‘They’ are sure sign of improvement opportunities

February 16, 2012

We have all heard of ‘they’ or ‘them’! You know, ‘they’ never give us enough material to do the job. ‘They’ didn’t leave it ready for us again. It was ‘them’ in (fill in the blank) department that delayed it. The problem is we refer to ‘them’ as though they were some completely isolated group from the organization we work in. While in fact ‘they’ are usually just another group of colleagues in our own department, in another department or an organization we partner with such as a supplier. Some of whom we have lunch with or shoot the breeze with on a regular basis. So when we refer to ‘them’ or ‘they’ we are really pushing off the blame or completely oblivious to the fact that this is something that needs to be addressed, at the least it is unprofessional and sends a message of discord which can lead to mistrust and certainly tells a customer that ‘this is not a professional organization’.  If it is a valid frustration, a regular occurrence, then it is causing a bottleneck, delays, customer dissatisfaction and most probably costing money.

It is essential that everyone in our team understands that if an opportunity exists for improvement that they can be free to raise the issue. It is also essential that they are listened to, that there is some way to evaluate its importance and therefore where it comes of the ‘to do list’ and of course that there is some systematic approach to resolving the situation, a problem solving methodology that ideally every employee is trained in using.  By solving the daily frustrations that impact us personally at work, seeing that quality tools do work and help, achieves buy-in at grassroots level and ensures that they will be used again to solve further problems proactively.

So, what have ‘they’ been up to you in your company? 

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. A former Professor of Quality at the University of Wisconsin, he has experience as a quality manager in the home building industry as well as construction engineer, site manager, and in training, auditing, and consulting with expertise in strategic and operational quality improvement initiatives. His work has achieved national quality, environmental, and safety management awards for clients. 

Denis is co-author of The Executive Guide to Understanding and Implementing the Baldrige Criteria: Improve Revenue and Create Organizational Excellence.


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