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Interview Question - Conflict between Production and Quality

tongxiaozhi

Involved In Discussions
#1
I am a quality guy. During an interview, the interviewer asked me how to deal with the conflict between production and quality. To be honest, I am not satisfied with my answer. The following is what said during the interview

1. Conflict means people care enough to disagree strongly, but, conflict should be positive and shouldn't be taken personally.

2. Conflict means we still have room for improvement, so we need to take it an improvement opportunity.

3. There are several sources of conflict between quality and production
(1) The standard is not clear. production needs to produce to fullfill the order ,but there is quality issue that is not defined in current control plan and work instruction, which a potential quality risk on customer side. In this case, quality department should re-define the standard and conduct a risk assessment to assess the potential risks.

(2) Current sandard is not being respected. In this case, quality should stick to the standard not compromise.

(3) Issue regarding purchased parts. Sometimes, production may complain a quality issue regarding purchased parts from supplier, but, actually, the problem may be caused by our own operations.


Kindly review my answers and give me some comments.

Thanks in advance.
 
#2
Fire the quality guy. :)

I think the quality department should be more of a help than a hinderance. While they are "responsible" for ensuring good parts they also have responsibility to make sure stuff ships on time, etc. So in the event a quality issue arises it is the quality managers job to figure out how to help. It could be perusing a deviation, checking measurements, helping fix the precession, etc. it shouldn't be just reject until it's "fixed."
 

tongxiaozhi

Involved In Discussions
#3
Fire the quality guy. :)

I think the quality department should be more of a help than a hinderance. While they are "responsible" for ensuring good parts they also have responsibility to make sure stuff ships on time, etc. So in the event a quality issue arises it is the quality managers job to figure out how to help. It could be perusing a deviation, checking measurements, helping fix the precession, etc. it shouldn't be just reject until it's "fixed."
Thank you very much.

I think your answer to this question is very good although in real life conflict between production and quality is unavoidable, sometimes, it can be very big.
 
#4
In my opinion your answer is actually quite good. It tries to be comprehensive and simple, but not superficial with a look at causes. Room for improvement: While the choice of wording is fitting for an answer to an external auditor, it could be phrased to sound more like a proactive support regarding the problems of the organization (like Golfman25 mentioned). Second, as there may be a lot of specifications that exceed the quality level that is actually needed because someone in the development was maybe a little too conservative and too far away from operations, you should be open to the possibility of re-defining the standard/specification in case of conflict, if the data and the risk assessment point that way...
 

Coury Ferguson

Moderator here to help
Staff member
Super Moderator
#5
I am a quality guy. During an interview, the interviewer asked me how to deal with the conflict between production and quality. To be honest, I am not satisfied with my answer. The following is what said during the interview

1. Conflict means people care enough to disagree strongly, but, conflict should be positive and shouldn't be taken personally.

2. Conflict means we still have room for improvement, so we need to take it an improvement opportunity.

3. There are several sources of conflict between quality and production
(1) The standard is not clear. production needs to produce to fullfill the order ,but there is quality issue that is not defined in current control plan and work instruction, which a potential quality risk on customer side. In this case, quality department should re-define the standard and conduct a risk assessment to assess the potential risks.

(2) Current sandard is not being respected. In this case, quality should stick to the standard not compromise.

(3) Issue regarding purchased parts. Sometimes, production may complain a quality issue regarding purchased parts from supplier, but, actually, the problem may be caused by our own operations.


Kindly review my answers and give me some comments.

Thanks in advance.
I think your answers are fairly good. I would address the "conflict" sort of like this:

It is everyone's responsibility to provide product that meets or exceeds customer's requirements. Therefore, I would consider a compromise to this effect: Since we both want to furnish product that meets customer's requirements. We have the same objectives even though yours might be more involved between the numbers, so if you meet the numbers, but the customer is not satisfied with the product, and wants to return it, your numbers mean nothing. You missed your numbers, because of the return of the product.

Just my suggestion on how I would answer this question.
 

SpinDr99

Involved In Discussions
#6
Agreed, your answers are quite good. However when you mention that Quality is not being respected, you give the impression of taking it personally which you previously stated that this should not happen. Look at things from a process approach, considering customer satisfaction, fit, form and function, as well as the overall impact of giving up the argument if the impact is not great. Consider the future relationship with Production personnel and don't make your case just to "win".
 

John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#7
I am a quality guy. During an interview, the interviewer asked me how to deal with the conflict between production and quality. To be honest, I am not satisfied with my answer. The following is what said during the interview

1. Conflict means people care enough to disagree strongly, but, conflict should be positive and shouldn't be taken personally.

2. Conflict means we still have room for improvement, so we need to take it an improvement opportunity.

3. There are several sources of conflict between quality and production
(1) The standard is not clear. production needs to produce to fullfill the order ,but there is quality issue that is not defined in current control plan and work instruction, which a potential quality risk on customer side. In this case, quality department should re-define the standard and conduct a risk assessment to assess the potential risks.

(2) Current sandard is not being respected. In this case, quality should stick to the standard not compromise.

(3) Issue regarding purchased parts. Sometimes, production may complain a quality issue regarding purchased parts from supplier, but, actually, the problem may be caused by our own operations.


Kindly review my answers and give me some comments.

Thanks in advance.
tongxiaozhi,

I see no conflict between production and quality.

Measuring production by including non-conforming product is not accurately measuring production. Non-conforming products don’t count towards production and worse still they have to be replaced.

Quality and production go hand in hand.

As quality professionals we help the people responsible for design, purchasing and production to appreciate the importance of them engaging their teams in planning, preparation and process management so they are assured of the required quality production.

Organizations that have historically relied on Q.C. sorting good products from bad (aka verifying the output) need a lot of help to adopt this new mindset.

The quality mindset prevents problems and maximizes production.

John
 

tongxiaozhi

Involved In Discussions
#8
tongxiaozhi,

I see no conflict between production and quality.

Measuring production by including non-conforming product is not accurately measuring production. Non-conforming products don’t count towards production and worse still they have to be replaced.

Quality and production go hand in hand.

As quality professionals we help the people responsible for design, purchasing and production to appreciate the importance of them engaging their teams in planning, preparation and process management so they are assured of the required quality production.

Organizations that have historically relied on Q.C. sorting good products from bad (aka verifying the output) need a lot of help to adopt this new mindset.

The quality mindset prevents problems and maximizes production.

John
Dear John,

Thanks for your response and I think your answer is every good. But in real life, conflicts exists. The relationship between production and quality was very testy in my previous company. For example, we once received a complaint from customer and organized a meeting to discuss root cause and corrective actions. While the production manager said we had followed the control plan and work instrutions given by quality and technical department, please don't ask me how to solve the problem because I am not reponsible". To be honese, I was not resourceful enough to convince him to be involved.
 

John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#9
Dear John,

Thanks for your response and I think your answer is every good. But in real life, conflicts exists. The relationship between production and quality was very testy in my previous company. For example, we once received a complaint from customer and organized a meeting to discuss root cause and corrective actions. While the production manager said we had followed the control plan and work instrutions given by quality and technical department, please don't ask me how to solve the problem because I am not reponsible". To be honese, I was not resourceful enough to convince him to be involved.
tongxiaozhi,

From an interview question to “real life”.

The real life scenario is a by-product of the relationship the production manager has had with quality. He thought he was jumping through your hoops to keep you happy and consequently does not see quality as his responsibility.

Instead of issuing control plans and work instructions to production, quality should engage production in the development of each plan and instruction so production can see how these plans help them to fulfill their objectives.

As quality professionals we have to have the visible support of top management to help others to deliver their work right the first time. In fact, production is responsible for quality while you’re responsible for helping top management to provide confidence that the requirements will be fulfilled.

Note here that production is responsible for quality and quality is responsible for QA (the preventive assurance of quality). By preventive I’m saying that quality focuses on the system that helps production to get their work right the first time. That system includes employee engagement in understanding and fulfilling requirements.

Had the top manager seen the disengaged production manager then TM would know that you’ve not been successful in getting this message across and would correct this by reminding both of you of your responsibilities.

Leaders recognize this situation as a “moment of truth” when the true ethos of the company is repaired or will lead to further production problems.

You may need a little more authority (delegated from the TM) to preventively engage production in developing their control plans and instructions to assure quality.

Meanwhile, production, you and the leader would work together to determine and remove the root causes of this and similar customer complaints.

John
 

John Predmore

Involved In Discussions
#10
Early in my new job as quality engineer, I arrived at the conference room for a meeting and one of the production engineers said sarcastically, “Great, now the Quality Police are here.”

I replied, “I’m not the police. You know what is expected of you. You’ll have to police yourself.” Then I added, “I am here to help you succeed. I will be your conscience.” I was rather proud that I came up with that comeback on the spot.

From then on, I was fondly referred to as “the conscience of the organization”. By dispelling what must have been a default adversarial role with quality, I opened a door with this engineer who soon became a close friend, and often came to me for assistance and advice.
 
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