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  #1  
Old 27th July 2005, 07:31 AM
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Question What is the most under-rated, or over-rated, quality tool or technique?

I was just reading a recent thread which mentioned CuSum charts, and it reminded me of what an incredibly useful tool they can be. For example, their ability to detect small, sustained changes means they can be applied retrospectively to data to determine whether an observed shift in process mean was sudden (step change) or gradual.

CuSums have loads of uses, and yet I would guess that most people, even those who have received some form of training on the subject, have never used them in anger.

Which got me thinking...

Of the quality tools and techniques we are exposed to, is there one that you believe is really under-rated? (i.e. it should be promoted and used much more than it is)

Conversely, are there any tools which you feel get too much attention and are subsequently relied upon more than they really should be?

So, what tools are "hidden gems", and which are more like the "Emperor's New Clothes"?

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Old 27th July 2005, 07:44 AM
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IMHO six sigma is the new cash cow....many people will make money from it but it will never aid in or produce anything. I am sorry if I have offended all those people with pretty belts BUT how does it help my company produce a quality product??? How do any of these things aid in the production of a quality product??? How does the standard help in producing quality products???? They don't and neither do any of the other TOOLS. The standard has never helped us to produce quality product. I can have the BEST QA system in the world but still produce rubbish albeit rubbish that will be recorded, tracked, logged, tested and placed in a QA Holding area but the standard does not stop me from producing it nor does it prevent me from telling everyone that I am a certified company. Give me a TOOL that guarantees that I make good product or a standard that actually helps my product and I will gladly pay the dollars.

No doubt this will ruffle some feathers so letís see them fly

PS: Still having a bad day after auditing two suppliers that are both certified and both produce rubbish service. Their paperwork is nice and in order though. I'm getting closer to the 600 whoopie!

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Old 27th July 2005, 08:24 AM
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Six Sigma, hands down. I hadn't seen that much hype over nothing since the Lions brought in Scott Mitchell as Quarterback!!!

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Old 27th July 2005, 08:36 AM
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Another vote for Six Sigma.

I remember my father calling me a few years ago to ask me what 6S was, as his company had just announced they were sending him to black belt training. Once I explained it to him, neither of us could stop laughing Ė the product his company makes is the LEAST likely candidate for 6S. Itís a commodity. Product variability doesnít matter, thereís really no such thing as a defect, and quality is really what his company decides it is. Sure, thereís room for process improvements, but that one week a month he spent at black belt class could have been better dedicated to something more like a kaizen event.

But of course, somebody at corporate decided 6S was going to be HUGE to improve their product quality.

Oh well, at least his company invested $25,000 in his training, he got to spend one week a month at a nice hotel in a sunny location, and they paid for my Mom to go with him.
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Old 27th July 2005, 08:50 AM
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I think Pareto charts are the most under used, and can be a major asset in defining areas for improvement, and where to get the biggest bang for the buck. Convert information to dollars for more attention.

As for over valued I guess i will also say Six Sigma.

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Old 27th July 2005, 08:56 AM
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What makes this an interesting question is the fact that the most under-utilized tool, and the most valuable, is the reason for the overrated ones. I'm talking about leadership. It's lack of leadership, and the intellectual lethargy of managers in general, that results in the never-ending procession of pseudoclever would-be panaceas such as Six Sigma. The illusion is that the tool can somehow magically accomplish the transformation on its own, and if it doesn't, don't worry because like city buses, there'll be another one along in a few minutes and everyone can hop aboard.

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Old 27th July 2005, 09:05 AM
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Since the original thread question refers to tools and techniques, I would say that six-sigma is neither a tool nor a technique. That's part of the problem with it. At the very least, it is simply a statistic, and at its broadest sense, a "program"? .

As far as specific tools, under/over rated, I'll throw in the following:

Over-rated) Balanced Scorecards, Cause & Effects diagrams (fishbone), FMEA (in its present form; there are better ways), Pareto Analysis (at least the graphing of it).

Under-rated)
Affinity diagrams, correlation analysis (scatter, regression), DOEs (esp. Taguchi Methods) and ANOVA & ANOM, Response Surface Methodology (EVOP), Multi-Vari charts, IS/IS NOT matrices, storyboards, Voice of the Customer (QFD), and last but not least - the "Operational Definition" techniques which must precede all 8Ds.

I did not include many of the staple tools which are very useful, but most people know them and use them, like control charts, GR&R, flowcharting, brainstorming, etc. Also, the tools I listed are simply based on my experience as far as what has worked well and what was more hype than substance. IMHO.

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Old 27th July 2005, 09:11 AM
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I am going to have to agree with Ralph on Pareto charts. So simple and elegant, yet they can be very effective. If we are going to try to improve something, why not figure out where to best expend our efforts? What a concept!

When it comes to 6S, I am afraid I am going to have to split hairs a bit. The question refered to A tool, not a tool SET. Add to that the fact that there is some disagreement (I believe) on just which tools are included in the set, and the water just gets a little muddier. So, while I do agree with the spirit of much that has been said here about the subject, I cannot choose 6S as the answer.

My answer for the over-rated tool may surprise some, so please read all of what I will say before flaming me or writing me off as yet another crackpot. I think that, AS THEY ARE APPLIED, X Bar and R charts are over rated. More correctly, they are misused, or used when they are really not the most appropriate way to approach a problem.

Because it is a convention, I am afraid that I have to plead guilty of this myself. It is simply too much trouble to try to explain why that type of chart is not the best approach, and it is simply too easy to plug and chug the data to make a pretty chart.
What type of problems am I talking about? Well, in many process indusrties the data is heavily auto coorelated. Try saying that to someone not familiar with the statistical basics. Also, sometimes people don't bother to look at where their data came from, and what it represents. Just plug and chug.

I guess what I am saying is that in statistics we make assumptions, such as normality of data and validity of the data set. Those of us who have had some training realize the limitations that these assumptions put on our results. Others do not, and can tend to take the results as the truth, leading to the proverbial wild goose chase.
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