Is quality a result or a system? [Lessons from the Road]

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 09-16-15

I’ve been writing the Lessons from the Road column for IndustryWeek for many years now, and Leading Lean for Assembly Magazine for many years before that. You’d think I’d run out of topics. But each column continues to challenge me to think a bit more deeply and more clearly about a topic.

In this column, I write about the topic of quality. Quality is usually considered just a result, along with cost, efficiency, delivery. But it is also a system of how you work.

This is an excerpt from the column:

Since quality is dynamic, we cannot just design it out of the system; we have to effectively react to it. Your feedback, and feed-forward, loops must be designed to be visible, relevant and timely. Are you feeding back the right information? Is it getting to the right person or role? And how long does it take to detect the issue, communicate it and react to it? Too often, the feedback isn’t getting either to the people inadvertently causing the problem, or to those who can do something to fix it. And if it is, we create multiple quality signals that tell us eight different things in eight different ways. Which one am I supposed to react to? You can’t react to the top issue on eight different signal inputs. You must design your feedback systems so that people can see the entire problem landscape and then make good decisions about where to put their resources.

I encourage you to read the entire column here, and please share your thoughts, questions, and comments with me.