29 June 2012

Our QFD Community – a home for young professionals and scholars from around the world

One of the pleasures of the QFD Symposia is the chance to meet young professionals and scholars from around the world. We'd like to share some of their stories as a way to invite readers of this blog to join our community as a presenter, writer, or attendee.

The opportunity is best explained by this mail we received recently from Dr. Francisco Tamayo-Enríquez, one of our colleagues in Mexico who, after earning his Ph.D.,  was named in the November 2011 issue of the American Society for Quality's Quality Progress magazine as one of the top young professionals making a true quality difference in their organizations.

”(the word) ‘Sharing’ in Spanish means not only to inform, but also to express gratitude.  I need to recognize that the beginning of my “international” career was because of the enthusiasm and support that I received from the QFD Institute and QFD community. Therefore, this recognition is also to the QFD community that had supported me during all these years and allowed me to have a lot of satisfactions and professional growth. Thank you very much sensei (teacher), for this invaluable opportunity.

"I owe a lot of my recognition to my QFDI community, teachers, workmates and students. To be able to stand in front of an international, English-speaking community, to write technical papers, to be able to participate and lead in modern-correct-useful QFD projects and to teach my students." 
Another QFD colleague from Mexico, Verónica González Bosch, was also recognized in the ASQ magazine's top young professionals list. Verónica received the Akao Prize® in 2006 and runs the Spanish language QFDLAT.com website.

These messages speak to the community of all QFD professionals to support our next generation of QFD experts. How can we help?

image of QFD symposium transactions
Beyond the formality of paper presentations, the Symposium is a forum of idea exchange and mutual learning. It offers an opportunity to see real world applications as they happen, something way beyond what is covered in textbooks. More important, it offers an opportunity to network with and get feedback from experts on QFD implementation, research, which tools to use, and even thesis guidance.

Over the years, we've met many talented young people from all over the world through the Symposium. For example, one Ph.D. student from Serbia, Dr. Miljan Radunovic, contacted us a couple of years ago. Through a series of emails, we encouraged him to write up his situation. At the 2011 International QFD Symposium in Germany, this young man identified himself, saying that the paper we persuaded him to write not only got him accepted for the Symposium and earn his Ph.D., but also landed him a good job right out of school and a sponsorship to travel to the Symposium.

Dr. Catherine Chan was another Ph.D. student with a serious dedication. She wanted to help the Hong Kong clothing and textile industry transform their traditional OEM business model into a more competitive global player. Her first QFD paper, using classical QFD tools, was presented at the 2005 International QFD Symposium. Since then, she has taken up every opportunity to learn Modern QFD, first enrolling in the QFD Green Belt® Course and eventually earning her full-status QFD Black Belt® this year. She now heads the Hong Kong QFD Association and teaches at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

In the 1990s, we got to know Dr. Fatih Yenginol, a young scholar from Turkey, when he first attended the QFD Symposium in Michigan, and later as a student in the advanced QFD courses, and finally as a speaker. He laid the foundation for QFD education at his Dokuz Eylul University, organizing their first Turkish QFD Symposium in 2002 and later posthumously receiving the Akao Prize® in 2005. Although illness cut his life short at a young age, his legacy has been passed down to successive generations of scholars at the university, who hosted the 2005 International Symposium on QFD and additional QFD Green Belt® courses for Turkish industry. Dr. Aysun Kapucugil Ikiz, also of Dokuz Eylul University received an Akao scholarship, as well.

Other students in our QFD community have become a specialists in their own fields. We met Dr. Anders Gustafsson also at a U.S. QFD Symposium many years ago when he traveled from the Linkoping University in Sweden where he was a Ph.D. Student. He was instrumental in bringing the Third International QFD Symposium there in 1997. Anders is a recipient of the 1999 Akao Prize® for QFD, and he has gone on to become a leading scholar in the field of Conjoint Analysis.

These are some of the young talents who grew up in our QFD community and have gone on to great careers. If you are or know someone like them, we invite you to come see us at the upcoming QFD Symposium in St. Augustine, Florida on November 2, 2012.

If you wish to be a speaker, we invite you to send an abstract. To learn the best practice tools and methods of Modern QFD, we recommend attending the QFD Green Belt® Course offered at the symposium.

19 June 2012

Big Soda and Obesity Fishbone Analysis

image of a large soda drinkNew York City mayor Bloomberg made headlines recently by proposing a ban on the sale of sugary soda that is larger than 16 ounces (473 milliliters). He explained it as “a way to fight obesity in a city that spends billions of dollars every year on weight-related health problems.”

The mayor’s proposal is stirring up a myriad of debates, from anti-junk food / sugary drink movement, freedom of choice, food stamp, school lunch program, political motive to healthcare cost management, universal health care, and legislative legality. “What’s next on the list? Large slices of pizza? Double-scoop ice cream cones? Tubs of movie-theater popcorn? The 16-ounce strip steak?” asked a newspaper.

Well, obesity is a national problem. According to the CDC, an estimated 30 percent of U.S. adults (over 60 million people) can be classified as obese. One study said that obesity adds $190 billion in the nation’s health cost [msnbc.com 4/30/2012].

We applaud the mayor’s good intentions and willingness to tackle the obesity problem. But obesity has so many causes. Is the oversized sugary soda the major one?

So here we‘ve tried a simple quality tool, a fishbone diagram.

fishbone analysis of obesity causes and effects by QFDI

What comes next is further studies to determine which cause has the high contribution to obesity and what would be the most effective and efficient solutions to address this cause.

But until the mayor can prove that an oversized sugary soda indeed has the highest contribution, the proposed soda ban may only have a minimal effect on the war against obesity.

12 June 2012

How we use Blitz QFD® in our venue decision

The gap between industry-defined luxury (product-out thinking) and customer needs (market-in thinking)  was the topic of a recent QFDI newsletter “Defining Luxury for Today’s Business Travelers.” A survey by an online hotel reservation service confirmed some of the topics raised, according to the June 2012 issue of Michigan Meetings and Events.

“Browsing the Internet over a plate of waffles is a guest’s real idea of luxury,” was an example cited in the magazine with nearly 40% of the survey respondents agreeing that free Wi-Fi is the most important amenity (except for the seniors, who valued free breakfast more than free internet). Another finding was that 23% of female respondents considered designer toiletries a perk in their luxury hotel experience, while only 12% of men agreed. Conversely, 27% of men said they place high value on access to a premium workout facility, while only 19% for women. It should be noted that the survey was done with guests of all ages who used the online reservation service of hotels.com.

As mentioned in the newsletter, we recently conducted a site visit for a future symposium and applied QFD thinking. For example, over the years (the 2012 Symposium on QFD will be the 24th consecutive year) we have seen a shift in our attendees from automotive engineers to more representation from health care services and software and IT developers. Automotive engineers were local and drove to our Detroit area venue, so convenient highways and parking were most important.

As the attendees profiles changed and we began holding the symposium in other parts of the U.S., the quality of city life and availability of evening activities (fun bars and restaurants after a grueling day of study) became important. Based on attendee  questions and comments before, during, and after the conferences, we have seen evolving needs and priorities each year. This is our gemba where we learn about our customers – you, the QFD professional.

When we make a site-visit for future conference venues, part of our job is to represent your needs when examining meeting facilities, observing how hotel staff interact with guests, and discovering interesting evening activities in the area. Of course, it would be nice if the hotel's and convention bureau's glossy brochures, websites, and sales force could describe these things remotely, but that is not often the case. Visiting the venue (our future gemba), is still the best way to "walk in the shoes" of our attendees.

photo of 2012 QFD symposium venue, Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront
This year’s symposium will be at the Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront hotel. Our site visit to the nation’s oldest and continuously inhabited European settlement took place a little over a year ago.  We spent three days visiting several hotels recommended by the local CVB (St. Augustine & Ponte Vedra Visitors and Convention Bureau), presenting your needs, listening to each property's offerings, and experiencing first-hand how well the service level and facility quality would meet your most important needs.

Blitz QFD® tools such as the Maximum Value Table help align the product and service capabilities defined by the hotel’s proposal with the needs and expectations of our customers. We then analyze the overall best value to our attendees using AHP. Your needs become the criteria in our venue selection.

Because we know what you want, we are able to negotiate from a position of strength, and work hard to contract the best location for the best guest room price.  Many of the restrictions hotels place on groups such as meeting room rental fees, minimum number of guest rooms, meal costs, etc. we are able to beat because of the clear prioritization AHP provides.

aerial view of Castillo de San Marcos fort
So join us this year. The Hilton St. Augustine is located right in the historic area within steps from many restaurants and shops. Castillo de San Marcos national park (right photo) is within walking distance, as are an authentic pirate museum, and other attractions. St. Augustine is also a good base to explore many pristine beaches of Florida, including the nearby Anastasia State Park, and the early November weather should be warm and pleasant. Several world-class golf courses and the World Golf Hall of Fame are also nearby.

Tell us how well we do with this year's Symposium venue selection.
Both Registrations for the 2012 Symposium and QFD courses as well as hotel reservations are now open for the October 31 – November 9, 2012 event. See http://www.qfdi.org/ for more details. Below is a quick rundown of the events:

October 31-November 1

November 2

November 3

November 4-9

03 June 2012

How to lose a customer

Yesterday, a leading international car rental agency rolled out a new customer loyalty program which links a customer to an advanced profile. So, the next time you reserve a car, all of the standard information questions are already answered. You only have to go to the rental lot to retrieve your car – your credit card, drivers license, vehicle preference, etc. are all in your profile.

I received an email announcement requesting me to complete my profile from a special web site. As you can imagine, there are a lot of questions so the web form takes about 10 minutes to fill out correctly.

When I finally finished and hit the "Enroll Now" button on the last page, I get the following message:

"We´re Sorry...  XXX.com has not properly responded to your request.
You can use your browser´s back button and resubmit your request now. In many cases, this second attempt will be executed fully. You can try again in a few minutes. If the problem persists, please contact XXX and provide PROBLEM CODE."
image of computer error and irated customerOf course, there is no "problem code" given. And after many, repeated attempts to enroll, I finally gave up.  Do they really want my business?

From a VOC perspective, let's analyze some customer needs.

For the rent-a-car: I want a car that meets my driving purpose. I want to get started on my travel as soon as possible. I want to know my rental charges before I rent.

For the website: I want my personal data to be secure. I want to enter data only one time. I want to complete the enrollment quickly.

It seems to me the customer profile intended to address the rent-a-car needs does quite well by allowing me to store my preferences and required data in advance. But, in attempting to collect that information, the web enrollment process failed completely. Such disconnect between the Marketing campaign and IT performance seems to happen more frequently these days. Previously I discussed a similar IT delivery issue in "QFD requires end-to-end including customer support".

As for this car rental agency, if the company cannot create my profile, then I doubt my rental needs for car selection and speed will not be met. So, I will probably choose another rent-a-car company next time.

Do you have a similar experience? Please share it with us, and include some VOC analysis of your own.