Monday, December 1, 2008

Absence makes the...

Okay, so I've been busy, hence my absence.

First of all, to finish off the title: Absence makes the...

  • heart grow fonder

  • reader wishing for more

  • regular check in to see if you've been active

  • casual observer forget about you quickly

  • all of the above or

  • none of the above

  • others...

In any case, my absence from this page is due to 2 things that I can name off the bat:

  1. I cannot access the page when I am behind my primary clients' firewall and

  2. I've got a lot on my plate.

Let's talk about the second, only. I recently read a 'gift blog' written by a close friend of mine She spoke about not being able to say 'no' with regard to her volunteer activities. This is a syndrome from which I suffer too. My advice to anyone suffering from not enough time on their hands is to create a time budget. Take the number of hours we all have in one week (168 hours) and subtract out the all the things you know you do each week (work, commuting time, dining, bathroom time, sleep, etc.). At the end of this analysis you should find the extra time you need to do those things you don't have time to do. Now use them wisely.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

On Planning, again...

We are approaching midsummer and I have just begun a new leadership position within ASQ. As of July 1, 2008 I am the Section Affairs Council (SAC) Chair for 1 year. This is a role that I've been working toward for the past year (and in truth, have aspired to since I joined the SAC and the ASQ Board of Directors). In my first post here I said that I was fulfilling a commitment of becoming a blogger. Well, as SAC chair I have also made several commitments including:
  1. Guiding several Regional Directors to reducing the size of their regions by splitting them into 2 regions;
  2. Improving the leadership development in conjunction with my counterpart in Divisions, Steve Wilson, Division Affairs Council (DAC) chair;
  3. Improving communications between SAC and other units within ASQ and
  4. Improving the planning for the business conducted by SAC by developing and managing a functional business plan.

We are on our way to fulfilling these commitments. The business plan is almost complete and in Sep we will have an RD orientation / training event. Part of this event will include the beginning of development of a plan for the following fiscal year (9 months before it needs to be executed). The Structure team is working diligently to identify needs for reducing the size of 4 regions and developing 4 new regions. At the end of the month I will be meeting with Steve Wilson and several ASQ staff members to begin the planing for leadership development activities. And, finally, at our first SAC call of the year we invited the Certifcation Board Chair to speak.

Okay, so why am I telling you all this and what does it have to do with 'David on Quality'. Well, if you followed the discussion above you will see a common thread. That thread is planning. Preparing for any quality related event requires planning. We cannot just jump into a Kaizen event, we cannot initiate SPC tools without a clear purpose, we cannot become a Six Sigma organizaiton without a clear plan of where we are and were we would like to be and we cannot audit an organization without an audit plan. So, my friends, I leave you with this simple thought...Planning is the linking key to all improvment.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Process improvement opportunities

First of all, thank you to everyone that took time to read the blogs from ASQs World Conference on Quality and Improvement. Aimee Siegler, Dennis Arter and I shared out varied experience during out week long stay in Houston, TX. If you would like to read our posts, see the link in my posting below.

Okay, now on to Process Improvement opportunities. Throughout my life, I've seen varying opportunities to improve the processes of different businesses. A recent occurrence during a stay at an NYC hospital is the subject of this discussion...

I was admitted to the hospital on a Friday morning in early spring to repair a herniated disk in my neck. The surgery went well. A awoke in the recovery room and was soon being transported up to a very nice, private room. There were a total of 3 other patients on the floor so you would think that the care would have been exemplary. Well, it was not. Several things occurred that warrent discussion.
  1. When I was brought to the room the nurse asked if I'd need the roll-away bed that evening. In my hazy state I assumed my wife would be heading home to be with the kids. I was wrong. At 10 pm when she thought about going home we noticed that it was raining heavily so we decided it would be best if she stayed the night. It took my nurse over 2 hours to find a bed for Sharon as all the roll-aways were now occupied. (Remember, there were only 3 other people on the floor.)
  2. Very early on Saturday morning I requested alcohol pads from my nurse as I needed to remove stick on probes used for heart monitoring during the surgery. For those that do not know me, I am quite hairy under my shirt. Removing the contact pads without the alcohol pads was quite painful. I made the request no less than 5 times without results. Finally at about 6:30 am I walked down to the nurses station to ask again. What I found there was my nurse with coat on and bag on shoulder ready to leave for home. At that point she said, 'oh yeah, let me get those pads'. By that point I had pulled off the probes plus about 3 pounds of hair and skin.
  3. Before leaving the floor I inquired at the nurses station about validating for the mandatory valet parking. I was told to go to the cashier near the main entrance. So, with bag in hand (actually in Sharon's hand) we headed to the lobby and the was 7:30 am on Saturday morning. What we found was a sign indicating that the cashier opened at 9 am. I went to the valet and was told that they could not validate so I waited in the lobby while Sharon went out to 1st Ave (New York City) to get coffee for herself and a muffin for me. Finally, at 9 am the cashier arrived. She validated my parking ticket and promptly charged me $25 explaining that the validation is only for 24 hours and we had arrived at 6 am the day before so we needed to pay for the additional 3 hours ($25 for 3 hours...highway robbery!!!!). I explained the problem with their process but she would hear nothing of it and suggested I contact Customer Service. Which I did.

So, as stated above, I spoke to customer service once I was feeling a bit better. I offered my services as a Quality Consultant to guide them in resolving their process issues. All I was offered was a refund of the $25 which I took. I have yet to hear from the hospital on my offer to help them resolve internal issues that directly affect their customers. I sense the reason for their avoidance of my offer is that they do not preceive that the patient is a customer. After all, how many patients of a hospital really pay their own bills. The bend over backwards to resolve issues for the insurance companies but those of use directly affected (on an individual basis) by their defective processes are ignored.

Could these and similar issues be resolved with simple process improvements. I say yes...what do you, my faithful readers have to say?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

ASQs World Conference On Quality and Improvement

My friends and loyal readers, I will be participating in ASQs WCQI in Houston, TX this year as one of ASQs bloggers.
I am providing a link here so I 'don't have to repeat myself'!

Hope to see you in Houston!

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Much of what we do in Quality is review specifications and requirements, then interpret what they mean and eventually verify that the product or service is provided in accordance with the specifications. Now here is where we get into trouble. Interpretations may vary between author and reader. Therefore, it is critical that all involved parties communicate to determine exactly what the intention is when there is a perceived deviation in order to prevent 'fuzzy' interpretation. Here are some examples of fuzzy interpretations that are easily resolved through active communication:

1. On one of my projects we are working toward Beneficial Use. This is a customer's contractual term that allows us to put the system into operation with them taking partial ownership and our organization managing the system. We will still have a significant amount of work left on completing the system, yet it may be put in operational mode. Our contract states that once 30% of the test records are submitted, we can request / declare beneficial use on 30% of the system. Next milestone is at 75% and the final is at 100%. We've already achieved 75%+ based on our interpretation. Customer is now telling us that it must be based on the 75% of the system that they determine is necessary, not based on our submittal of the required documentation. To resolve this issue we are completing the final 25% negating any 'fuzzy' interpretation.

2. I recently reviewed a manuscript for a book that explains the upcoming release of ISO 9000 in simple language. The author interpreted the section of the standard that refers to the Management Representative's position differently than I did. He stated emphatically that the Management Rep must be an employee of and member of the organization's Senior Management Team. I disagreed. The management representative must be a member of the organizations senior management team, however (s)he can be a consultant or contractor. So long as the rep has the authority and responsibility of a member of the organization's senior management, then his employment status is irrelevant.

3. I've been auditing Quality Management Systems for about 20 years. I've been trained extensively in the art and science of auditing QMS's. Recently, one of my clients was issued a minor Corrective Action from their ISO 9000 Registrar based upon the lack of credentials for their Internal Auditor - namely me. I argued that my credentials were sound and provided sufficient evidence. I even questioned another registrar's auditor with whom I've worked for nearly 10 years regarding my credentials and he confirmed that I am fully qualified and meet the requirements of the standard. The interpretation of this particular auditor was based on the fact that I have no evidence of receiving specific training in Process Auditing in accordance with ISO 9000:2000. I resolved this one by achieving my RAB-QSA Provisional Auditor Certification.

These are just a small sample of 'fuzzy' interpretation examples. Each was clarified by communication between the involved parties. So my advice for today is do not hesitate to open lines of communications between involved parties in order to prevent incorrect actions based upon 'fuzzy' interpretations.