22 January 2016

Modern QFD tools for Gemba study

One of the most frequently asked questions about customer gemba visits is what questions to prepare in advance.

Gemba preparations depend greatly on the type of QFD project. Is it an improvement, a refresh, an upgrade, a new technology, a next generation, or totally new to the world?

The new ISO 16355 for QFD explains the process in Part 2 (ISO/DIS 16355-2). Modern QFD offers specific tools for this, including the customer process model and gemba visit table, and this critical part of QFD is taught in detail in the QFD Green Belt®.

The most important thing to remember during a Gemba visit is to encourage your customer to speak openly about what frustrates them, not just product complaints. Use the gemba visit to discover what you don't know you don't know. A January 2, 2016 article in The New York Times by Pagan Kennedy "How to Cultivate the Art of Serendipity" calls this wonderfully, "the art of finding what we're not seeking."

(an illustration of the Persian poem describing the Three Princes of Serendip, {PD-US})
illustration of the Persian tale
source: wikipedia {PD-US}
The article explains the history of the word 'Serendipity' to a Persian fairy tale about three princes from the Isle of Serendip who have super powers of observation — a skill, not just dumb luck. Three types of observers are identified by University of Missouri information scientist, Sanda Erdelez:
  •  Non-encounterers who stick to a preferred list;   
  •  Occasional encounterers who have moments of serendipity;
  • Super-encounterers who have happy surprises wherever they look.
Among a super-encounterer, these are some of their attributes:
  • Open to ideas that evolve on an unrelated project.
  • Transform mistakes into a breakthrough.
  • See patterns that others don't see.
Readers familiar with the modern QFD tools may recognize some of these attributes. You can master these tools and techniques and you too can become a "serendipiter."
  1. Gemba visits should be conducted by...
  2.  ....
  3.  ...  Read the full article at www.qfdi.org