Denis Leonard has a degree in construction engineering an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in quality management. Denis is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality, a Certified Quality Manager, Auditor and Six Sigma Black Belt. He has been an Examiner for the Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners a Judge on the International Team Excellence Competition and a Lead Judge on the National Housing Quality Award.
“The stories, apocryphal or not, that circulate in an organization reveal its devotion (or lack of it) to quality, and serve to inspire its people to live (or not live) the quality message.”
What stories are being told in your company?
Tom Peters & Nancy Austin, A Passion for Excellence: The Leadership Difference, 1985
"What we hear too often is, don't confuse me with the facts, I know what I want to do." Bill Denney PhD
Technology has made gathering data so much easier. However, the problem is we can be overwhelmed by it. Surveys, stats, city, state and national data sources can be accessed and reams of paper can be printed to provide us with the information we need. But the key is interpreting that data, knowing how to use it, knowing what it is telling us. Where are the gaps in the market, what are price points that customers can afford etc. The key is to gather data and then analyze it and make decisions on that data, not on gut feel.
The focus is the customer, it’s about their needs and wants. Sometimes when we try to improve our customer focus and we try to achieve a ‘wow factor’ we actually just add fluff, which at best is window dressing which doesn’t do any harm, but nor does it have benefit and it still adds cost and time. But in the worst case adding fluff can lose you a customer.
Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is a tool that can assist in identifying where your areas of risk lie and helps structure solutions.
In 1989 Warren Bennis published ‘On Becoming a Leader’ which became a key leadership book. He stated that leaders “know who they are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how to fully deploy their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses.” The key of course is compensating for weaknesses, not ignoring them.
The honest study of the strengths and weaknesses of an organization should also be studied and again, the weaknesses compensated for, but not ignored.
The Belbin team roles are used to help create effective and balanced teams. Few individuals are strong in all of these roles, so ensuring you have a good mix on a team can make a real difference. It also needs to be noted that each role has its own strengths and weakness.
The Lean Enterprise Institute surveys show that 36% of companies attempting lean give up the efforts. Customer Relationship Magazine cites 60% of six sigma programs fail to give desired results. The problem is not the tools it is the approach that has caused the problems and frankly the approach would cause any project to fail.
A key aspect of quality management is the importance we place on employees, valuing people. We spend a significant amount of time and money officially sending this message to our team, espousing this pillar of quality. Yet, while doing this, we often directly contradict this by sending a clearer and longer lasting message. Let me give you a few examples.
Being creative and innovative is something that is widely touted, but how do we actually do it?
This may be needed for a particular issue during land development, most certainly necessary during design and of course during construction. In todays economy cutting costs is a constant factor and to do this whether you are using lean, value engineering etc etc at the core is being creative and innovative. While there are a range of issues that go into making a company or team creative including culture, here is one structured approach to creativity, PISA.