29 October 2012

Must the quality function go beyond its traditional role of inspection and problem solving?

Recently, the questions was asked, "Must the quality function go beyond its traditional role of inspection and problem solving?"

The 'Quality Function' is 'Deployed' across the organization formally with QFD. This puts the “F” in QFD.

What this means is that the quality function is engaged during business planning, project chartering, customer identification and exploration (questionnaires, customer gemba visits, etc.) design and development, build and implementation (manufacturing, service design, software development), testing, logistics, commercialization, support, etc.

image - turning the circle of quality with QFD
Why such a broad mandate? Because quality professionals are capable of assuring that all the other activities are done with quality thinking – PDCA, root cause analysis, SMART metrics, rigorous auditing and use of statistical methods, customer satisfaction measurement, and so on. Leave the quality guys out and numbers will be flying around to “prove” whatever the squeakiest wheels want.

Related reads...

20 October 2012

Delivering crystal-clear brand identity from end-to-end

"Drunk With Power," an October 14, 2012 New York Times article by Daniel Duane, describes an on-line wine seller named Jon Rimmerman Jon, who earned  his retail cred while at Starbucks. Jon summarizes it as this:

photo of wine
 “the beauty of retail marketing … can be roughly translated as defining a crystal-clear brand identity and then ensuring that everything from the product to customer relations reinforces it."

I like his words, and would like to give them a QFD flavor.

The purpose of modern Blitz QFD® is to define and prioritize with crystal clarity, that which is most important to the customer, and then ensure that everything from the product to customer relations reinforces it.

Let me explain.

"Crystal clarity" of what matters most to customers. In QFD, this means having a customer need that truly states the value proposition to the customer. Typically, this is the benefit a customer receives from having a problem solved, an opportunity enabled, or image enhanced. It should be independent of the product, its features, and its technology. A Voice of Customer (VOC) statement such as "fits in my pocket" is not a customer need, but rather a fuzzy set of dimensions.

With the Customer Voice table, a Blitz QFD® tool, you can translate that into true customer needs such as "I can carry with me easily," "Easy to store in my pocket," "Easy to retrieve from my pocket," "Stays in my pocket when I move around," "Does not damage my pocket,"  etc. This helps us understand these true benefits and avoid later design mistakes resulting in "the product falling on floor when I lean over," "the product tearing my pocket off," "the product is too hard to remove from my pocket when I want to get it out quickly," etc.

Crystal clarity means the need statement must be at a sufficient level of detail to be actionable in design, which is typically a tertiary level on a customer needs hierarchy. Abstract expressions such as "convenient" should be deployed to more detail.

Crystal clarity also means that we have accurate priority values. The QFD community replaced the 1960s' ordinal scale weights with AHP-derived ratio scale weights in the mid-1980s, first in Japan and then later in the US. Unfortunately, most English language QFD books and articles were written before this and missed the update. Even today, new QFD texts still cite these early works, and continue the math errors resulting from using ordinal weights in both customer needs and matrix relationships, as well as misuse of matrices including using a House of Quality matrix (HOQ) when it is not needed.

click to go to International QFD Green Belt® Certificate Course
This is why the QFD Institute Green Belt® and Black Belt® courses are strongly recommended for professionals in product/service/business development, marketing, design, sigma/lean/DMAIC black belts and so forth. You will learn how to use the modern AHP approach and we provide updated Excel templates. Without AHP clarity, your limited resources risk missing what is truly important and deploying lower priority things.

"Ensuring that everything from product to customer relations reinforces it" is the QFD call for end-to-end quality assurance. Depending on your industry, product, and company, this will vary, but typically describes, end-to-end, the full development, commercialization, and retirement of the product, service, or software. In other words, we must assure that any weakness related to the most important customer needs are made robust. For example, if poor packaging compromises the sterility of a medical supply item, it becomes scrap (let's hope!), wastes money, ruins reputations, could result in injury or death, etc., no matter how well the function and performance of the item was designed.

In classical QFD, each of the design, develop, test, procure, produce, assemble, package, ship, store, sell, support, and other commercialization dimensions has its own matrix. Since the matrix only compares two dimensions at at time, anywhere from four to thirty matrices have been identified in the literature. Maybe in the 1960s-80s, we had enough time and people to analyze these, but that is difficult these days.

In Blitz QFD®, all these matrices have been replaced for the most part by a single Maximum Value table. One tool goes end-to-end through all the dimensions. How do we do it – with crystal clarity focus on what matters most to customers. This is where we apply our best efforts, first. Makes sense, doesn't it? The Maximum Value table is one of the key tools taught in the QFD Green Belt® Course and QFD Black Belt® Course.

Additional training dates will be published at QFD Training & Events Calendar as they become confirmed. Or you can e-mail to us.

13 October 2012

QFD for high-speed rail, IT projects, smartphones, education, telecom industry, and political campaign

The previous post (Election-earing: how QFD helped a candidate truly hear the Voice of the Constituent) previewed the first-of-its-kind political campaign case study. In addition, these exciting presentations are planned for The 24th Symposium on QFD, November 2, 2012 in St. Augustine, Florida.

The transactions of this symposium will become available to public in May 2013, but the most privileged content is often shared with the symposium audience only. In addition, the 2012 symposium includes a mini tutorial on Hoshin Kanri (Policy Management).

Come join us to learn and network. This will be also a good chance to get your QFD questions answered and receive tips on how to apply these tools in your project.
Registration is still open.
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"Going to the Gemba: Number Two with a Bullet"

photo of a Chinese bullet train
The first generation of Chinese bullet trains was marred with design flaws that manifested in the catastrophic July 2011 accident which killed at least 40 people and injured more than 200 (NYTimes.com, Dec. 28, 2011). For the second generation hi-speed trains, Tangshan Railway Vehicle Company decided to try QFD to address the previous deficiencies.

The symposium presentation will share the traditional QFD approach and tools used in this project, as well as the unique gemba story in a country where the central government and Chinese Ministry of Railways believe that they speak for everyone and represent the voice of the customers.  
Speaker: Jack B. ReVelle, Ph.D., ReVelle Solutions, LLC (USA)

"Change Fix Model"

graphic - managing changes
Some of the issues that add complication to IT projects include volatility of customer requirements and assessing risks involving changes. The Change Fix Model aims to improve agility of the estimation by using lean and QFD tools, enabling assessment of the impact of a change into the entire software lifecycle, starting with a regression model for establishing the relationship between impact of change and additional effort for implementing the change.

Using a CTQ drill down tree, which is one of the mechanisms to implement QFD, the paper is the first of its kind to measure the impact of a change by using a regression model. This will be presented by using a case of a major communications player.  
Speaker: Karthik Jegannathan, Cognizant Technologies Solutions (India/USA)

"Repertory Grid – Potential for Requirements Management in the Quality Function Deployment - An Example of the German Smartphone Market"

photo - smartphone users
This research by German scholars proposes integration of cognitive psychology science, the Repertory Grid Technique (RGT), into QFD. In evaluating quality/performance of a product/service, customers follow unconscious personal perceptions, besides consideration of physical properties such as size, color, functions, etc. It is these unconsciously perceived characteristics that play an important role in the decision making process.

Repertory Grid Technique is based on the Personal Construct Theory, a constructivist theory that contends that people experience, organize, and describe their environment in terms of cognitive personal concepts that can be distilled into bipolar verbal labels. From its initial application in psychological diagnosis, the method has evolved to a set of general guidelines used in a wide variety of application domains, including environmental studies, education, healthcare, business, and it can be useful in identification of customer requirements in QFD analysis. The symposium presentation will use a case of German smartphone market to introduce RGT and show how it can be used in QFD analysis.
Speaker: Philipp Tursch, Chair Quality Management, Cottbus University of Technology (Germany)

"Elementary QFD: Using QFD to Assess and Evaluate the Learning Environment of a Private School Library and to Systematically Engage an ISACS Review"

photo - school library
A Modern Blitz QFD® application in a non-traditional customer/product model – a school. Emerson School, a private school in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is in the midst of undergoing a review by The Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS). The project goal was to identify key customers and translate their Voice of Customer as well as ISACS criteria into true customer needs.

Often organizations act on a situation without fully determining the true needs of stakeholders that would reveal the important context or unstated factor, leading to inadequate solutions or even exacerbated situations. This occurred several years ago. QFD gemba study revealed the largest and unexpected hindrances to the current learning environment in the library media center. These observations and customer verbatims were translated into true needs and fully ordered using paired comparisons in the Analytic Hierarchy Process. Finally, the highest ranking needs were evaluated on a systematic level, addressing potential causes for concern such as difficulties of implementation, perception of teachers and students, as well as resources like cost, time and effort.  
Speaker: Ken Mazur, QFD Black Belt®, Japan Business Consultants, Ltd., USA

"Implementing Quality Function Deployment to Improve Service Quality and Customer Satisfaction: A Three Stages Empirical Approach in Jordanian Mobile Telecommunication"

photo - telecommmunications
The aim of this research is to develops a conceptual model that integrates the SERVQUAL Gap model and QFD to help telecom companies in Jordan explore service quality shortfalls and improve customer satisfaction. The first stage involved designing, administering and analyzing the SERVQUAL framework questionnaire.

The study population comprises all Jordanian mobile telecommunications companies (Zain, Orange, and Umniah) located in Amman, the capital of Jordan. There is a gap between expectations and experience in all service quality dimensions. QFD model will be used to close these gaps.  
Speaker: Tasneem Alfalah, Glasgow Caledonian University (UK)

"QFD and Politics (A Sure Way To Start An Argument)"

image - election campaign flyer
First of its kind, this paper reports the use of Modern Blitz QFD® tools in an actual political campaign for a Florida county judgeship. The primary focus was to understand how to: 1) select target segments; 2) use the voice (top needs) of the target segment customers to develop the strategy; 3) create messaging; and 4) deploy the messaging to the targeted segment.

This application uniquely deploys downstream using the Voice of Constituents data to make strategic and operational decisions. For example, what sort of true “customer needs” can be identified from this verbatim voice of voters — “what do you think about the Chick-fil-A case?” Read more on this paper in the previous post...
Speaker: Carey Hepler, QFD Black Belt®, Solantic Urgent Care (USA)

Skills Building Exercise: Hoshin Kanri mini tutorial

illustration - policy management and navigation
Hoshin Kanri is a systematic quality approach to planning, executing, auditing, and managing corporate vision and business strategy. It is a company-wide strategic management system that uses common QFD tools to visually indicate the relationships between executive-level targets and the means to achieve them, and those of direct reports. In this mini workshop, attendees will be introduced to the basic concept and application of how Hoshin Kanri works through an easy-to-follow example and hands-on exercise.
Instructor: Glenn Mazur, QFD Red Belt®, QFD Institute

Events Schedule (PDF)

How to attend...

04 October 2012

Election-earing: how QFD helped a candidate truly hear the Voice of the Constituent

The U.S. presidential debates are underway wobbling between the wonkiest details on debt retirement to cartoonish attacks in Sesame Street’s Big Bird. Equally, the media swing between fact checking and photogenic charisma. Voters are encouraged to make intelligent choices, but how should candidates present themselves in order to make this less frustrating?
“QFD is the art and science of taking the voice of the customer, and, more specifically, the top needs of the targeted customer segments, into consideration before developing a product or service.  Can this technique be applied to a political campaign?”

This lofty question is going to be answered and the specific steps using Modern Blitz QFD® tools will be presented at the upcoming 24th Symposium on QFD on November 2, 2012, “QFD and Politics — A Sure-fire Way to Start An Argument” by Carey W. Hepler, QFD Black Belt®and Operations Director of Care Spot Express Healthcare.

Carey’s case study involves an actual election campaign by his wife Ruth Ann for a Florida county judgeship. The primary focus of the paper is to understand how to: 1) select target segments; 2) use the voice (top needs) of the target segment customers to develop the strategy; 3) creating the message and; 4) deploy the messaging to the targeted segments for a campaign.

For example, what sort of true “customer needs” can be identified from this verbatim voice of voters — “what do you think about the Chick-fil-A case?” and then what kind of a campaign strategy and slogan should be deployed?

Carey’s QFD application is solid and innovative (he is a full status QFD Black Belt® after all). This interesting paper deploys downstream using the data to make strategic and operational decisions. Carey’s presentation is worth every campaign dollar.

Customer Voice Table - Verbatims from the Campaign Trail, by Carey W. Hepler, 24th Symposium on QFD, 2012