Browsing the archives for the quality tag.


Personal Wellness w/ Quality Tools

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There’s a specific feeling you get when you receive the email that your session was approved for a conference, in particular the World Conference on Quality & Improvement. While I attend this year with partial tail between legs as I was only one point away from Fellow this year, I relish in the idea that I’ll be helping out with the new SR Technical Community booth and of course Pro QC’s activities.

This year, I received word that my “After 5” session was approved, which means I’ll have some flexibility for interaction and more time to really dig into the process. I’m super excited about this. It also just so happens to complement the Quality in the First Person article I’ve got coming out in April’s Quality Progress. Nice touch, I thought.

So, the idea for connecting personal wellness and quality has roots in my own journey of successes and failures in this regard.  I’m lucky continuous improvement is a common thread in quality, because I certainly continue to work on my wellness plan. I’ve also done some research and spoken on quality of life as it relates to productivity and can say without hesitation that personal wellness and quality of life are not inseparable.

I guess what I want to share at WCQI is the connection to the tools that I’ve found. And, because I’m comfortable with the tools and trust the tools, I’m finding these are more effective than the methods I’ve tried in the past.

I’m working on the presentation materials. My goal is to quickly come to the same page on what personal wellness is and then assess our individual current needs. From that, we can develop personalized wellness plans that take advantage of those beautiful quality tools.

So, what do I think personal wellness is? What is it?

What it isn’t limited to is fitness and nutrition. I hear that a lot, but it’s more than that. Personal wellness includes vocational, spiritual, emotional, social and intellectual considerations as well.  Wellness is commonly defined as “the state or condition of being in good physical and mental health.”

How do you assess your own current personal wellness needs?

Good question. I like to good old Likert rating scale. Example:

For the majority of the time, I get the recommended amount of sleep.

Strongly Agree  —  Agree —  Neutral — Disagree  —  Strong Disagree 

I would consider myself active and would say I usually meet or exceed 10,000 steps per day.

Strongly Agree  —  Agree —  Neutral — Disagree  —  Strong Disagree 

I’m wrapping up an assessment tool that I’ll be sharing at WCQI!

Another idea… Conduct a 5 Why analysis.  Example:

  • Who can I be? Dream big.
  • What is my purpose? You need a mission statement. After all, you’re You, Inc. 
  • When do I want to make this happen? Be realistic. Start small and plan big.
  • Where do I start? Get organized. 
  • Why am I doing this? The real reason… the sustainable one.
  • How much time can I really dedicate to reaching my personal wellness goals? Be realistic. Set a real schedule.

I always have to throw out personal SWOT analysis out there. It’s probably my signature “go to” at this point, along with PDCA. I can’t help but utilize these for everything. For personal wellness, it’s a great way to identify opportunities for when you can make specific wellness actions happen.

Based on your assessment, identify 1 or 2 SMART goals. What’s a SMART goal:

Specific (Significant), Measurable (Meaningful), Achievable (Action-Oriented), Relevant (Rewarding) and Time-B0und (Great template here) 

So, how does it all work?

As quality professionals, we know we have to Plan > Do > Check > Act (See…). We need to make it fun and get that data we love.  Use technology, get old school with a pen and paper, or whatever.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Gantt Chart – Organize your steps to action so you can monitor your progress. What do you want to accomplish this year? Plan it out month by month.
  • Fitbit (or similar) – Get in those 10,000 steps. Make it competitive.
  • Smartwatch – Data galore as you can track your sleep, blood pressure, steps, etc.
  • Apps – There are a number of free meditation apps worth checking out, nutrition database apps, etc. Replace Facebook time with meditation and stand back as you watch the zen take over.
  • Excel – The old favorite. Why not record your weight and your exercise? You can get some pretty cool pie charts and bar graphs from that stuff.
  • Calendar Notifications – Set those notifications. Are you being mindful? Have you walked around in a while?
  • Walking meetings, anyone? Consider things you can do at work. If you’re in management what things can you do to impact your team in a positive way?

I’m excited for May and have a lot to add here… Good times.

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C-Suite Speak… “Quality”

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Dr. Suresh Gettala is guest blogging on ASQ’s View from the Q this month, and he’s discussing “talking quality” with the C-suite.

As today’s senior executives continue to be inundated with analysis and recommendations from all departments fighting for their attention, getting that message of quality heard can be challenging.

Dr. Gettala provides several great tips…

  • Address both the long and short-term benefits.
  • Use metrics, shareholder and customer-related to be specific.
  • Make the economic case for quality. Prove quality as an investment, not a  cost.
  • Be a storyteller.
  • Highlight the Big Q by keeping a broad scope.

Here’s what I’ll add…

Respect their time.

One of the first things I learned about communicating with the C-suite is that they don’t have a lot of time. It’s not personal, but they’re probably not going to be as into quality or whatever it is you’re discussing as you are. They’re usually big picture kind of folks, and I think they appreciate it when we get to the point and offer solutions quickly. An Inc. article referenced the following:

“Half a minute is forever in a boring conversation. Studies indicate that on the phone, the listener is considering whether to exit or stick around every seven to 11 seconds. In face-to-face meetings, you get a little more grace–say, all the way to 30 seconds. If you are not constantly generating someone’s interest, you are losing him.”

Make connections – Connect to organizational goals.

Our brains thrive on short-cuts. We tune out sometimes when things aren’t interesting or it requires too much allocation of brain power at that given time.  But, also in that sense, our brains work by making connections. If we’re able to consistently draw connections to things like organizational goals, we’re more likely to have an active listener in our midst.  It’s more challenging to dismiss.

Identify risks – Sell them value.

The C-suite eats and breathes risk.  It’s their language, and they’re comfortable decision making in this space. If you identify the risks and offer a solution that brings value, you’re staying in their comfort zone and allowing them to do what they do best.

Always have a call to action – Present solutions & not concepts.

In marketing, you’re always reminded of the need for a call to action.  Without it, our brains don’t necessarily know that there’s something required.  Whenever we’re concluding and wanting something to happen, it needs to be clearly expressed and not implied.  What is it that we want to happen to fix this problem or address this issue or whatever it is? If more time is required for discussion and/or analysis, when can follow-up be scheduled and what specific information would they like to see? What’s next?

At the end of the day, make sure you’re conveying your message correctly and that it is received as such…

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World Quality Month 2015… Wooooo

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Yup… Brace yourself. Quality Month is coming.

I take World Quality Month pretty seriously for a few good reasons. The best reason is that it gives me an opportunity to talk about what I love, which is also what I do.  For those of us working in quality, we know all too well that folks outside the circle don’t necessarily understand what quality really is, or what the people working in the industry do.  We have tools that makes things better.  We should share them.

Throughout November, I take the opportunity to let quality shine. Last year in our local section, we hosted a picnic celebration in lieu of our regular monthly meeting. There were quality giveaways and fun activities that made the day really special.  The best part was seeing the families of the members that attended.  That was special.

This year, the Section 1508 Board has a few ideas in mind.  I’m looking forward to presenting as an introduction. I want to use some of the facts and other resources ASQ has posted to share with our local members.  And, I’m hoping to engage in some fun quality bingo or quality trivia and have prizes and raffles. Who doesn’t love prizes and raffles? One of the Board members suggested “I Love Quality” temporary tattoos… Win.

In addition to the local section activities, I’m organizing stuff for work. I’m in an interesting spot here because I work for a quality services provider. So, my audience is much larger than our team. I’m able to extend the message to our client base via email, blog posts, etc.  I don’t use it as an opportunity to sell. Rather, it is a genuine attempt to share the resources and spread the word.  I will say we’ll likely be offering special promotions on services too though. That’s just the marketer in me, so it had to be done. I am also working on organizing some special lunch celebrations in our offices throughout the world.  I’d like to get some pics and share them among our global team.  World Quality Month connects us.

I’m wanting to at least post something to Facebook a few times throughout the month.  I love quality quotes, so I’ll probably use those across my personal social media network.  Oh, a quality quote overlaid on a kitty pic for Facebook.  Hmmmm.  People would read that, no doubt.

LinkedIn is really the perfect place to share this stuff. I’m hoping to directly post something to my feed and also see what’s going on in the groups.

For real though, I’m getting psyched. I was excited to see this month’s View from the Q post is asking for ideas and suggestions. I’m looking forward to reading the other Influential Voice’s posts and general comments. Starting in October, I’m also looking forward to participating in the photo contest again… #quality2030. Let’s do this!

PS: I made a word search and crossword a few years ago.  Access them here (Word SearchCrossword), and challenge yourself and/or your team. In 2013, I did “30 Days of Quality.” Use mine, or create your own.

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What does “Made in the USA” mean today?

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imagesI love this question.  Love. It. The answers I get from people are so varied.

For this post, I decided it would be interesting to ask folks I know what they think, similar to what Laurel Nelson-Rowe has done in her latest post via ASQ’s View from the Q.  

When I asked a few people I know in the tech industry (gen x engineers) what “Made in the USA” meant to them, their responses were:

  • Unimpressive
  • Poor Quality
  • Marketing
  • Expensive

Don’t shoot the messenger here. Seriously… 

When I asked folks of varying positions within the manufacturing industry, their responses were:

  • Quality
  • Quality of Life
  • Built to Exacting Standards
  • Pride
  • Skilled Labor
  • High Tech
  • Jobs

When I asked a few folks in my mom’s retirement community, their responses were:

  • American Pride
  • Jobs
  • Quality
  • Craftsmanship

When I asked family and friends, responses included:

  • Poor Quality
  • Quality
  • Happy
  • Jobs
  • Unions

When I asked a couple of friends in China, their responses included:

  • Quality
  • Costly (Expensive)
  • Technology
  • Premium

I asked my 11 year old, and he just said “stuff that’s made here.” So, perspective…

I asked my son this question because he was just asking me why Japanese cars seem to be better quality. It’s no secret that I’m a Subaru fan, so I’m sure he derived the question from something I had said previously. But, nonetheless, his question provided me with an opportunity to share that fun story about Deming and how the perception of Japanese made goods really changed after the war and through the use of quality methods and tools we still use today. Fun story. Also, interesting case study on how a country’s brand was effectively repositioned in the global marketplace.  No easy feat.

At the end of the day, the most common response to this question usually relates to quality somehow.  It is most certainly a significant component of a country’s branding.  What “Made in the USA” means simply isn’t consistent, and we’re sent mixed messages by the media, industry groups, politicians, unions, etc. What “Made in the USA” means depends on who you ask.

So, we need to think about what we want “Made in the USA” to mean. How do we want to stand out in the global marketplace? Some would argue that “Made in the USA” is cool again, with companies like Apple making U.S. production a component of their social responsibility initiative.  I can’t help but also think of a former student that insisted his products for a new fishing lure business be made here in America. Within that industry, I’d say the strategy would likely be good marketing as well but this individual was serious about it for reasons beyond branding.

I’m not going to say “Made in the USA” is hipster just yet… But, who knows?

The COO Effect:

“Country of origin information constitutes a product trait that is external to the product itself. It serves as a surrogate for product quality, performance, reliability, prestige and other product characteristics that cannot be directly evaluated.

Research has demonstrated that consumers tend to regard products that are made in a given country with consistently positive or negative attitudes. These origin biases seem to exist for products in general as well as for specific products, and for both end-users and industrial buyers alike. The nature and strength of origin effects depend on such factors as the product category, the product stimulus employed in the research, respondent demographics, consumer prior knowledge and experience with the product category, and consumer information processing style.”

Sidenote: Remember “America’s Freedom Fabric”

 

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Inside the Dormitory of a Chinese Factory: The Case for Social Responsibility

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I just got back from spending a couple of weeks in Pro QC’s China offices. I’ll admit I was really excited about this trip, not only for the on-site audit experience I had planned, but because I truly love Asia and it’s most certainly a highlight of my job to be able to travel there.

Over the years, I’ve visited many manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and abroad. I’m here to say that a majority simply don’t replicate what we see on How It’s Made.  I’ve been to factories with dirt floors, poor ventilation, broken down machinery, poorly stored hazardous chemicals, etc. I’ve seen some stuff. But, I can’t say I had ever seen a factory dormitory until this most recent trip…

I talk a lot about social responsibility. Someone once referred to it as my bailiwick, which is fair.  But, I’m here to say I’ve never been more convinced of the value of having organizations invest in this than I am now.

One of the audits I attended during my trip was a SA8000 audit.  This would be my first time getting to experience the human aspect of manufacturing, whereas my previous hands-on experience has always focused on the product.

This particular factory wasn’t too shabby, all things considered. The factory personnel were all very accommodating and I remember thinking it would go quite smoothly.  Around 11am, I noticed everyone heading out to an apartment looking building behind the factory.  I knew it was the dormitory, and I asked if we could stop by there so I could see it while everyone is out and about.  They insisted that it wasn’t owned by the factory and instead operated by a 3rd party. This is part of the scope of the audit, so I asked again later and they agreed.

We get in there after the lunch rush, so no one was in there.  The first thing I noticed were the locks on the outside of the doors.  You know, you don’t want to imagine why someone would need the door locked from the outside but I still can’t think of any reason or purpose that’s legit.  I insisted they needed to be removed and ended up locking our auditor in as an example of why I had a problem with it.  Of course, they agreed to remove them and we will be following up on that and a few other issues that were noted.  But, for real…

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A typical dormitory at a factory is the size of a really large walk-in closet. This particular room had four bunk beds, so eight people per room.  There was a shared bathroom at the rear where the in-ground toilet and shower hose were sharing the same small space.  Running hot or cold water was available from a spigot outside, just down the hall. This is all fine and in compliance with the law.  But, this is where people are living that are making a lot of the stuff you buy. It’s not cheap to buy/rent housing in China, and commutes are time prohibitive and costly as well. The argument for dormitories is logical… until you see one and realize it’s not quite what you remember from college.

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The lady I saw sitting there crouched over a machine stamping metal parts for 8-11 hours (2 hour break included) didn’t look unhappy at all. You know, here I am asking if they have cross-training available so she could avoid occupational injuries as the result of all that repetitive movement.  After a few minutes, it was obvious they couldn’t even conceive of what I was talking about.  Her job is to sit there stamping parts.

So, I guess the point is that I give props to companies that hire companies like Pro QC to go into these factories and help them improve the conditions. It’s a small price to pay that in fact pays for itself. A large part of why I took the job at Pro QC many years ago was the plan to start marketing the SA audits. I continue to support and pursue awareness and action.

I get a surprising number of people asking me why I’d be so excited to visit China…

Sure, there’s smog.  You want to think it’s just a cloudy day or something, but the reality is that there’s pollution.  The Chinese government has invested an absurd amount to clean-up and resolve the problem.  It requires changing a culture too though, and that’s going to take time.  It’s also on us as organizations to support sustainability.

Sure, the food is much different than you’re probably used to.  But, one of the highlights of my visits is eating with our team.  This time, I enjoyed going out with everyone in Ningbo and then celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival with our team in Shenzhen. It’s fun to try new things and get in on the excitement people have about their local fare.  One of the factories was really proud of this year’s yang mei. I could have eaten that whole bowl!

Sure, they are going to speak a different language than you.  But, I’ll tell you it’s not an issue. A memory that will stick with me is one of me standing outside of Starbucks in Shanghai waiting for them to open. A lady that didn’t speak any English at all waved me over and insisted I follow her. After quite the walk, we ended up with this street vendor making dumpling soup and I enjoyed the opportunity to have breakfast with her family. That’s the people there. You just never feel unsafe.

Sure, almost a day of travel to get there is rough.  Yeah… that one is legit.  It’s hard to wrap your head around what 14 hours on a plane feels like. During this trip, I took several planes, the MTR, a ferry, many adventurous taxi rides, and a “fast” train. But, as someone pretty insightful once said, it’s the journey and not the destination that matters.

 

 

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