Quality (def.) = Conformance to requirements [the customer's] or Standards
ISO Quality Definition = "Quality is fitness for purpose"
W. Edwards Deming - statistician who worked at Bell Labs after Second World War and introduced the idea of Statistical Process Control (SPC).
Deming's argument -- Quality problems lie in variability which is of two kinds:
Common variability is direct responsiblity of management.
- Special Variability caused by a particular staff person or machine.
- Common Variability applies to the whole operation.
Deming introduced the use of SPC charts (control charts) to measure variability and to identify its causes. This process involves taking regular measurements at various stages of a process and then interpreting the results to learn and correct the causes of variability.
Deming also developed the PDCA cycle:
The PDCA was novel when it was introduced as it placed responsibility on management for quality.
Deming's ideas were first adopted by Japanese and credited with improving Japanese products so much that they became a world leader. After that, U.S. companies became interested but Deming's ideas less successful there. Deming said it was because of the "seven deadly diseases" which stifled American competitiveness and quality. These became incorporated into Deming's 14 key points:
A number of books by Deming are available (most recent, 1986) but he doesn't have a very readable style. A useful overview of his work is that by Walton (1991).
- Constancy of purpose directed to improving products and services with aim of staying competitive, staying in business and creating employment.
- Accepting new economic order -- that is, recognizing that we are in a world economy and that leadership will emphasize change.
- Stop inspecting for quality. Rather, build quality into the product or service from the outset.
- Stop competing on price alone. Rather, look at the total cost and seek to minimize that. Develop long-term relationships with a limited number of suppliers based on loyalty and trust.
- Constant improvement. Keep improving the system of production and service delivery so that quality will be continuously improved and costs reduced.
- On-the-Job Training
- Replace supervision with leadership -- Help and enable people and equipment to do a better job.
- Drive out fear, so that everyone works effectively in a secure environment for the good of the company.
- Break down interdpartmental barriers within an organization so that everyone works as a team and tries to foresee and forestall problems which may occur at any stage.
- Stop using slogans and exhortations directed at workforce. The real problems lie with the system and are beyond the power of the workforce to correct. Slogans and targets create adversarial relationships which harm overall productivity.
- Eliminate management by objectives and by numerical goals. Substitute leadership for work quotas.
- Remove barriers that prevent people from taking pride in their workmanship.
- Education and training. Introduce a vigorous program of education and training with emphasis on self-improvement.
- Get everyone involved in process of transforming the organization into a quality company.
Tom Peters is another list-maker. Some of his most famous books are In Search of Excellence, 1982 and A Passion for Escellence, 1985.
Peters' eight principles -- many of which you will recognize are as follows:
- "A Bias for action" -- Avoid lengthy discussion and debate, instead DO something.
- Stay close to customers. Find out what customer wants and likes and concentrate on providing that.
- Create smaller units. Encourage the formation of smaller groups or companies and give them autonomy to pursue their own inventiveness.
- Productivity comes through people. Everyone in organization needs to be aware that company's success depends on them and that they can share in the company's success.
- "Hands on, value driven". Senior executives must stay close to company's essential business and not get out of touch with what is going on the 'shopfloor' or with feelings and reactions of customers.
- "Stick to the knitting". Companies should concentrate on their core business, doing what they are good at, rather than diversifying to a range of activities which bear little relationship to the core. Identify what business you are in and stick to it.
- Keep staff structures simple and lean. Do away with complex hierarchies in favor of flatter structures with few layers. Keep number of executives to a minimum.
- Simultaneously promote looseness and tightness. There needs to be tolerance for staff yet dedication to the core values of the company.