Integration of Quality Function & Statistical Theory

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#1
Wallace suggested that we might create this thread to discuss the integration of Quality Function with Statistical Theory (ref. thread "Who are we?"). I second the motion...

To create a starting point, I am giving Wallace the opportunity to post the first item for discussion. Let the learning continue...
 
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WALLACE

Quite Involved in Discussions
#2
Thanks Kevin,
I have been involved with quality issues on and off for the last 15 years, in particular QMS issues and, I have come to the conclusion that QMS standards, be it ISO 9001 or others don't adequately address the issue of measuring quality inputs and outputs so as to facilitate measurable quality gains that may lead to continuous improvement of any given product, process, service or all. I am in the process of getting involved with some statistical training (for myself) through my current employer and, I have been fortunate enough to have access to many publications regarding this subject by noted authors such as Demming, Juran and Crosby and, I agree wholeheartedly that statistical techniques are and should be the backbone to any sound countinuous quality management system, what I would like to know is, why after all that Japan has been through to transform the way that they do business through the leading of Demming and others, why has traditional western management failed to see the benefits of the use of statistical thinking within business processes.
I do hope this makes sense.
Wallace.
 
M

Michael T

#3
Wallace,

I believe that a good many western managers fail to see the benefits of statistical thinking for several reasons: (please realize that these are broad generalizations - and not indicative of all managers)

1) Apathy - they cannot be bothered to learn the tools and methods of quality management.

2) Misunderstanding - they remember (or don't remember) statistics from either high school or college as being proofs, postulates and theorums, determining what the odds are a quarter will come up "heads" if flipped 20 times, etc., with little practical business application.

3) Fear - they are afraid that they won't understand the theories and tools of quality management and may end up looking foolish. Also, there is the fear of the unknown and fear of potential failure.

4) Culture - corporate culture tends to breed managers who are all too eager to grab at the low hanging fruit, but are unable or unwilling to set goals to try and attain that which may be slightly out of their grasp.

5) Short Sighted - By-and-large, western managers are very short sighted. They focus on the short-term rather than the long-term. This is very apparent in quarterly sales figures and bottom line or ROI management. Unfortunately, many quality projects are long-term in nature and require a long-term view to realize the major benefits of a quality system.

6) Bad press - many of the older managers remember the fiasco of the earlier attempts to implement "pieces" of a quality management system like quality circles, etc., without having a solid groundwork for those pieces to flourish as part of a whole quality system.

7) Instant gratification - it is not uncommon for managers to say, "I don't care how you do it, I just want it NOW!" This is not systems or process thinking.

8) Fear (part 2) - fear of change. Unfortunately, the saying goes, "if it isn't broken, don't fix it". However, a truly functioning quality program focuses on continuous improvement which requires constant change.

Ultimately, I believe that our business schools are not teaching enough in both the undergraduate and graduate levels with respects to the principles of quality management and systems thinking.

These are my thoughts.... anyone else care to join the fray?

Cheers!!!

Mike
 

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#4
Mike,

Well stated.

I think that a professional gambler has a better grasp of statistics than do most managers in business today. Their livelihood depends on this knowledge. Still, management is more an art than it is a science. Only by using statistical analysis do we gain the opportunity to change aspects of a manager’s work from an art to a science. By using statistics, we learn about the processes that make up a system, learn what reactions in the process produce the outcomes (common cause/assignable cause). Only under a stable process do we have the ability to make predictions about the outcomes. Unfortunately, the tools used in the Western Management philosophy are based on NUMBERS and not Statistical Data. The two are very different.

Back to the group…
 
M

Michael T

#5
Thanks Kevin,

Unfortunately, you are too right with respect to management being an art rather than a science.

What really irritates me is the lack of desire on the part of upper management to even learn the basic tools. They feel that if they have a QA Manager, he/she should be feeding them the answers to the problems. Oh sure, they say, "show me your data", but they don't understand what the data is telling them. More over, if they don't understand the problem, they certainly won't understand the proposed solution.

What is even more frustrating is the lack of simple statistical analysis on the shop floor. Production managers don't want to "burden" their people with things like data collection (let alone simple interpretation). Yet, how can they begin to understand the whole system (capability, capacity, constraints, bottle necks, etc.) if they don't have any data with which to refer? It is management by gut instinct...

Whew... sorry for the rant... I'm sure I'm not alone in my frustrations.

Cheers!!!

Mike
 

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#6
Mike,

Imagine the power an organization would find if they did use simple statistical analysis? Refining and art into a science would lead to insights about their processes and potentially to tremendous gains. Sadly, this is mostly in our dreams.

We, the Quality Function, are frustrated. No doubt about it. It is hard to watch an organization die of cancer as we may potentially hold the cure for it in our very hands. The fear of taking the cure, right now, out ways the fear of dieing from cancer. Change comes mostly from becoming uncomfortable with things as they are. Sadly, when they realize that they might need the cure (become uncomfortable), it is often too late.

As such, the Quality Function must educate top management about the benefits of Statistical Thinking. They must try to create change before it becomes to late for the potential cure to do its best. But it is important to note that it will take more than just statistics: it will also require profound knowledge.

Regards,

Kevin
 
E

energy

#7
Originally posted by Kevin Mader:
Mike,


We, the Quality Function, are frustrated. No doubt about it. It is hard to watch an organization die of cancer as we may potentially hold the cure for it in our very hands.

As such, the Quality Function must educate top management about the benefits of Statistical Thinking. But it is important to note that it will take more than just statistics: it will also require profound knowledge.


Kevin,
Just thought I'd drop in to see what goes on in this topic. I must say it is like something out of Alice in Wonderland. Like, educating the Queen of Hearts on "Statistical Thinking" and imparting "profound knowledge" could cost you your head. And the witnessing of cancer spreading through an organization while you hold the cure in your hands, must be very frustrating. Time to visit the Cheshire Cat and his little bag pipe full of happy stuff. My condolences.

energy
 

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#8
Sounds worse than it is. You can always eek out an existence under the prevailing style of Western Management...
 

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#10
I was reading in Peter Drucker’s latest management book that the greatest contribution to Quality Management since Fredrick Taylor’s contribution was the inclusion of Statistical Thinking introduced by Deming in the 1950s.
 
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