1. The World Recession is Great for Quality Professionals Or Is It?

    May 12, 2009 by

    I recently attented the Annual Quality Congress Middle East in Dubai hosted by the Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University. It was clear that I was in a Dubai much different to the one I visited a year previous. The economic recession had hit Dubai hard – much of the construction work had stopped, many of the foreign workers had been forced to return home.. I visited a few companies there – one company whose Head Office had previously been bustling with people was now quiet – there were mostly empty desks and one of their first departments to experience lay-offs was their Business Excellence Dept – deemed to be expendable in hard times.

    At the conference many of the presentations addressed the recent downturn.   

    One of the most interesting presentations was by Steve Unwin of AssesstoExcellence – titled "Role of Paradox and Uncertainty in Success".  The general theme of the presentation was on "change" and "perception" – informing us that we all perceive situations differently based on our experiences, our culture and how we filter information and that  when a potential learning event occurs (e.g. a quality problem or a recession) can we really learn from it and is it useful to do so? The point here is that we never find ourselves in exactly the same situation as every moment in time is different – time is constantly changing, we are changing, our perceptions change, the business environment and associated variables are changing etc etc..     

    Whether you agree or not with Steve's views he certainly got everyone thinking – something many of us don't usually have time to do!

    To highlight Steve's thought provoking views on life I have provided a snapshot of his recent newsletter below. He begins his newsletter by sharing his experience at the conference in Dubai …

     "Much of the conference reflected the current 'exceptional' times. I was struck by one speaker's plea from the heart. 'I wish we had tools to deal with the unexpected'. In my hotel I noticed the fire buttons. My mind wandered and I imagined an Emergency button for Improvement Tools.

    In a fire we'd all be breaking the glass, yet I don't see anyone breaking my imagined glass..

    I am sure many quality professionals would argue this is precisely what we should be doing. And that we aren't because we don't understand, or "we lack management commitment", or vision or the good sense to realise the power of the tools.

    I can't help thinking that if these worked we'd be deafened by the breaking glass in times like these.

    The real explanation I think is much simpler. The tools don't work. That isn't to say that they can't work, just that they very seldom do, and even when they appear to work, it's only briefly and always by accident." 

    So do you agree with Steve? Why is it that quality professionals do not become more valuable in times like these? Is it because the tools don't work? Your thoughts please..

    Dr Robin Mann

    Co-owner, BPIR.com Limited.  

    PS. The American Society of Quality published a report on How The Economic Recession is Affecting Quality Activities in December 2008. This report presented the views of 47 individuals offering comments on ways that the economic recession is affecting them and the companies where they work. The results show companies paying more attention to cost cutting, waste reduction, efficiency, and downsizing, and somewhat less attention to growth through either new product introduction or acquisitions.


  2. The Cult of Six Sigma and PodCasts

    by

    In a recent survey it was found that from 20 improvement tools that Six Sigma was the least popular.. with 22% of respondents indicating they used Six Sigma.  Whilst this % is relatively high (more than 1 in 5 organisations) I was a little surprised that it was the least popular considering the publicity and fanfare it has received over the past five years.

    Obviously least popular does not mean that it is not effective. Popularity and effectiveness do not necessarily go together.. Also, perhaps, some industries are more likely to apply this technique than others – perhaps Service Industries do not see the relevance of Six Sigma as much as other industries where data may be more readily available or perhaps some organisations think that they are too small to get the benefits from Six Sigma. 

    Some answers to the relevance of Six Sigma to Service Industries and Small Organisations and an excellent overview of the technique has been provided by Alan Skinner of the Faculty of Business, University of Sydney. Go to the PodCast here to hear Alan's views.

    Also, if you are aware of other useful PodCasts or Videos showing the use of quality tools or best practices, please let us know at the BPIR.com.

    Thanks 

    Dr Robin Mann

    Co-owner, BPIR.com Limited. 


  3. Questions on Quality Management

    March 12, 2009 by admin

    Hello all,,,

    My name is Ahmed, the newest member in BPIR.com team and this is my first blog, I would like to share with you some questions I’m thinking about.

    What is the future of quality? What is the next big thing? What does the future hold for the profession after the recent global financial crisis?

    Ideally, quality professionals are the people that organisations rely on to search for improvements and eliminate wastes, is this what is happening currently?
    Have you noticed that quality departments have become smaller!!! while its roles and knowledge are spread throughout all the functions and departments in most organisations, in my opinion this means quality is everyone-job now, all employees should know and put in practice some quality tools and techniques not just the responsibility of business excellence or quality control department.
    That’s good thing for organisations (I mean the knowledge part not the smaller quality departments part) and overtime will result in developing quality culture but this will result in demand for more specific solutions and more tailor made programmes which is a new challenge for quality service providers for businesses (B2B) such as accreditation bodies and research agencies, how to address the very specific needs of other quality professionals in different sectors such as healthcare, education and food such challenge faced ISO9001 earlier and resulted in developing sector specific versions (ISO / TS 29001 for petrochemicals, TL9000 for Telco and ISO13485:2003 for design and manufacture of medical devices, etc..).

    Fortunately, we have very good tool that can bridge the gap between two processes in two different entities in two different sectors, which is Benchmarking.

    But Benchmarking as a process may takes significant time and resources so we need to do something to help us to accelerate the process and make life easier. Well, here comes another question, what will happen if we mixed a performance resource with web 2.0 technologies into one website?

    So, what does the future hold for us?

    This is what you will experience in the next few weeks.

    Best regards,

    Ahmed

    My BlogCatalog BlogRank


  4. Findings from a global survey on business improvement and benchmarking

    December 17, 2008 by admin

    Hello all

    Thanks to all those BPIR members/supporters that participated in the Global Benchmarking Network’s survey on “Business Improvement and Benchmarking.”

    In total over 450 people responded from over 40 countries. It was the most comprehensive survey to date on the use of business improvement tools and,  in particular, on benchmarking. Key insights were revealed into this increasingly popular technique and how organisations were applying it and using it to improve their performance.

    Key findings were:

    • Mission and Vision Statements and Customer (Client) Surveys are the most used (by 77% of organisations) of 20 improvement tools, followed by Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (72%), and Informal Benchmarking (68%). Performance Benchmarking was used by (49%) and Best Practice Benchmarking by (39%).
    • The tools that are likely to increase in popularity the most over the next three years are Performance Benchmarking, Informal Benchmarking, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, and Best Practice Benchmarking. Over 60% of organizations that are not currently using these tools indicated they are likely to use them in the next three years.
    • When Best Practice Benchmarking is done well significant benefits are obtained with 20% of projects resulting in benefits worth $250,000.
    • Respondents indicated that the external help/service that they most want (out of 8 services) is access to a best practice database!  This is obviously good news for the BPIR.com and means we are on the right track with our collection of 1,000’s of best practices.

    BPIR members can read the full report here, once logged in, and non-members can read Excerpts from a Report on the Global Use of Business Improvement Tools and Benchmarking.

    Join now to read the full report.

    II hope the report’s findings will assist you all in undertaking benchmarking more effectively.

    Best regards

    Robin

    Dr Robin Mann, Commercial Director and Part-Owner, BPIR.com Limited.