ASQ Lean and Six Sigma Conference – Day 1

Back again this year in sunny Phoenix for the ASQ Lean and Six Sigma Conference

These are all my rough, first draft impressions. So it will be mostly stream of conscience.

The Six Sigma Forum Award for the Advancement of Six Sigma is a mouth full. Dr Jamison Kovach. Awards are one part of the professional society experience that I do not really understand why we do them, but Dr Kovach has contributed to the field and is certainly deserving. I’m glad to see her get all the recognition that we can give her for her continued contributions.

Morning keynote is “The Art of Leading Change in the Age of Quality 4.0” by Greg Watson

Greg is a distant past president of the ASQ, and I think it is important to stress distant as that perspective informs much of his speaking. Whenever I hear Greg I always feel like I’m back in the late 1990s and then I have an urge to check on y2k projects.

But as a consultant, he had to get on board with the tsunami that is industrial transformation. And to be fair, I’m impressed by the approach he is taking.

He references an article from Richard Young from 2001 and then draws a path to “thinking systems.” He makes a good point that quality is never settled, and we need to use the past to set the future and asks the question of “can we simplify our way of pursuing quality in a digital world.”  Going back to profound knowledge he talks about organizational excellence and how we need architects that blend science, mathematics and engineering with artistic thinking to create a functional system that weathers its potential environment and is attractive to customers.

That is good. And then he went back to the 60s and I might have taken a nap. Don’t get me wrong, I love history and it’s important to understand it, but there might be a problem with understanding of quality 4.0 if we need to reference early days to make points.

Offers a definition of quality as “Quality is the relentless pursuit of goodness coupled tightly with the persistent avoidance of badness.” Break down to a product quality definition, service quality definition, process quality definition.

  • Product quality: Fit for use by the customer in the intended application and the actual environment.
  • Service quality: Consistent delivery of the desired service level over an extended period of time and across all locations.
  • Process quality: Maximizing the level of productivity relative to the customer demand with minimal waste, cost, inefficiency or loss

To get to quality 4.0 we must become trusted advisors and coaches to the executive team. Quality as lifeblood of the organization. Question we need to ask is how do I become that type of person

Organization Excellence three types of improvement:

  • Continual Improvement – Process focus, work changes
  • Breakthrough Projects – technology
  • Transformation projects – game changers in redirecting the purpose of organizational strategic intent

Hits on an issue I know many quality people grind their teeth on, especially in pharma

Managing organizational gemba the nature and structure of each Gemba changes in focus and content and must be improved in different ways

Quality characteristicGemba #1Gemba 2Gemba 3
Customer focusWorkersCustomersOwners
Work objectivesWork productivityWork priorityWork Profitability
Dominant functionPerform/operateSupervise/ManageCommand/Control
Performance focusFlow efficiencyProductivityResource efficiency
Performance approachQuality/efficiencyProductivity growthFinancial growth
Quality mindsetRight the first timeService the CustomerGet business results
Team approachWork group/circleProgram/ProjectCommittee/Council
  • Gemba 1 is continual improvement
  • Gemba 2 Breakthrough
  • Gemba 3 is transformation

Goes back to profound knowledge as delivering a systemic view of how work is carried out so that future performance may be predicted with a string degree of probability.

  • Systemic perspective
  • Managing the knowledge domain
  • Predictive analytics
  • Human understanding

System thinking and how hoshin kanri defines the strategic front-end that identifies, manages and enables critical change projects to achieve desired organization goals.

Knowledge of variation is a way that establishes change targets and sets priorities in a way that does not use unreasonable stretch targets the demotivate workers or spread fear.

Building worker competence and agility will enable people-intensive processes to run as an effective support system for the digital tools employed in deploying quality 4.0.

Profound knowledge enables insights necessary to design systems of fture and provide checks and balances to assure managerial oversight of

How to manage change

  • Operationalize profound knowledge across aly management system
  • Facilitate business improvement change
  • Balance resources

I’m really mixed by this presentation. There were some good points, but I really feel they get buried underneath the continued hearkening back to the 1980s and 1990s. Our history is important, but it shouldn’t bury us.

“Lean Transformation Lessons for Practitioners and Students” by Nicole Radziwill and Rebecca Simmons.

Rebecca is an assistant professor at James Madison University and a member of the Team and Workplace Excellence Forum and Nicole is one of the better thinkers on the impact of industrial transformation (IX) and Quality 4.0. Nicole wasn’t able to make the conference but is online. This means the presentation was a little different than expected but handled well.

Defined lean transformation as “installing the habits and practices that will enable yur organization to deliver a continuous flow of value to customers”

This cannot happen without cultural shift and stresses the importance of learning-by-doing. Old-habits to break, learning is easier than unlearning. Change requires cognitive energy and people are selective about where they spend that energy.

Click to access Markus1983_CACM266_PowerPoliticsMIS.pdf

Identify the Need

Is Lean the right approach? Some traditional questions but focused on very good question:

  • Employee turnover is high
  • Always short staffed
  • Cross functional conflict
  • Frequent pivoting

Power of observation, indicators of culture         

  • Are people first? – this is a good thing to develop a tool on what and how to observe interactions to see this?
  • Who has accountability & ownership?
  • How are mistakes handled?

Examine the system, follow the question

Assess Readiness

Once need and lean is right approach, is organization ready.

Can the organization absorb any additional change efforts? Capacity is finite and what else is going on? Is there a reasonable chance of success for this specific change? Time out – is no the right time?

Is there a reasonable chance of success for this specific effort?

Leadership engagement  – questions about time resources and actual commitement as self-discipline. Sustained hard work over time. Commitement is not enough

Process definition – enough to start but not enough that this is not value added. Who gets blamed when there is a problem?

Process stability – may need to triage first

Covered the visual triange. Information is power and sharing information with everyone in the facility means giving up control and power and this is very telling of true level of commitement.

Covers the sources of resistance and has a table based on 1993 study

Talks about importance of power balance and how shifts in power balance can create resistance.

Shared some good case studies. Love the fact they used the Baldridge as the rubric for the assessment.

Key Findings

  • Assess process maturity upfront
  • Build an organizational backbone – include standard work for leaders and “tech follows behavior” are good things emphasized here.
  • Create a sole source of truth which drives effective decision making
  • Design Strategic Quick Wins – the hardest project is not the first on to tackle. Leadership to recognize
  • Engage influencers and key executives

I then spoke.

“The Importance of PLAN in PDC/SA and DMAIC” by Grace Duffy

We need to make sure that our working level is comfortable with what they are doing. The above metric captures a balanced approach that Grace covered.

Ensured her audience was grounded on the idea of a perpetual system of improvement discussing how lean and six sigma fit together, with her concept of modular kaizen, linking back to benefits against an ideal cost of quality model. Coming back to a theory of constraints where resources and bottlenecks, finding the weak link in time.

Talks about the disruption loops as part of the PDCA loops of the modular kaizen approach. Discussed how we need to get people to think in terms of gap assessments. This is an interesting observation, and fits into a thread I’ve ben working on around situational awareness.

Building off on this Grace then covers a systems view of continuous operation.

Covering the seven step project sequence for modular kaizen improvement activities. I like her bringing QFD in here.

Overall assessment – I will go on the record again that I am a huge fan of Grace’s thoughts. She is an influential thinker in quality. I’ve also attended maybe 7 talks by Grace in the last two years and it has been interesting as she continues to refine and push ahead her system-based approach to continuous improvement.

“Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect, It Makes Habit” by Ryan Burge and Shrey Tarpara

Starting with a resistance of change, covering it at an extremely high level, hitting a little on individuals fear of changes.

The habit discussed is to build a habit of consideration around change. Briefly touched on risk management as part of analysis of change need.

Laid out a framework for dealing with resistance and fears around change.

Stuart MacDonald Keynote

Entertaining. I was really happy with this. I’m linking to his TED talk, which is a super abbreviated version of his talk.

Throughout the day I had great conversations with awesome people. My favorite part of a conference.

Tomorrow is Day 2. Looking forward to it.

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