Friday, April 29, 2005

Seven Deadly Sins or How to find Root Cause

Seven Deadly Sins or How to find Root Cause


In an odd way, I just got hold of a September 2003 Article from ASQ's Quality Journal titled The Seven Deadly Sins of Quality Management.  The title is clever...better still is the content.


The article is a proposal of seven general "roots" that the author believes fall at the base of most root cause analyses.  In any lean system, we must be looking for the root causes of waste and this article futhers the search. 


In my experience, the 5 Whys technique of root cause analysis is very useful and teachable.  The difficulty, inevitably, comes when one gets to the third (and always by the fourth) why.  Prof Dew in this article proposes that there are ultimately seven root causes, which the "whys" will lead to, specifically:


1.       Placing budgets ahead of quality.

2.       Placing schedule ahead of quality.

3.       Placing organizational politics ahead of quality.

4.       Being arrogant.

5.       Lacking fundamental knowledge, research or education.

6.       Pervasively believing in entitlement.

7.       Practicing autocratic behaviors, resulting in "endullment."


A worthwhile article...I applied it already today to a problem I found.  If these are the roots, this list can help us get to the root more quickly.  I encourage you to read it.   


I hope this is helpful.


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Poka Yoke in non-manufacturing setting

Poka Yoke in non-manufacturing     


For a useful discussion of how to mistake-proof a non-manufacturing process, learn from Mary Poppendieck in her paper on avoiding the speed-quality compromise in software development. 


Thanks to Hal Macomber for the tip.  And, be sure to check out Hal's new website, while you are at it!


I hope this is helpful.


Sunday, April 24, 2005

Performance Counts

Performance Counts

During the usual intellectual expansion of a relaxing read of the Sunday paper this morning, I read this.

Alas, Charlie Brown continues to hope to have a winning baseball team. Lucy falls asleep, missing a fly ball. When confronted with her mistake, she shifts the discussion, to Charlie Brown's failure to remove his cap when speaking to a girl. Charles Shultz had a knack for getting to the heart of an issue in a most funny way.

Performance counts. We have to get our job done. As Lean leaders, we have to know what we are supposed to get done. And what those working with us must do.

Do we describe this kindly? Yes. Do we speak politely? Of course.

Do we explain and expect performance? Absolutely. Will others attempt to distract us from true performance? Yep.

And performance matters. Some want to perform. Others want to distract. Know the difference.

I hope you perform well today and find this helpful.

Feel free to forward to a friend. Email me

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Making Change Happen

Making Change Happen

My pal Jeff Angus who writes Management by Baseball adds flavor to a long-term understanding of Lean systems with his recent blog on making change happen. Using Lou Pinella as an example, he describes how and why we have to listen, closely, to the folks actually doing the job to bring about change.

Lean experts talk about walking through the workplace, holding meetings in the workplace, staring at the workplace, listening to the workplace as the key. And Jeff illustrates this well.

I hope you find it helpful, as did I. Thanks, Jeff.

Feel free to forward to a friend. Email me

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Drucker on The Whole vs. The Part


Drucker on The Whole vs. The Part


One of the key concepts of any Lean system is making the system work.  Not the individual pieces or machines, but the entire enterprise.  We've known that for years. 


Thus, I was thrilled to read Peter Drucker's view on this subject a few days ago.


There is one fundamental insight underlying all management science.  It is that the business enterprise is a system of the highest order: a system whose parts are human beings contributing voluntarily of their knowledge, skill, and dedication to a joint venture.  And one thing characterizes all genuine systems, whether they be mechanical like the control of a missile, biological like a tree, or social like the business enterprise: it is interdependence.  The whole of a system is not necessarily improved if one particular function or part is improved or made more efficient.  In fact, the system may well be damaged thereby, or even destroyed.  In some cases the best way to strengthen the system may be to weaken a part-to make it less precise or less efficient.  For what matters in any system is the performance of the whole; this is the result of growth and of dynamic balance, adjustment, and integration, rather than of mere technical efficiency.


Primary emphasis on the efficiency of parts in management science is therefore bound to do damage.  It is bound to optimize precision of the tool at the expense of the health and performance of the whole. 


From p 97 of The Daily Drucker : 366 Days of Insight and Motivation for Getting the Right Things Done.  Bold emphasis is mine.


Drucker, as usual, gets it right.  And says it better than anyone else, most of all me. 


I hope this is helpful.