality improvement process. Communication must flow in both directions; management must make expectations clear and employees must define issues and concerns that they believe will prevent them from being successful. The process to do so should be simple and formal with procedures  and assigned responsibilities to address employee concerns.

Step 12 of 14 Steps – Recognition of Process Improvement Efforts

Everyone needs to know their hard work was recognized. A quality improvement process must include a formal program to recognize both individuals and groups for their actions which create quality improvement.

Step 13 of 14 Steps – Quality Councils for Process Improvement

The purpose of this step is to bring together the appropriate people to share information that may benefit other areas of the company. In a large company with multiple divisions it could be a periodic meeting of the quality managers. They must also audit the quality improvement process for effectiveness and be will to go to management if the system is not functioning as planned.

Step 14 of 14 Steps – Do It All Over Again for Continuous Process Improvement

A quality improvement process never ends. It must be a permanent management responsibility. The focus must be to always satisfy the customer. At this time the Quality Improvement team changes although at least one member of the old team must stay on to provide information and continuity in the quality improvment process.

 

 



[1] “Quality Improvement Process Management College Manual” @1987 pg 4-6-1 “Purpose”

Do It Right The First Time – DIRTFT

DITRTFT or “Dirt foot” generally brought giggles but it served the purpose of grabbing people’s attention. The anachronism stood for “Do It Right the First Time”. The statement seems almost ludicrous in today’s business environment, but is it?

DIRTFT means Do It Right the First Time where "It" is the customer requirements.

What is the “It” in Do It Right the First Time?

“It” quite simply is the customer requirements. However, simple is not so simple. The customer requirements must be clearly defined and communicated. This is done with drawings and specifications but also must be considered when developing procedures and training programs, performing Failure Mode and Effect Analysis, and reviewing process capabilities.

At one plant where I worked, the customers were getting consistently non-conforming material. They were furious and they had a right to be. The problem had been going on for more than a year. The problem was not that the employees were making non-conforming product, or the tooling had not been maintained of the process capabilities were poor. The problem came when a dimension was transferred from a customer drawing to a working drawing and was reversed. As soon as we corrected the drawings, modified the tooling to manufacture to the drawings and gave the information to the operator to check the product, we went from 100% non-conformance to 100% conformance to requirements. Not following Do It Right the First Time can be caused anywhere in the process, not just at the operator level.

The Attitude of Do It Right the First Time

Have you ever had an employee say something along the lines of “Hey, I just do what I’m told and keep my head down and my mouth shut.” Do It Right the First Time does not even enter this picture. Creating an atmosphere where employees feel free to speak up when they see a problem or have a question is the first step in creating an atmosphere that supports “Do It Right the First Time.” In today’s economy with high unemployment, management must work overtime to make sure the negative attitude does not invade their facility. What are you doing to make sure your company employees have an attitude to “Do It Right the First Time”?

The Cost Of Quality

The Cost of Quality Report let's everyone see where money is being thrown away

The Cost of Quality Changes the Perceptions

Mr. Philip Crosby’s Cost of Quality report made a fundamental difference in the way Quality Managers spoke to upper management. Prior to the Cost of Quality report, Quality Managers were the keepers of “goodness”. They spoke in terms of reputation and subjective measures that frequently detracted, or appeared to detract from bottom line profitability. It caused much of upper management to “tune out” when the Quality Manager spoke.

The Cost of Quality Report quantifies the impact of both the cost of poor quality and the cost of preventive measures. With this report, Quality Managers were now able to speak upper management’s language of money. Decisions could be made on facts not emotions or corporate politics. It tied in well with Deming’s philosophies of resource allocation and the use of statistical process control.

In 1987, the price of conformance was about 5% of the total Cost of Quality; The price of non-conformance was about 25% of the Cost of Quality; and the cost of doing things right the first time was 70% of the Cost of Quality.

The Parts of the Cost of Quality report

 The Price of Non-conformance in the Cost of Quality Report

The Price of Non-conformance portion of the Cost of Quality report was fairly straight forward. Quite simply “what it cost to do things wrong.” It included:

  • reprocessing,
  • expediting,
  • unplanned service,
  • computer re-runs (remember this is the days of big mainframes and computer reports were requested during the day and run at night),
  • inventory,
  • customer complaints,
  • service after service,
  • downtime,
  • reconciliation,
  • and warranty.

This opened management’s eyes to profit opportunities. They were already spending this money, what if they could eliminate these costs and shift these dollars to the bottom line?

The Price of Conformance in the Cost of Quality

Measuring what was spent to make things correctly was a new concept. It was the cost to get things done right the first time. Inspection, engineering, preventive maintenance were just a cost of doing business. The idea that these needed to be looked at and justified opened the door to a revolution in the way management viewed costs.  The Price of Conformance included:

  • Review
  • Checking (Inspection)
  • Audit
  • Quality education
  • Test
  • Process proving
  • Procedure verification
  • Prevention
  • Inspection

The concept that collecting, reviewing and acting on these cost would lower them over time was revolutionary. By drawing attention to and reviewing these costs, corrective action could be defined and implemented.

How Much the Cost of Quality Report Identified

The first phase of the Cost of Quality would identify 60-70% of the actual costs and be driven from top management down. Once Quality Improvement Processes were implemented 90% of the actual costs would be identified with improvements in accuracy from that point forward. This information would come from the bottom up.The initial proposal had the Finance department issuing the Cost of Quality report. The course work gave detailed lists of data for each department to track and report.

Steps to implementing the Cost of Quality Report

In order to implement the Cost of Quality Report the first step was to educate managers and employees. The second step was to identify the elements by department. The third step was to give complete individual descriptions to the elements so everyone was using the same point of view. The fourth step was to determine a measurement base. The fifth step was to design the report including format, frequency and distribution. The sixth and last step was to develop and implement a strategy to utilize the Cost of Quality Report effectively.

The Purpose of the Cost of Quality Report.

The purpose of the Cost of Quality Report was not to account for every loss but rather to be a management tool that was used to determine areas that needed corrective action and to measure quality improvement. It was a basic communication tool that had everyone speaking the same language – money. So what could a Cost of Quality Report do for your company?

How Come Hardly Anything Ever Gets Better? The Case for Quality Improvement.

How do you create quality improvement?

Quality Improvement from the Quality College

In 1987, I had the privilege to attend the Quality College in Winter Park, FL. It was a highly informative week and I have kept the binder and used it as a reference ever since, although I haven’t gone back to it for a few years.

When I started to develop a page for the teachings of Philip Crosby I pulled out the binder and reviewed the material. Near the back I found a letter from Philip Crosby titled “How come hardly anything ever gets better?” A similar question was posted on LinkedIn so it seemed a good place to start.

Mr. Crosby’s first point was that no one, not the powerful or the powerless were against quality improvement. All of his books, speeches and educational material showed the financial fact that doing things right the first time cost less than doing things wrong and fixing them. Products, services, prisons, morals, the judiciary, Congress, movies, taxis – just about everything needs improvement.

Since everyone was in favor of improvement and opportunities abound, there should be an epidemic of things getting better. That begged the question; why is hardly anything getting better?

Who is Responsible for Quality Improvement?

Mr. Crosby came up with 3 basic reasons:

  1. The highest paid and most talented people in a company do not work on improvement. They produce strategy books, planning manuals, marketing reports, five year plans etc that are shown like merit badges but are not used or implemented. Everyone is working hard on things that make little difference.
  2. People who understand a subject do not get help in determining a policy for improvement. Nationally known consumer advocate groups have no experience in quality management. Most business media experts talk about quality and yet their experience is limited. Getting a common definition of “quality” would be difficult and it has been overlaid with emotion.
  3. 3.      Management and labor do not understand each other. There are very few members of management that have ever actually done the work they supervise. Motivation of the workers is the most popular theme for quality improvement programs. Yet it is management that needs to realize they are the cause of the problems by the way they manage. Union management falls into the same boat as company executives.

The Results of Quality Improvement

Companies that create a renaissance in terms of changing management operating attitudes have drastically improved their products and services and reaped the reward to the bottom line. Companies have already paid for quality, isn’t it time they should get what is coming to them?

Has There Been Quality Improvement?

As I read the letter in many ways I agreed with Mr. Crosby. However looking back over the past 25 years, I also realized that we have come a very long way in large part thanks to Mr. Crosby, Dr. Deming, Dr Juran and Dr. Shewhart. So I invite you to comment. What improvements have you seen? Are things getting better or is hardly anything getting better?

Point 14 – Top Management Commitment to Action

Clearly define top management’s permanent commitment to ever improving quality and
productivity, and their obligation to implement all of these principles. Indeed, it is not enough that top management commit themselves for life to quality and productivity. They must know what it is that they are committed to—that is, what they must do. Create a structure in top management that will push every day on the preceding 13 Points, and take action in order to accomplish the transformation. Support is not enough: action is required!

Dr. W. Edwards Deming

What is Management’s Job – Commitment to Action

One of my father’s favorite sayings was, “lead, follow or get out of the way”. Management’s job is to lead. There must be a commitment to constant and on-going improvement. Each and every morning, management must look at their operation and decide what needs improvement and make a commitment to take action.

The Price of Failed Commitment to Action

If management does not make a commitment to constant and on-going improvement, it
will not happen. Management does not have to implement  the change but they must lead the change or their employees will end up building internal empires or chasing projects with
a lower value to the company.

Part of creating this commitment is developing a structure that guides the employees to
an on-going commitment of improvements in quality and productivity. Management must establish a system, indicate its’ importance to the company and demonstrate their own commitment to constantly and forever improving. It does not have to be fancy, but management must believe and support it.

The Call for Commitment to Action

There is a childhood chant, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will
never hurt me.” I wish it were true. How many suicides were prompted by cruel words? Words have power, the power to build up or the power to tear down.When management stands up and says “this is who we are and this is what we stand for” it can change the world.

My first job was with an ethical pharmaceutical company. We had a simple rule,
“Would you want your child to take this medicine?” If the answer was no, we threw it away. Every person on the line had the ability to call the supervisor and point out a problem. Each and every person on that line knew the importance of what they did and that attitude came from the top down. The VP of manufacturing walked through the plant several times a day and any operator
could stop him with a question or a concern. We had power and pride.

So what are you going to do, lead, follow or get out of the way?

Point 13 -Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks – Encourage Education

 

Old dogs like to learn new tricks

If you stop training with the basics you will get a bored and desctructive dog and employee

Encourage education

Institute a vigorous program of education, and encourage self improvement for everyone. What an organization needs is not just good people; it needs people that are improving with education. Advances in competitive position will have their roots in knowledge.

Dr.W. Edwards Deming

Education the antidote to boredom

One of the interesting things I love about training in German Shepherds is they love to learn. It takes about two years to get one to search ready status but that
is only the begin. If you try to stop there, you will get a bored and probably
destructive dog. Instead we train new skills; air scent, then tracking,
obstacles, human remains, evidence articles, the list is as long as your imagination. The dogs love it and the benefit to the search team is a strong and capable canine with the ability to always get the job done no matter what the job is.

People aren’t that much different. Someone who does the same tasks year after year without change can get bored and stale. Providing regular and varied education keeps a person’s mindsharp. When it comes time for someone to come up with a new idea the person who you trained will most likely be the one to come up with the answer.

Encourage Education in the Hourly Workforce

  My first job as a production supervisor was an education in itself. I had one employee that was intelligent and articulate but kept making serious mistakes. This was a person I wanted to promote and instead I was regularly writing up violations for the silliest of mistakes. It was coming to the point where I was going to have to terminate this individual. As I reviewed his personnel file, I found a note he had written giving a friend permission to pick up the employee’s paycheck. I started to see a glimmer of the problem. The next day I had the man read a procedure and sign off that he had read and understood it. He made a good show of taking time on each page and flipping pages. As he tried to make his exit from my office, I had him sit down and we discussed the procedure. It didn’t take long for us both to know he couldn’t read. I got him signed up with literacy volunteers and it wasn’t long before the problems we had been experiencing went away. Encouraging education made the difference for both the employee and the company.

Encourage Education in the Salaried Workforce

As a person gains experience, it can be difficult to find courses being offered in their field where they should be the student. In more than a few cases, I’ve taken courses where the professor posted their credentials and I realized my credentials were better. I could leave and demand my money back or I could sit there and listen. When I have chosen to sit and listen, I generally find a kernel of wisdom I hadn’t thought of. It generates a whole new train of thought that just may solve a problem I’ve been working on. I also started studying Spanish, I don’t think translators jobs are in jeopardy but thinking in a new language helps me come up with a new perspective. Encourage education for both your employees and yourselfto reap long term benefits.

Point 12 – Pride of Workmanship is Power

Pride of Workmanship is Power

Permit pride of workmanship
Remove the barriers that rob hourly workers, and people in management, of their
right to pride of workmanship. This implies, among other things, abolition of
the annual merit rating (appraisal of performance) and of Management by
Objective. Again, the responsibility of managers, supervisors, foremen must be
changed from sheer numbers to quality.

Dr.W. Edwards Deming

The Never Ending Motivator – Pride of Workmanship

There was a Disney movie about the Jamaican bobsled team, titled “Cool
Runnings”. One of the characters, Junior, lacked self-confidence. He
lacked pride in workmanship. One of his teammates gave him guidance. He had
Junior look into the mirror and see “pride” and “power” and a “crazy [person] that
didn’t take nothing from nobody”. It was a turning point for both Junior and
ultimately the team. Creating that kind of pride in workmanship in employees is
the most effective thing a manager can do.

The manager doesn’t need to stand over the operator or pour through charts to see
if the employee did it right. The manager could go play golf because the person
with pride of workmanship is making the best part possible without supervision.

Instilling Pride of Workmanship

When I worked in pharmaceuticals, pride of workmanship was the first thing we
instilled. We simply asked each employee to ask themselves one question;
“Would you want your loved one to take this particular bottle of medicine?”. If the answer was “no”, we didn’t want to sell it
because someone’s loved one would be taking it.

I’ve had clients say to me, yes but something like medicine is easy to create pride in workmanship but our
product isn’t. Generally, I ask them where is the product used and if it fails
what is the worst that can happen. A plastic disposable cover can be sharp and
cut the user or provide a choking hazard. A component in a car or truck or
school bus can fail and the vehicle could crash.

If you can do a Failure Mode and Effect Analysis, you have a tool for instilling pride of workmanship. If
the IT system fails will a company shutdown and put people out of work? If a
report is sloppy and sends management down a wrong path will the company close?
If a customer service rep is surly and the client goes somewhere else, what is
the long run impact on the company? It is the manager’s job to teach the
employee why they are important to the company and should take pride in
workmanship.

Killing Pride of Workmanship

Unfortunately, killing pride of workmanship is all too easy. Ignore an employee when they warn
you of a problem. Ta-da, pride in workmanship just took a major blow and
“I just keep my head down and my mouth shut and collect my pay”
becomes the attitude of the day. Give the employee bad tools, either machines
needing maintenance or reports filled with bad or missing information and the
result is a loss of pride in workmanship. Set an arbitrary goal the employee
can not possible achieve and you rob them of pride of workmanship. Tell the
employee to do a task, reprimand them if they do it wrong but don’t give them
the tools to measure and know if they did it right or wrong and frustration
will kill pride of workmanship. Killing pride of workmanship is way too easy.

You Matter = Pride in Workmanship

To create and maintain pride in workmanship in your staff, make sure they know
they matter. Listen if they tell you “there is a problem” and don’t
shoot the messenger. If they are wrong take the time to make sure they know why
it isn’t a problem.

Each time a manager helps to grow the understanding of an
employee in job knowledge, the manager creates pride in workmanship. The cost
is small, no big raise, no creative title, just recognition that the employee
makes a difference in the overall performance of the company.

When a manager creates pride in workmanship their employees they create the best sales tool in
the world – consistent high quality product. When an employee knows they are
creating high quality product their pride in workmanship increases and the
company reaps the benefit.

Point 9 – Are You Talking to Me?

Break down barriers

Break down barriers between departments and staff areas. People in different areas, such as Leasing, Maintenance, Administration, must work in teams to tackle problems that may be encountered with products or service.

Dr. W. Edward Deming

If you every want to see a head butting contest, put an experienced tool and die maker with a freshly graduated tooling engineer. If you don’t have a vested interest it can be entertaining. Certainly, I found it significantly enlarged my four letter word vocabulary.

The company faced an unacceptable defect level being generated from the tool. Root cause analysis guide us to a poor understanding, and therefore almost non-existent communication, between engineers and the tool makers. Each vocally attributed the problem to the other.

Our solution, have them trade positions for a day. The engineer got his hands dirty and once he got over being self-conscious actually had some fun running mills, lathes and all the other toys the tool maker used. The tool maker got to try his hand at CAD and got an earful of just how little information the engineer had to work with. Each came away from the project with respect for the other and the freedom to communicate instead of blame.

We started a program having new hire engineers working in the tool room and training toolmakers on the engineer’s toys. Each learned to respect the other. The groups went from snubbing each other in the lunch room to wearing a path in the floor tile between each others’ work stations.

Our next step introduced Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA). We now had people who were willing to work together instead of point fingers. As soon as we armed them with data and invited them to utilize their education and experience our quality made a geometric improvement. Where 3 sigma had been an unrealistic dream, we made the jump to 6 sigma and parts per million defect levels.

This break though came because we broke down barriers, increasing respect and communications. If we had started the FMEA without first developing respect between the participants our success would have been minimal.

Where are the communication barriers in your company?