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Existential purpose

As this is the first post on the website, I have thought a lot about what I should write, what topic to talk about. Naturally, the logical thing is to begin at the beginning, from what Quality Assurance is, its purpose.

But then I realized, that in order to explain what Quality Assurance is, it’s best to start with what was is not.

Many, way too many people think that the purpose of Quality Assurance is… like policemen: to stop “offences”’ “failures” and “problems” from occurring. And if they or some of them still insist on occurring – well, to “catch” those responsible and make sure they do it no more.

I find this an old, tired and inherently erroneous view, which has long outstayed its welcome. The only thing it can possibly produce is resistance and lack of cooperation, a sort of conflict built into the formula even before its application.

Illustration: policemen

An ongoing constant conflict is the main reason that Quality Assurance people wear down quickly at their workplaces. This constant conflict, this unceasing strife between the management on the one side, who don’t really understand the whole purpose of why we are here, but bows to the ISO demand and is therefore forced to tolerate “the irritating and unnecessary bureaucracy”; and the operators on the other side, who, justifiably, feel resentment that someone is always breathing down their neck and waiting to catch them making a mistake. I can’t really blame them, truth be told. Does anyone like being checked after and inspected? Anyone likes to do the same job twice? 

Thus said the Sages.
Quotes by people worth heeding:

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

— Mahatma Gandhi

So, if not “organizational police”, what is our purpose?

Oh well, here comes the much over-beaten slogan: constant improvement.

Ah. Good luck. Because, everyone knows that in Israel…

Well, that’s the problem. Constant improvement is a nice slogan, but it requires a few prerequisites.

  1. Maintaining quantifiable and realistic indices, reflecting all the parameters we wish to improve. That is… everywhere, in every department and every function.
  2. True and real-time measurement of the processes where the same indices are defined. And, ladies and gentlemen, make no mistake: it is not the Quality Assurance people who are responsible for the measurement and even the collection and analysis of these data, but each department and function is responsible for its own indices.
  3. Analysis of the past trends and comparison to the current state.
  4. Cooperation between all the measured departments and functions.
  5. Problem-solving methodology.

And if you thought the first 4 paragraphs difficult, then the last tops them all. Most people’s eyes glaze over when this point is mentioned. Methodology? What methodology?

Process results improvement is only possible if we make changes in the process inputs or in the process itself. And both require root cause analysis of the existing results, whether non-conformance exists or there is only the need for improvement. And in order to discover the root cause and their solutions, methodical, systematic approach is required. As opposed to trial and error, invention on the spot, as is the usual practice.

The good news is: not only such methodology exists, but we can and must learn it. This is the purpose of our existence, after all! It is what allows real and effective constant improvement to take place!

The original diagram was taken from the article Systematic Problem Solving at the CSence company website.

Diagram: Problem-Solving Methodology
Diagram: Problem-Solving Methodology
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