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Quality-related comments about politics, the economy, law, the environment, health, relationships, ethics and other socially relevant phenomena of the day

Please Visit MyQACoach.com; CAPAtrak is Being Retired

Posted by Diane Kulisek on June 22, 2016

MyQACoach.com logoTo loyal fans of downloads found via this Blog, you may have already realized that the CAPAtrak blog was a bit neglected.  The last post was in (horrors!) 2009.  Well, it is now 2016 and the world has changed.  Please note that the CAPAtrak Website and the CAPAtrak Blog will no longer be maintained effective 01 July 2016. Please visit, MyQACoach.com, for resources previously downloaded from these sites. You may also want to follow the MyQACoach.com LinkedIn Company Page to stay on top of new offerings. I will announce creation of the MyQACoach.com blog as soon as it becomes available.

Many of the downloads previously obtained via this blog have been updated, along with some newer resources for you to download, and are now available via Diane Kulisek’s showcase page, which is accessible via her profile on the MyQACoach.com website’s “About Our Team” page.  If you are seeking her Metrics Presentation, a Simple Dashboard Template, a Balanced Scorecard Template, Quality Plan examples and templates, including one for a Quality Planning SOP, or many free presentation materials, templates and tools for use in Root Cause Analysis (RCA) or Corrective Action and Preventive Action (CAPA) efforts, please visit Diane’s Profile and click on the link to “Learn more about Diane”, to find her Showcase Page.

Posted in Blogroll, Day-to-Day Observations, Philosophy and Metaphysics, Quality-Related LinkedIn Answers, Social Commentary, Tools and Methods, Science and Technology, Uncategorized, Websites | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Top Three Small Business Quality Problems

Posted by Diane Kulisek on December 21, 2009

Lonnie Mitschelen, ASQ CMQ/OE, CQE, CQA, CSSGB, Quality Assurance Engineer at Spectrolab and Owner of Can Do Quality, asked the following question on LinkedIn:

“What are the top three quality problems facing the small business (manufacturer, service provider or retailer)?  Additionally, what would you expect or want from a consultant to help resolve those quality problems? Develop a system/process? Perform a task? Train or teach? Some combination of the above? Or, something entirely different?”

Diane Kulisek, then working as a consultant, provided the following ‘Best’ rated Answer:

“I would have to say that the problems I encounter most have to do with regulatory compliance and superstition. The third would, of course, be inadequate resources to deal with either regulatory compliance or superstition effectively.  

So, the top three problems are:

  1. Regulatory compliance;
  2. Superstition; and 
  3. Inadequate resources

(although, not necessarily in that order).

Let me elaborate and provide some possible solutions from a consulting perspective, in response to the second part of your question.

I recently attended a meeting featuring a top official from a regulatory agency. As I listened to him describe the new requirements being put forth by law (i.e. in the Code of Federal Regulations), I started to realize that many companies I would categorize as “small” (less than $5 million sales per year), could not afford to comply. I asked the official what consideration of the impact upon small businesses had been put forth, he answered: “You’ve obviously mistaken us for somebody who cares. Our mission is to protect the public… not to help small businesses survive.”

The harsh fact is that many of the current regulations are beyond the ability of small businesses to comply with, economically. This places those business owners in the tough spot of having to consciously violate those regulations until they can afford to comply with them, in hope that they won’t get caught during the period in between. Can you see the mindset this establishes among such business owners, however? And for those who survive…. they will carry that mindset into the management of their larger organizations, as well. Regulatory compliance, in other words, seems to become optional, unless you get caught.

With regard to superstition, although these same small business owners seem willing to accept the potential risk of being caught non-compliant, they will not accept the risk of bringing an outside consultant into their organization. I have found that small business owners are extremely resistant to the concept of contractors for quality management or engineering. For some reason, they seem to think that it is imperative to “own” their quality personnel. I’ve even offered outright FREE consultation to these types of small business owners, just in an effort to demonstrate its value, and had it refused. I can only speculate as to why. I don’t think its personal… because I’ve heard the same story from other quality consultants. My guess would be that, because small business owners ARE making decisions that are possibly against regulatory laws, they don’t want somebody who is not dependent upon them for their livelihood knowing about it. Yet, the very people who could best bring them into compliance, and do so most cost effectively, are those they could never afford to hire on a full-time basis…. a highly-qualified and experienced quality consultant. Go figure.  [Side note from Diane now:  If you have further interest about this part of the answer, you might want to read my article published in a past issue of the American Society for Quality’s Quality Progress Magazine, now available to the public via open access, titled: “Full-Time Quality Manager or Part-Time Quality Consultant“.]

As for the inadequate resources, answers for the first two issues and your consulting question would seem to say that a consultant COULD potentially offer an affordable solution for the first two problems to a small business owner… if given a chance. When employed, there were a number of situations where I would read a regulatory requirement that the other managers in the company thought was a “show stopper” and could show my employer why, within the same regulation, our company was actually exempt from having to comply with the requirement. I remember being challenged with words like: “I thought you were supposed to be ENFORCING” the quality regulation, not circumventing it!” I would respond by saying…. “I AM enforcing the regulation. I am NOT circumventing it. I am simply explaining to you why it does not apply to our operation. The exception is written right into the regulation… but you need to know where to find it.”

Postscript from Diane:

If you are starting a small business, there are more open resources available to help you bring your organization closer to compliance today than there have ever been in the past.  Google(tm) is an amazing tool.  You can find no cost or low cost webinars on just about every quality system or compliance topic.  The U.S. Government posts every Federal Regulation and Compliance Guidance Document on-line, at no expense to businesses.  There are several free on-line and paper copy trade publications that offer outstanding articles, tools and training.  Discussion boards and answer pages, such as those offered by LinkedIn, empower you to ask nearly anonymous questions of some of the top professionals in the quality-related disciplines and receive timely answers, for free. 

For ideas about how to implement a compliant quality-management system for your small business, I recommend you start by browsing the helpful links, downloads, forms, templates and presentation handouts provided at no cost to you via the CAPAtrak website.

Posted in Blogroll, Day-to-Day Observations, Quality-Related LinkedIn Answers, Social Commentary | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Curing Lean Six Sigma Weak Points

Posted by Diane Kulisek on December 14, 2009

The following question was asked on LinkedIn by Bill Rushmore, Principal at Rushmore Technologies, a degreed Chemist and Engineer:

For those who have experience with Six Sigma or Lean Sigma, what is the one (or two) weak point(s) that you would fix with a Six Sigma or Six Sigma project? I am looking into how to improve Lean Six Sigma and have my own factors. I am looking for other opinions or experiences to expand the possibilities.

Diane Kulisek’s answer, one of many posted, was selected by Bill as the ‘Best’ Answer.  Here it is:

I think two things need to change:

  • 1.) There needs to be less emphasis upon the correctness of the terms used to describe what is being done and more emphasis upon doing it; and
  •  2.) There needs to be less elitism associated with those accountable for employing the methodology.

Let me say I believe that Six Sigma and Lean will continue to be terms used for at least the next five to ten years, however, I also have started to hear many of the same criticisms of “Six Sigma” and “Lean” that I used to hear in relation to “SPC”, “Quality Circles”, CPI and “TQM”. All six of these terms (Six Sigma, Lean, SPC, Quality Circles, CPI and TQM) entail top management support, problem-solving methodologies, process improvement tools, and, potentially, improved value or economy. All six of these terms could also be costly to implement. All six of these terms are subject to failure during top management changes. All six of these terms also, unfortunately, can be categorized as “fads”. When you peel back the glitzy layer of names, they are all essentially the same thing. You can garble them up with new terms to describe old concepts. You can claim that they do things differently from one another (which they certainly do, slightly). You can say that the next one made the previous one “obsolete” or old-fashioned (which is not necessarily the case)…. but the bottom line is, they all have so much in common that you can pretty much expect Six Sigma and Lean to take a nose dive the minute enough negative momentum about “THOSE words” has been achieved…. and it’s on it’s way.

My advice would be to stop using trendy words like “Six Sigma” or “Lean” and talk about the fundamental tools being used. More people will understand and the continuity will be better through the turmoil of management changes. So, that’s the language aspect of it.

Secondly, business managers were taught to beat the “quality-is-everybody’s- responsibility” drum for decades. Then, along came Six Sigma. Only the best/brightest were drafted into the Six Sigma ranks. Their grasp of finance needed to be as great (or greater than) their grasp of technology or methodology. They were subjected to extremely expensive (often) company-sponsored training programs…. out of which they emerged, with the green beret of the Six Sigma special forces. Proud and overly confident, many freshly-belted (pun intended) Six Sigma initiates blundered out into the production workspace only to be shot down by older, wiser and angrier personnel lurking in sniper positions.

 The elite division of class that is so often identified with the “Six Sigma” black belt mystique has created far more problems, in my opinion, than have been solved. In fact, I would venture to say that there are more people working to be sure a Six Sigma Black Belt falls smack dab on his or her nose than there will ever be willing to help them in an otherwise just cause. The problem is that nobody likes to be treated as a “lesser than”. Six Sigma Black Belts (and even other belt designations) seem to be taught a smugness that acts like a bullseye on their butt cheeks and foreheads.

My recommendation would be to get rid of the title. Again, focus upon the fundamental tasks being performed. Define the roles from the perspective of basic tasks. “You will be accountable for improving the performance of this process. Accordingly, you are henceforth our Process Improvement Project Manager.” EVERYbody can understand what THAT is.   Well okay, maybe not everybody…  but more than understand ‘six sigma black belt’.

What is a “Six Sigma Black Belt”? It’s an abstraction, especially for those who have NOT (nor likely ever will) been through the training to become one. Why create mystery where openness is the key to improvement? Why create an “elite class” when collaboration at all levels of the organization will be essential to creating desired change? It’s counter-productive, at best. Drive out the use of the terms “Six Sigma and Black Belt”. Use role definitions and job titles that EVERYBODY can understand… and support.

Postscript from Diane:  I suppose it might be worth mentioning that I’m actually starting to see the word ‘quality’ reappear in job descriptions, perhaps not in the titles, but in the responsibilities.  People in charge of hiring people who need to know how to use quality improvement tools and methods have not yet become quite bold enough to venture that a rose is a rose by any other name, but they have begun using ‘other’ terms to avoid using “six sigma’, ‘lean’ or ‘lean sigma’ in many of the more recent position descriptions I’ve been seeing on the open job market.  Examples of ‘new’ quality-related titles include: “Continuous Improvement Project Manager”, “V.P. Organizational Excellence” and “Director of Business Performance Reporting”.  It is …. a start.

Posted in Blogroll, Day-to-Day Observations, Philosophy and Metaphysics, Quality-Related LinkedIn Answers, Social Commentary, Tools and Methods, Science and Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Measure or Metric? Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other?

Posted by Diane Kulisek on December 7, 2009

Here is another LinkedIn ‘Best Answer’.  Anshuman Tiwari, a Change Management and Business Excellence Professional within the Information and Technology Services industry and  an active member of the American Society for Quality in India, asked the following LinkedIn Question:

“How would you differentiate between Measure and Metric?  Measure and Metric are often used terms in Balanced Scorecard and the Baldrige framework. How would you explain the difference. Do you have any examples?”

Below is the answer I posted, which Anshuman rated as the ‘Best’ answer of six provided by LinkedIn Members:

“The only distinction that I think might be able to be made does not appear to be available in any of the literature I’ve checked. I’m basing this only upon my personal experience.

I would have to say that a measure is usually performed to gather information for later analysis or to assess conformance with a known specification.

Meanwhile, I would say that a metric is a collection of measurements performed consecutively over a period of time (or in relation to some other progressive scale) that reflects ongoing performance toward attainment of a desired goal or ultimate outcome. Some measures, however, may also appear in analysis of priority or importance with regard to attainment of a goal or may influence allocation of resources for ultimate attainment of a goal (such as might be the case for cumulative Pareto analysis or 80-20 Rule determinations).

In a nutshell, then, I would have to say that a measure tends to be tactical and a metric tends to be strategic.

It certainly should be defined somewhere, officially.”

This was not part of my LinkedIn Answer, but below are the Google-derived definitions of ‘measure’:

Related phrases:   performance measure   unit of measure   made to measure   common measure   tape measure   oregon ballot measure 7   measure for measure   beyond measure   linear measure   how to measure a planet

Definitions of measure on the Web:

  • any maneuver made as part of progress toward a goal; “the situation called for strong measures”; “the police took steps to reduce crime”
  • how much there is or how many there are of something that you can quantify
  • bill: a statute in draft before it becomes law; “they held a public hearing on the bill”
  • measurement: the act or process of assigning numbers to phenomena according to a rule; “the measurements were carefully done”; “his mental measurings proved remarkably accurate”
  • standard: a basis for comparison; a reference point against which other things can be evaluated; “the schools comply with federal standards”; “they set the measure for all subsequent work”
  • determine the measurements of something or somebody, take measurements of; “Measure the length of the wall”
  • meter: (prosody) the accent in a metrical foot of verse
  • quantify: express as a number or measure or quantity; “Can you quantify your results?”
  • musical notation for a repeating pattern of musical beats; “the orchestra omitted the last twelve bars of the song”
  • have certain dimensions; “This table surfaces measures 20inches by 36 inches”
  • measuring stick: measuring instrument having a sequence of marks at regular intervals; used as a reference in making measurements
  • evaluate or estimate the nature, quality, ability, extent, or significance of; “I will have the family jewels appraised by a professional”; “access all the factors when taking a risk”
  • a container of some standard capacity that is used to obtain fixed amounts of a substance
    wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
  • Measure is the second album from Matt Pond PA, released in 2000.
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measure_(album)
  • A jigger or measure is a bartending tool used to measure liquor, which is typically then poured into a cocktail shaker. It is named for the unit of liquid it typically measures, a 1.5 fluid ounce (~44 ml) jigger or shot. …
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measure_(bartending)

If we narrow our search for a definition to ‘performance measure’, we’ll find that ‘measure’ and ‘metric’ are terms used interchangeably.  There are subsearches provided for strategic performance measures and for tactical performance measures, however.  Here are the Google-based ‘performance measure’ definitions:

Related phrases:   technical performance measure   strategic performance measure   tactical performance measure   performance measure/indicator

Definitions of performance measure on the Web:

So, for ‘tactical performance measure’ we have the following Google-based definition:

A yardstick or standard used to measure progress toward achieving a tactical objective; a measure of how well we are doing; an output measure or a …
www.blackerbyassoc.com/SPGloss.html

And, for ‘strategic performance measure’ we have this:

A yardstick or standard used to measure progress toward achieving a strategic objective. a measure of how well we are doing; an outcome measure.
www.blackerbyassoc.com/SPGloss.html

Hmmm….. those look…. suspiciously… like the exact same definition.  Let’s see what the Google-based definitions are for ‘metric’:

Related phrases:   metric ton   metric system   metric space   metric structure   metric conversions   metric units   metric tonne   routing metric   euclidean metric

Definitions of metric on the Web:

  • metric function: a function of a topological space that gives, for any two points in the space, a value equal to the distance between them
  • metric unit: a decimal unit of measurement of the metric system (based on meters and kilograms and seconds); “convert all the measurements to metric units”; “it is easier to work in metric”
  • system of measurement: a system of related measures that facilitates the quantification of some particular characteristic
  • measured: the rhythmic arrangement of syllables
    wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
  • Metric is a Canadian New Wave/indie rock band. Originally formed in 1998 in New York City, they are currently based in Toronto, Ontario, Montreal …
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_(band)
  • In differential geometry, the notion of a metric tensor can be extended to an arbitrary vector bundle. …
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_(vector_bundle)
  • In general relativity, the metric tensor (or simply, the metric) is the fundamental object of study. It may loosely be thought of as a generalization of the gravitational field familiar from Newtonian gravitation. …
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_(general_relativity)
  • A metric is a standard unit of measure, such as meter or mile for length, or gram or ton for weight, or more generally, part of a system of parameters, or systems of measurement, or a set of ways of quantitatively and periodically measuring, assessing, controlling or selecting a person, process …
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_(unit)
  • A measure for something; a means of deriving a quantitative measurement or approximation for otherwise qualitative phenomena (esp. …
    en.wiktionary.org/wiki/metric
  • metrics – prosody: the study of poetic meter and the art of versification
    wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
  • Metrics is a property of a route in computer networking, consisting of any value used by routing algorithms to determine whether one route should perform better than another (the route with the lowest metric is the preferred route). …
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metrics_(networking)
  • Measurable element of a service, process or function. The real value of metrics is seen in their change over time. Reliance on a single metric is not advised, especially if it has the potential to affect User behaviour in an undesirable way.
    www.infodiv.unimelb.edu.au/knowledgebase/itservices/a-z/m.html
  • A standard of measurement. Software metrics are the statistics describing the structure or content of a program. A metric should be a real objective measurement of something such as number of bugs per lines of code.
    www.software-testing-outsourcing.com/glossary.html
  • A general term describing a measurable value available from a particular system or service (see also Counters). The metrics that are available depend on the monitor type and configuration of the system. …
    mon15ny450.doubleclick.net/SiteScope/docs/SiteScopeTerms.htm
  • A standard for measurement.
    www.icaa.cc/member_wellnessworkgroups/benchmarks_workgroup/Benchmarks%20Definitions%20Worksheet.doc

Defining the word ‘metric’ seems to use the term ‘measure’, a lot.  I dunno.  What do YOU think the differences are between a metric and a measure?

While you’re pondering that, feel free to download copies of my presentation handout about Quality Metrics and Dashboards from the CAPAtrak Website or enjoy the free downloadable Simple Dashboard and Balanced Scorecard Templates.

Posted in Blogroll, Philosophy and Metaphysics, Quality-Related LinkedIn Answers, Social Commentary, Tools and Methods, Science and Technology, Websites | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

ISO Publishes New Standard for Effective Risk Management

Posted by Diane Kulisek on December 4, 2009

Complemented with risk management vocabulary guide

 (ISO: Geneva) — A new international standard, ISO 31000:2009—“Risk management—Principles and guidelines,” will help organizations of all types and sizes to manage risk effectively.

ISO 31000 provides principles, framework, and a process for managing any form of risk in a transparent, systematic, and credible manner within any scope or context.

At the same time, ISO is publishing ISO Guide 73:2009—“Risk management vocabulary,” which complements ISO 31000 by providing a collection of terms and definitions relating to the risk management.

“All organizations, no matter how big or small, face internal and external factors that create uncertainty on whether they will be able to achieve their objectives. The effect of this uncertainty is ‘risk’ and it is inherent in all activities,” explains Kevin W. Knight, chair of the ISO working group that developed the standard.  “In fact, it can be argued that the global financial crisis resulted from the failure of boards and executive management to effectively manage risk. ISO 31000 is expected to help industry and commerce, public and private, to confidently emerge from the crisis,” continues Knight.

The standard recommends that organizations develop, implement, and continuously improve a risk management framework as an integral component of their management system. “ISO 31000 is a practical document that seeks to assist organizations in developing their own approach to the management of risk,” says Knight. “But this is not a standard that organizations can seek certification to. By implementing ISO 31000, organizations can compare their risk management practices with an internationally recognized benchmark, providing sound principles for effective management. ISO Guide 73 will further ensure that all organizations are on the same page when talking about risk.”

ISO 31000 is designed to help organizations:

  • Increase the likelihood of achieving objectives
  • Encourage proactive management
  • Be aware of the need to identify and treat risk throughout the organization
  • Improve the identification of opportunities and threats
  • Comply with relevant legal and regulatory requirements and international norms
  • Improve financial reporting
  • Improve governance
  • Improve stakeholder confidence and trust
  • Establish a reliable basis for decision making and planning
  • Improve controls
  • Effectively allocate and use resources for risk treatment
  • Improve operational effectiveness and efficiency
  • Enhance health and safety performance, as well as environmental protection
  • Improve loss prevention and incident management
  • Minimize losses
  • Improve organizational learning
  • Improve organizational resilience

ISO 31000 and ISO Guide 73 can be applied to any public, private, or community enterprise, association, group, or individual.   The documents will be useful to:

  • Those responsible for implementing risk management within their organizations
  • Those who need to ensure that an organization manages risk
  • Those needing to evaluate an organization’s practices in managing risk
  • Developers of standards, guides, procedures, and codes of practice relating to the management of risk

Both documents were developed by the ISO working group on risk management.  For additional information, please visit the ISO website at: http://www.iso.org/iso/pressrelease.htm?refid=Ref1266.

Posted in Blogroll, Day-to-Day Observations, Social Commentary, Tools and Methods, Science and Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Quality-Related Answers on LinkedIn from Diane

Posted by Diane Kulisek on November 30, 2009

As I was updating some of my information on LinkedIn this morning, it occurred to me that I’ve shared much more information about quality there than on this blog.  While I want to keep the information I share here fresh, sometimes I’m a bit too busy with other urgent matters to compose a new message.  In cases like that, I think you might find some of the answers I’ve posted on LinkedIn of interest… especially those that have been rated highly by LinkedIn users.

Before I get into that, here are a few facts about my LinkedIn activities to help put things into perspective. 

I joined LinkedIn on April 30th, 2006.  Today, I have 365 first degree connections (people I personally know and who are connected directly to me through LinkedIn), 162,200+ second degree connections (people who know people connected to me), and 6,814,700+ third level connections (people who know people who are connected to me), for a total LinkedIn network of 6,977,300+ people.  My LinkedIn network has grown by 30,677 people in the past week.    

Members of my nearly 7 million person network are from all over the world but are largely located in New York, San Francisco, India and Los Angeles, each with 5% of my total LinkedIn network membership, and Chicago, with 3% (for a collective total of 23%).  That means that roughly 200,000 to 350,000 people in each of 4 major U.S. cities and in India are accessible through my network… and can interact with me… via LinkedIn Answers.  India, Los Angeles and London are my fastest growing LinkedIn network regions.

Many of my direct LinkedIn connections are in quality-related professions, however, there is no ‘quality’ profession category to identify oneself with on LinkedIn (and, yes, I’ve mentioned this to LinkedIn‘s management team), so 38% of the industry-categorized members of my LinkedIn community currently fall into the following fields: 

  • 14% Information Technology and Services;
  • 07% Staffing & Recruiting (no surprise there, eh?);
  • 06% Management Consulting (a.k.a. ‘previously employed’, also not a surprise);
  • 06% Computer Software (a.k.a. Information Technology and Services – the sequel); and
  • 05% Human Resources (a.k.a. ‘Staffing & Recruiting’ – part deux).
  •  

    I change my LinkedIn industry category declaration to suit my circumstances or my mood.  I’ve used ‘management consulting’, ‘medical device manufacturing’, ‘process industries’, ‘electrical and electronics’, ‘government relations’ and, currently, ‘public safety’.  They’re all true, of course, or were at the time I used them.

    I’ve also changed my title, to suit my mood.  Currently, I bill myself as: “Organizational Excellence and Quality Assurance Leader”.  I used to be a “Senior Quality Professional” until I read that “Senior” means “Old” on a resume.  Then I was just a “Quality Professional”, until somebody mentioned (rightly) that all professionals are (or should be) quality professionals.  Then I was a “Quality Assurance Professional”, until another person pointed out that, since Lean and Six Sigma has been around, people don’t hire actual “Quality Assurance Professionals”, anymore.  So, I compromised with kind of a play off of the American Society for Quality’s Certification Designation for a Quality Assurance Manager:  “Manager of Quality / Organizational Excellence” and changed the word “Manager” to “Leader” (mostly to try to stop people from sending me first level management job leads — which don’t seem to work very well for me).  I’m now calling myself an “Organizational Excellence and Quality Assurance Leader”.  I think I need to drop “Assurance” and change it to “Improvement”.  The word “Assurance” is apparently still somewhat politically incorrect, in the current job market.  I’ll do that today.

    Anyway, continuing on… according to LinkedIn… I’ve posted 175 answers, as of today.  Unfortunately, not all of those who ask questions on LinkedIn rate the answers they receive (which is really just a form of thanks for those of us who took the time to answer), but for those of my posted answers that were rated, 70 were considered ‘good’ or ‘best’, with 32 falling into the ‘good’ rating and 38 into the ‘best’ answer rating.  23 of the ‘best’ answers I’ve posted are in relation to the topic: “Quality Management and Standards”, but there are many other answer categories that I’ve provided ‘best’ answers for.  Following is the LinkedIn breakout of my ‘best’ answers by topic: 

    • Quality Management and Standards (23 best answers)
    • Organizational Development (2 best answers)
    • Manufacturing (2 best answers)
    • Project Management (2 best answers)
    • Supply Chain Management (2 best answers)
    • Certification and Licenses (1 best answer)
    • Mentoring (1 best answer)
    • Event Marketing and Promotions (1 best answer)
    • Personnel Policies (1 best answer)
    • Business Analytics (1 best answer)
    • Corporate Governance (1 best answer)
    • Labor Relations (1 best answer)
    • Inventory Management (1 best answer)
    • Career Management (1 best answer)
    • Professional Organizations (1 best answer)
    • Ethics (1 best answer)
    • Starting Up (1 best answer)
    • E-Commerce (1 best answer)
    • Computers and Software (1 best answer)
    • Using LinkedIn (1 best answer)

    What this means for you is simply this: out of my nearly 7,000,000 member LinkedIn Network, I am, by far and away, the top rated ‘expert’ on “Quality Management and Standards”.  I must be doing something right.  I don’t like to describe myself (or anybody else) as an ‘expert’, but LinkedIn does that based upon the highest number of ‘best answer’ ratings. 

    Here is how being an ‘expert’ looks on the Answers page (at the bottom) for this topic: 

    In case you’re thinking the apparently huge ‘best’ answers lead I seem to have over fellow professionals, like close runner up, Anshuman Tiwari, does not take into account the expertise of my 2nd degree or 3rd degree LinkedIn contacts, take a look at this:

    Yeah, Shaun (2nd degree connection) and Scott (3rd degree connection), ‘expert’ front runners, are snapping at my heels (NOT). 

    And, by the way, I only post one or two LinkedIn Answers per week… so I don’t spend a lot of time doing this.  I find providing answers on LinkedIn challenges me and keeps my mind tuned into the latest developments in my chosen profession, so I do it for my ongoing personal and professional development as much as for others.  It takes me about an hour (usually) to research and prepare one ‘best’ answer.   That is not a huge investment for my return on it.

    So… the point of this shameless bragging about my LinkedIn activities and answers is this:  maybe I’ve posted some answers that would be worthwhile for you to read.

    I recognize that finding past answers I’ve posted to support your more urgent needs or interests might be like looking for a needle in a haystack via LinkedIn, especially if you don’t have a LinkedIn account (although Google is doing better at providing this information, now).  Nonetheless, I’m going to start posting some of the better answers I’ve provided here, too.  I do provide plenty of links to the LinkedIn website here, so let’s figure this might inspire some of my blog readers to open a new LinkedIn account (or better use the one they have), shall we?  It’s a win-win-win. 

    Anyway, my future LinkedIn Answer Blog posts here will be titled in a manner that best represents the original question asked.  The entire content of the question will appear in the body of the post. 

    If you have any questions for me about LinkedIn, I’ll be happy to do my best to answer them for you.  Better yet… join LinkedIn and ask me there!

    Posted in Blogroll, Day-to-Day Observations, Quality-Related LinkedIn Answers, Social Commentary, Tools and Methods, Science and Technology, Websites | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    What ELSE to Do While Looking for Work

    Posted by Diane Kulisek on September 13, 2009

    jobhuntOkay, I’ve been laid off, again.  I almost made it a year this time… but no.  It was not to be.  At the end of August, I was on my own, again.  My heart goes out to those who remained behind to struggle through the challenges of a manufacturing company under seige by the current economy.  Nonetheless, I am faced with the challenge of surviving while trying to find my next best source of livelihood.

    I don’t really know what one should do, aside from seek employment, while unemployed… but I can share what I have decided to do with you.  Perhaps you’ll find some part of it useful.

    Firstly, I let myself grieve a bit… but not long.  It brought me a sort of spiritual closure.  I reconciled myself with what I had done (or not done) that might have led to my being let go while others were retained.  Happily, I concluded that I had done the best I knew to do, regardless of whatever others may have thought of those efforts.  I am always adding new ways to do things better to my knowledge base, but I am certain that I gave everything I had to give to my last employer and that what I gave was more than many others could have given (or will be able to give).  That understanding has brought me inner peace and the confidence to move forward with a positive attitude about what I have to offer my next employer.  I can now add my experience from one more company, one more industry, one more unique set of business cirumstances, to those I can bring to bear on my next job. 

    After the grieving was over, I turned my attention to my personal affairs, which had, unfortunately, been somewhat neglected while I was working for somebody else.  I filed for unemployment benefits, I completed the COBRA application, I updated my resume and my LinkedIn profile.  I’m getting my documentation in order to renew my professional certifications through the American Society for Quality (ASQ), which, as luck would have it, are due for renewal this year, I sorted out the other piles of paperwork waiting to be attended to in my home and began doing the things I needed to do to resolve each situation. 

    I’ve reviewed and adjusted my budget, such as it is, to best deal with the fixed income I’ll receive through unemployment insurance until I find my next gig.  It will not, of course, cover my most basic current expenses, even with significant belt tightening, but I can survive awhile longer than might otherwise seem possible with some careful maneuvering.

    I’m updating my on-line presence, as this blog post evidences.  My websites will be updated next.

    I let those closest to me know of my predicament which, over the past week,  has rewarded me with lots of well-wishing phonecalls, introductions for new potential opportunities or alliances and many, many encouraging emails.  I was even able to enjoy lunch (and a few hours of impromptue bible study, at her request) with a new professional colleague… who lives walking distance from my home (the result of an introduction from another professional colleague on LinkedIn).  We’ll be working together on a possible on-line CAPA tracking application soon, hopefully.

    I also, reluctantly, bowed out of the most costly and time-consuming volunteer activities I had committed to for the American Society for Quality (ASQ).  Unfortunately, that meant resigning from most of my leadership roles.  I’m holding onto the Quality Advocacy position for San Fernando Valley Section of ASQ, only.  This will better enable me to focus my time and money on job seeking… while better conserving my more limited resources.  It is amazing how much time can get sucked into volunteer activites…. if we let it happen.  I was getting over 50 emails a day, most days, relating to volunteer activities.  Most wanted time, money or both.  Now, that has slowed down to a trickle.  There are new, better, ways for me to make contributions to my professional community, during this time of unemployment.  Posting this blog is one of them.

    I made a daily “to do” list, as well as set some longer term goals… using the task manager feature in MS Outlook.  On my daily task list are things intended to improve my visibility to prospective employers, such as:

    • sending out at least two resumes for new opportunities per day;
    • updating at least one job board profile per day;
    • answering all emails and phone calls from recruiters and prospective employers, daily;
    • posting a new blog entry (here) each day;
    • answering one or two LinkedIn questions, email questions or commenting on web-based discussions each day; and
    • reaching out by offering at least one public presentation, registering to attend a professional development meeting or workshop, enrolling in a free webinar or writing an article for publication, per day.

    There are also some ‘to do list’ items intended to maintain or enhance my attitude, enthusiasm and general quality of life, despite the horrors of poverty and impending doom associated with unemployment.  Among these are:

    • attend to personal dental and other healthcare needs;
    • meet with, talk with or write emails back and forth with at least one friend or family member per day;
    • take at least 10 minutes per waking hour (on average) to do something relaxing, like reading a book, watching a movie clip, listening to music, taking a walk, playing with my pets or meditating;
    • Set aside at least 1 hour per day to ‘play’ or do something creative, like playing a game that makes me think, or developing a game for the Quality Warrior website, drawing/painting, archery, dancing, writing for fun (poetry, fiction), taking photographs, creating a collage, etc.;
    • Take at least 1 hour per day to clean, straighten and unclutter my home or attend to my yard;
    • Get dressed as though I may need to dash out the door for an interview at any moment, each weekday morning (no working in PJ’s except on weekends!);
    • Get 6 hours of sleep out of every 24 hour period (this is almost unheard of for me, because those close to me know I’ve never been able to sleep more than about 3 hours per night, but I’m finding I think much more clearly the next day when I take a nap or two during the day and sleep through those 3 hours at night); and
    • Eat a healthy breakfast (I usually have oatmeal or toasted oats with skim milk and fruit), a light lunch and a satisfying dinner each day.

    I have not yet figured out what to do for excercise, although walking, dancing, playing with my pets, archery and housework all involve elements of that.  I sorely need to find something that works well for me in this department.  Heh.  I’m open to new ideas.

    Along with my ‘to do list’, I have a less formal (more philosophical) ‘don’t list’.  Here are the things I think are on it, so far:

    • Don’t try to blame anybody else for my current plight;
    • Don’t focus upon what I may or may not have done wrong or may be doing wrong (focus on what I have done right and am doing right, instead);
    • Don’t let anybody tell me I need to be anything other than what and who I am, and especially, don’t let anybody convince me to hide my knowledge or experience because I might seem too ‘over-qualified’ or ‘intimidating’;
    • Don’t be afraid to try something new or different (take qualified risks);
    • Don’t let people with jobs treat me disrespectfully just because I don’t have a job at this moment, yet;
    • Don’t tolerate employment-related discrimination, harassment or unfairness;
    • Forgive, but don’t trust people who have proven themselves untrustworthy in the past;
    • Don’t forget to help others along the way; and
    • Don’t forget to express my gratitude for the wonderful things in my life, everyday.

    I’m sure I’ve probably left a lot of stuff out while improvising this message.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about what to do while looking for work… and I’m sure others would, as well.  We can help ourselves best by helping each other.  Please send me a note or post your thoughts.

    Posted in Day-to-Day Observations, Social Commentary | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Independence and Unity – Balance as Quality

    Posted by Diane Kulisek on July 4, 2007

    us-flagToday is our Independence Day holiday in the United States, it seems appropriate to call to the attention of all people throughout the world that the concepts America holds most dear are often in contradiction with one another… intentionally. Take the name of this holiday and the name of this country, for instance. How can people be united and independent, simultaneously? The answer to that question is perhaps fundamental to the joy of life and pursuit of happiness… and therefore… an element of that ever elusive “quality” of life. The answer is… BALANCE.

    As an amateur metaphysician, dabbler in the esoteric, ponderer of existentialism, as well as a systems thinker (as most quality leaders tend to be), I’m pleased to say that both chaos and order appear to have essential merit in the universe. As I consider the usual state of my office while I am engaged in the pursuit of any complex project, the observation that chaos has value is especially relevant. After the project is done, order will be restored (sort of) and with it will linger my personal satisfaction about having mastered the elements of chaos and prevailed with order, yet again.

    Why would such opposite concepts have seemingly equal value, though? Why would independence and unity both have value, despite their contradictory implications? How could chaos and order be equally meritorious states of being? Well, discussions about this fill bookshelves in far greater libraries than mine shall ever be. For now, I’m just going to focus on the importance of balance as an essential element of quality.

    When I was new to the quality profession, I thought that one of it’s most compelling attractions was the ease with which one could discern good from bad. It was black and white. The specification was literally written in black and white on some authoritative document and there were acceptance criteria and rejection criteria and if something was good it was clear. If something was bad it was also clear. How convenient. How honest. How straight forward. But ultimately…. how MISLEADING.

    Goodness or badness are rarely immediately clear distinctions… as anybody with a mischievous child or pet learns pretty quickly. There is a bit of good and bad in each and every thing depending entirely, of course, upon beholders’ perspectives. This is a great rationale for providing your child with a pet early in life. Let them learn about this up close and personal!

    At the beginning of my quality career, back when I was still young enough to mistakenly think that the more I learned the more I would know, I suddenly stumbled upon the concept that opposites might actually be part of the same continuum. I bit my lip and came to terms with the likelihood that learning something new meant understanding there were many more things I didn’t know.

    You see, there are all kinds of shades of gray between black and white…. but the fact was that black and white were at opposite ends of a single linear scale of graduated darkness and lightness. Then, I realized that I could flip the scale around and have the darkness graduating to light or the lightness graduating to dark. Join opposing ends… and the linear scale had now become circular. But wait. There’s MORE.

    With a bit more pondering, I realized that every point along the black/white continuum also had graduated levels of radiance associated with it. Now, I could envision this continuum as a fractal plane… or…. even as a holographic sphere…. and it started to look like…. <gasp>….. hadn’t I seen that symbol somewhere before? Good grief! It was a yin-yang symbol…. in 3-D! I had finally become one with the surfing community of Southern California. EGADS!

    I promptly went out and bought “The Tao of Physics” (Fritjof Capra, 1975, Shambhala Publications, Berkley, California). Imagine my surprise upon learning that the renowned, Nobel prize-winning physicist, Niels Bohr, had also incorporated the yin-yang symbol into the Bohr family coat of arms when knighted in 1947 and adopted, as his motto: Contraria sunt complementa (opposites are complementary). Come to think of it, this wasn’t a new concept. Newton came up with something like it in 1687, namely, Newton’s Third Law: “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

    I started to notice opposites everywhere… as pairs, not as distinctions. And there were gradients between the pairs. And there were orders of magnitude for the opposing features of each pair. Goodness and badness were no longer distinct. In fact, if one pursued goodness to an extreme, it could transition to badness… and visa versa (too much of anything is a bad thing). If love and passion are marked by the appearance of obsession, for instance, when somebody is obsessed enough with their hatred toward another… it can look an awful lot like… love. If one loves another to the point of obsession, however, especially if it is unreciprocated, the obsession can turn into all sorts of ugliness: stalking, abduction, murder… and closely resembles hatred. On the other hand, if hatred is pushed to it’s lowest extreme, malicious neglect, it can mimic the lowest boundary of love, bare tolerance, and perhaps the destructive power of indifference would be at the imaginary boundary between the two, if such a boundary existed. No wonder the phrase “love/hate relationship” has become so common.

    When I began to understand the statistics behind quality control and the uncertainty associated with population distributions relative to sample distributions, confidence levels and operating characteristic curves, I could not help but realize that I was encountering still more application of balance as a quality factor. What had seemed like a firm scientific and mathematical basis for acceptability I now understood to be based upon assumptions about acceptable levels of risk. Wait a minute. Doesn’t a sine curve point of inflection look an awful lot like….. oh NO…. it DOES…. it’s a yin yang symbol!

    Then I learned of the Taguchi loss function, which defines variation (or perhaps more appropriately: “deviation”) from a specific desired outcome as a “loss to society”… and shuns the notion of “goal-posting” (setting acceptability limits within which everything is either suddenly “good” and outside of which everything is suddenly “bad”, a.k.a. tolerance limits). This is when I realized that quality practitioners could no longer enjoy the comfort of a “black and white”, “good and bad”, world. Quality practitioners must strive for balance as much as for any other outcome.

    How much loss is society willing or able to endure in order for anything to have less quality? How much is society willing to suffer or survive in order for our planet to have less ecological balance? Consider the factors important to consider when answering questions of this nature. The quality practitioner’s life had just shifted from the purely mathematical and scientific, to the sociological and philosophical with only a foundation in math and science. Chaos rules. Drat.

    Well, if it’s any consolation, despite my tailspin off into quality engineer-ese, the founding fathers of the United States of America understood and communicated the need for balance in much more common terms. They diligently defined quality and balance for this country in our Declaration of Independence, our U.S. Constitution, and, lastly, in our Bill of Rights and Amendments. These governing documents consistently recognized and balanced the need to protect the rights and independence of the individual against the need for and strength of unity in every possible way. The fruit of their labors has endured for over 210 years and, in that time, has made the United States one of the most desirable places to live in the world. I see that as one of the loudest, clearest, most basic statements about the importance of quality, with balance as an element of quality, and the indisputable value of quality in the world today.

    Happy 4th of July!

    Posted in Day-to-Day Observations, Philosophy and Metaphysics, Social Commentary | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

    The HIGH Cost of Lying to Customers – Are You Paying It?

    Posted by Diane Kulisek on June 19, 2007

    fruitskewersAs is often the case for many people who do a lot of public speaking for a cause such as quality assurance and regulatory affairs, I am the owner of many generous gift cards from the grateful recipients of my public presentations. Among them, were two for a well-known gourmet restaurant. Not one to waste such stipends, I invited a pal to join me for a high end lunch.

    It is not that I really expected the experience to be worth the money the meal would otherwise have cost, but I do expect that it not be of lesser quality than the corner coffee shop or, at least, than a fast food drive through window. More specifically, I expect the people I am dealing with to be polite and honest.

    The selection I coveted included a glopping side serving of mashed potatoes. Despite my robust figure, the thought of sucking down a half pound of mashed potatoes on the dining patio in 80+ degrees F weather did not sit well. What would have, was a garden salad… except I have a bit of a problem digesting certain common raw vegetables. Fruit goes down better. So… I asked if the gloppy side dish could be replaced with some seasonal fresh fruit. Mind you… this is not an uncommon request for Southern Californians and, in particular, I have met with great success in requesting this substitution at many other eateries, including all corner coffee shops. Despite this, the young waitress looked me straight in the eye and said: “Sorry, we don’t have fresh fruit.” I was aghast. I looked her straight back in the eye and said… “You’ve got to be kidding…. NO fresh fruit?!” “None.”, she declared, without a moment’s hesitation.

    Imagine my irritation when the self same waitress appeared about 5 minutes later with a garnish of one huge plump ripe strawberry and one juicy slice of pineapple perched nicely on my peach smoothie. Before she zipped away…. I caused her to pause. I said: “Is this fruit safe to eat?” She gave me a puzzled look… to which I responded: “Well, you said you had no fresh fruit so, in that this is fruit, I am assuming it is not fresh…. “. She said… “Well, I meant that we do not serve fresh fruit as a side dish. THAT… is a garnish.” I said: “It looks a lot like fresh fruit to me. Why couldn’t you have thrown a few pieces on my plate? I don’t care whether you call it a side dish or a garnish.” With a piercing look of utter disdain, she spun around on her heels and left, tossing a phrase filled with finality: “Because we DON’T.” over her shoulder on the way out.

    My lunch partner looked at me with mild disdain, as well. “A bit harsh, weren’t you?” Now my ire was UP. I had just been LIED to and unceremoniously DISSED by a person in the “hospitality” profession…. and I was the one at fault?! I was tempted to make the rest of her service to me as miserable an experience for both of us as possible, just out of principle…. but I decided to have mercy on my lunch partner… and (thus) on the misguided serving wench.

    So…. what WAS the cost of that little fib? Well…. let me TELL you! Privately (or to anybody who emails me to ask), whenever the conversation turns to the service quality of restaurants, I WILL share the name of the restaurant chain that tolerates personnel who are dishonest and disrespectful to customers and, more specifically, who tolerated an employee who was dishonest and disrespectful to ME. I WILL go into details. I will state the specific location. I WILL NOT… patronize that establishment again, despite their arrogant claims of superiority.

    Frankly, a so-called “high quality” restaurant that makes so little profit selling food that it has to sell advertising in it’s menu just to make up the difference probably isn’t long for this world, anyway. A few of the less tasteful advertisements in the menu had a negative impact on my appetite, anyway (pun intended). I wonder if the managers realize that the ads are at cross-purpose to selling food. Probably not. Come to think of it, they probably wouldn’t listen to their customers even if one tried to tell them.

    Anyway, for those of you in the service and hospitality businesses, or even just serving customers from within another type of organization… if you don’t think honesty and respect for customers matters today…. it will… tomorrow. Think about this little story before you insincerely say: “Sorry, we don’t have fruit.” while looking at a truckload of it sitting just far enough behind the scenes to not be immediately apparent to the customer. Sure, it may not be on your menu… it may not be an authorized “option”…. you may not have been taught how to “deal with it”…. your decision makers may be too busy to offer guidance….. you might even have been given a procedure that clearly discourages the use of “fresh fruit” but…. if its there…. and you don’t at least acknowledge it when a customer asks about it… it could cost you and your company a lot more than a few moments of inconvenience or <gasp> the burden of having to figure out something new or different. Customers have a way of figuring things out. Especially when you slap them in the face with it.

    My waitress probably didn’t think it mattered that she boldly declared there was no fresh fruit five minutes before she served me fresh fruit in a “slightly different context”. It did. It always does. Learn from her mistake… and that of the company that employs her. There is ALWAYS a high cost for lying to a customer. They’ll pay theirs. In fact, they’ve already started to pay, haven’t they? Send me an email for the name of this famous restaurant chain and the location of the restaurant where this happened.  I can be reached through the CAPAtrak “contact us” page.  Just be sure to put: “Tell me the name of the restaurant” in the subject line.

    Posted in Day-to-Day Observations, Social Commentary | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    “Quality” – Is it a Four-Letter Word?

    Posted by Diane Kulisek on June 11, 2007

    No QualityThis past weekend I found myself in Palm Springs at the annual Regional Leadership Training for American Society for Quality (ASQ) volunteers (a.k.a. “member leaders”). One of the things that we did at this event was to brainstorm about what we, as member leaders, could do to bring more value to our fellow ASQ members and to our communities. Sitting at a round table with approximately a half dozen other seasoned professionals, I was immediately stricken by two things: 1.) the declaration by one participant that he did not consider himself to be a “quality” manager and that he did not like having the word “quality” associated with what he did for his company and 2.) the emphasis upon needing to do more to reach out to fellow employees outside of “our” profession with “lean six sigma” resources and to purposely avoid using the word “quality”, because it put people off. Good heavens! These were supposedly “quality” professionals… or at least “quality” practitioners! We were THERE because we were members of the American Society FOR “Quality“….. and these people had a problem with using the word “quality”?! Since when had “quality” become a four letter word?!

    Some increasingly heated discussion took place about how “quality” was everybody’s job these days (to which I say, “If its everybody’s job, it is nobody’s job.”), how the best “quality” managers work themselves out of a job by making quality a way of doing business for everybody in the organization and eliminating the need for a “quality” manager (true, perhaps… with many qualifiers required), and how many organizations are, in fact, eliminating separate “quality” departments or personnel, transferring accountability for quality instead to operations, customer service, legal and/or information systems departments (again, this may be fine… but there should be many prerequisites).

    I had actually written an article earlier this year about how one company’s top manager started a meeting with me by telling me how he had nothing nice to say about “quality”, how bad his experiences with “quality” had been and how “quality” always seemed to get in the way of other (apparently more worthwhile) business objectives. My point is that this was not my first exposure to this weird anti-“quality” mentality.

    Anyway, back at the training meeting round table … we ended our discussion with my asking what the point was to being part of a society dedicated to “quality” if “quality” was no longer (as a minimum) our common interest. We did not have time to address that question, unfortunately.

    From my perspective, it comes down to this. If we don’t use the word “quality” to describe what it is a customer requires or is willing to pay for…. what other word (or words) should we use? Without customers… why would it matter what a business does? If a customer requires “quality”, and organizations are no longer willing to provide it, how can those organizations expect to stay around? What would they be providing… and to whom? Perhaps more importantly…. why would anybody want it?

    Earlier this year, there was an indication that the word “quality” might be dropped from the title of the “Baldrige National Quality Program”, replacing the word “quality” with “excellence”, instead (which, by the way, will require a congressional act). The rationale was that “quality” was no longer a popular term among top business executives and was diminishing participation in the award process. But … not all customers expect “excellence”… and, even if they did, “excellence” in relation to what? In order to “excel”, one must at least have a point of reference… a minimum level of requirement. You can have “excellent quality”, “excellent price”, “excellent responsiveness”… but.. “excellence” cannot stand alone. It has to be attached to something. I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this nasty business, though.

    Some might argue that the word “quality” cannot stand alone, as well. To an extent this is true because quality is always inherent to something else…. a thing or a service, a deliverable. Nonetheless, “quality”, in my humble opinion, has always been most simply defined as “that which makes something that which it is supposed to be… according to the customer”. I define customers here, loosely, as those willing to exchange something of value for something else of value. Customers therefore require, as a minimum, “quality”. Customers may prefer excellent quality, that is, customers may be willing to pay more for goods and services that exceed their minimum expectations… but still, as a minimum, quality is required.

    So… how many other ways could one simply describe this fundamental requirement? How many other ways could one simply express the need for something to be what it is supposed to be? “Quality” is really the only word that sums it up nicely… for me.

    There is no denying that the word “quality” has fallen from grace with some, even with many. Perhaps this is because of how the word “quality” has been abused by those who clumsily or in a self-serving manner hooked it up with abstractions and distractions and used it to sell all manner of unpleasantness.

    Let me make this more clear. “Quality” is NOT the same thing as “Lean Six Sigma”. “Quality” is NOT the same thing as “a management system”. “Quality” is not the same thing as “regulatory compliance”. While it is true that the tools and methods of “Lean Six Sigma” can be used to enhance processes that may lead to a better quality deliverable, those tools and methods are a means to an end… not the end itself. While it is true that an effective “management system” can better assure the adequacy of processes that impact the quality of deliverables, the system is again, a means to an end, not the end itself. While it is true that a customer may expect compliance with applicable regulations as part of “what makes something that which it is supposed to be”, there are many other expectations that go beyond regulatory compliance in order for all of a customer’s minimum needs to be satisfied. This is also why “compliance with specifications” falls short of adequately defining “quality”.

    So… again… I struggle with the question…. if not “quality”…. how else can we describe: “that which makes something that which it is supposed to be for the customer”? I need to know… because, while customers know VERY well what they mean when they say “I require a quality product (or service)” it appears that our business engineers, managers and executives do not, have become confused… or, at the very least, are irrationally and stubbornly, refusing to use “THAT WORD“.

    Now that so many former “quality” professionals and practitioners are becoming unwilling to use “THAT WORD“, …. what should they call themselves? Is this truly an identity crisis… or have they just lost their way?

    Well, I haven’t lost MY way. Until I hear of another word (or brief, simple, easy to remember and consistently repeat phrase) to describe what it is that I do…. that being: “assure things are what they are supposed to be for customers”…. I’m sticking with “quality”. I am a “quality” professional, “quality” practitioner, “quality” advocate and I am passionate about “quality”. I’m open, of course, to other suggestions…. from my customers.

    Diane

    Posted in Day-to-Day Observations, Philosophy and Metaphysics, Social Commentary | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »