07 November 2012

People of the 2012 QFD Symposium

Once again new case studies were shared and emerging ideas were brought to the public last Friday at the 24th Symposium on QFD in sunny St. Augustine, Florida USA.This year’s presentation topics were as unique and diverse as the presenters, whose hard work and dedication was greatly appreciated.

Even in today’s trend toward everything virtual, face-to-face interactions produce much deeper impact and networking bonds, we’ve found. Let us introduce some of the wonderful individuals we met at this year’s symposium:
Carey Hepler presented the first of its kind QFD application on the timeliest topic – politics. His project involved the election campaign in which his wife was a candidate for a local judiciary seat. He applied the Modern QFD tools to listen to the constituents’ voice, identify target segments, their needs and priorities, and finally develop the campaign strategy and deploy it in the most respectful way that we voters wish every candidate would.
photo - Carey Hepler presenting "QFD and Politics"
By the time Carey completed his presentation, there was an outpouring sense of support and respect for Team Hepler from the symposium audience. We were captivated by this unique application of QFD and also appreciated the level of challenge that even the most qualified candidate can face solely because of the nature of politics.

Carey Hepler is a Certified QFD Black Belt® and 2010 Akao Prize® recipient. He has presented several QFD papers, including: “Finding Customer Delights” (2006 International QFD Symposium); “The Analytic Hierarchy Process: Methodologies and Application with Customers and Management” (2007 International QFD Symposium); “Getting Personal: How Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida used Customized Communications to Reach its Members” (Journal of Healthcare Communications – 2008); “Predicting Future Health Insurance Scenarios Using QFD and Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP)” (2008 American Society of Quality).
Carey currently works for Solantic Urgent Care, where he leads the operations of their walk-in urgent care centers and the development of an expansion blueprint. Prior to that, Carey was with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, AT&T Universal Card, and Citibank.

Jack B. ReVelle, Ph.D., presented his unique experience in consulting Tangshan Railway Vehicle Company in China and the challenges of introducing quality methods in a country where the government believes it speaks for everyone.
photo - Jack ReVelle at 2012 symposium on QFD
After the catastrophic accident of the nation’s first generation bullet train that resulted in dozens of fatalities, the Chinese engineers self-studied the QFD Capture® software and a House of Quality matrix in hope of addressing the quality and safety issues that manifested in the 2011 accident.  Jack was invited to consult the Chinese team on some of the QFD techniques and analytic methods such as gemba study, how to convert the VOC data to specifications, thematic content analysis, MS Excel® sorting, affinity and Pareto analysis.
Unfortunately, the project became mired in multiple interests competing for authority including the Chinese Ministry of Railways, and basic communication became difficult and the line of decision making and progress unclear. It was a telling moment when one member of the symposium audience asked Jack, “Will you ride this new bullet train in China?” We do hope the Chinese heed his advice.

Jack ReVelle is a consulting statistician and the principal of ReVelle Solutions, LLC. He has received many honors throughout his career, including the 1999 Akao Prize®. We’ve known Jack from the old days of QFD but during the St. Augustine meet, we discovered that he was the commander of the U.S. Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team that was involved with the “Broken Arrows” incident in Goldsboro, the 1961 nuclear weapons mishap where a strategic bomber B-52 disintegrated in mid-air in North Carolina and Jack’s team was dispatched to take care of the two atomic bombs that fell out of the aircraft. We hear a new movie is being considered based on this and look forward to Jack’s heroic history being told in movie theaters.

Karthik Jeganathan presented the "Change Fix Model” for IT projects where volatility of customer needs and design requirements is always a big challenge.
The model aims at improving agility of the change risk estimation by using lean and QFD tools. It measures the impact of a change by using a regression model, enabling assessment of the impact from a change through the entire software lifecycle, starting with a regression model for establishing the relationship between impact of change and additional effort for implementing the change. This provides a mechanism to measure the volatility and score the quality of the requirements with respect to the importance of prioritizing and baseline requirement changes in agile as well as a non-agile environments.
Karthik presented a case of a major communications company and the evaluation of the method which showed near 80% estimation accuracy. The tools used for the Change Fix Model include: a) CTQ drill down tree; b) Effort benefit matrix; c) Regression model; d) RCA and Pareto; and e) Likert scale scoring using percentiles and box plots.
Karthik works as a Senior Six Sigma and Transformation consultant at Cognizant Business Consulting Team, both in India and the USA. He has 10 years of industry experience working in Management and Transformation Consulting, is a MBB, CISA, and Certified ITIL V3 Foundation Professional.

photo - Tasneem Alfalah presenting her research at 2012 QFD symposium
Tasneem Alfalah aims to develop a conceptual model that integrates the SERVQUAL Gap model and QFD for Jordanian mobile telecommunications industry that has become a viable force to the nation’s economy. This study is currently in the first stage where a questionnaire based on the SERVQUAL framework is being designed, administered and analyzed. The study population will comprise all Jordanian mobile telecommunication companies located in Amman, the nation’s capital.
The QFD model will be useful for evaluating the customer satisfaction vs. actual experience of service level, identifying the quality shortfalls and weak attributes, and finally presenting the areas of immediate improvement as well as attractive attributes that would help their business continues to grow in the future. 

Tasneem Alfalah received an MSc in Quality Management from the University of Jordan in 2010. She next worked as a lecturer and research assistant for one year before being granted a scholarship from her undergraduate alma mater Applied Science University to continue her Ph.D. studies in Glasgow Caledonian University in U.K. where she is currently in her second year.
We congratulate Tasneem for having completed the QFD Green Belt® Course in St. Augustine, receiving a provisional certificate. Next year she plans to attend the QFD Black Belt® Certificate Course. We look forward to finding out how she would incorporate the new knowledge of Modern QFD tools in her research approach.

photo - Philipp Tursch presenting "Repertory Grid Technique" at 2012 QFD symposium
Dipl.-Ing. Philipp Tursch, a Ph.D. candidate at the Chair of Quality Management, Brandenburg University of Technology in Cottbus, Germany, presented the Repertory Grid Technique and its potential use in QFD. The Repertory Grid Technique was developed in 1955, initially as a clinical methodology for interviewing patients for psychological diagnoses. It has since evolved to a set of general guidelines used in a wide variety of domains including environmental studies, education, healthcare, business and quality management where it is tried as a way to determine the unconscious, individual and elusive dimensions of customer perception.

Philipp’s research focuses on potential integration of this method in product development and QFD, namely in identifying customer preference concerning a new product. He showed how it works by using an example of German smart phones where a range of physical characteristics were shown to potential consumers and their preference for physical attributes of the mock phones were tabulated.

This was Philipp’s first presentation of his research in the U.S. The methodology has a similar feel to Kansei Engineering, except Kansei abstracts up to a high level brand concept, by encompassing both physical and emotional attractiveness, and using a series of regression and multivariate math. We look forward to future progress in Philipp’s research.

photo - Ken Mazur, presenter of a Blitz QFD case study for an elementary school, 2012 Symposium on QFD
Ken Mazur presented a Modern Blitz QFD® case in a non-traditional model – a school (K-8). He shared several unique insights that often go unnoticed:
  1. In schools, the end-user / primary customer (students) typically have the least influence over educational decisions even though they are most affected by them; 
  2. the secondary customer (parents who pay the tuition) have a greater role in decision-making for their children’s education even though their educational expectations reflect more on their own past experience, not necessarily future needs; 
  3. often organizations act on a situation without fully determining the true needs of the stakeholders, jumping on reactive solutions that address problems inadequately or sometimes even exacerbate it and waste resources; 
  4. functional isolation resulting from departmental divides hinders organizations from seeing a large picture when day-to-day problems are reported by individual departments, and their impact on the whole organizational performance is underestimated unless a systematic method like QFD is used and the analytic results can be documented in a way that is visible to everyone.
In his debut QFD case, Ken managed to deploy Modern QFD fully, from the initial Gemba study to VOC analysis that revealed unexpected findings, AHP evaluation of priorities, and suggestions for systematic deployment of solutions on the most important needs, taking into consideration school resources and ease of implementation.

Ken hopes to conduct the second phase of QFD with this school, eventually training the school staff so they would be able to utilize QFD tools and thinking on their own in the future. Ken’s primary interest is working with non-profits and NGOs that would benefit from using QFD to better serve their communities.

Next year, the QFD Institute will host the 19th International Symposium on QFD in Santa Fe, New Mexico on September 6-7, 2013. Everyone is welcome to participate, whether you are new to QFD,  studied it many years ago, currently actively using it, or plan to try it in a future project.

Call For Papers is now in effect for those who wish to present at the 2013 symposium. We expect many QFD experts from overseas, including Dr. Yoji Akao, founder of QFD methodology. So please plan to join us next year!

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