inspection and approval: why the more won’t give you better quality

October 13, 2010

if you have 1 inspector to review your products quality, he/she may review thoroughly. But there’s chance bad product will escape his/her inspection

if you have 2 inspectors, there are 2 possibilities:

A. The second inspector will review again the first inspector’s inspection quality, which means better inspection quality

B. The second inspector will think the first inspector has already reviewed it thoroughly, and only do some light inspection.

In many cases, B is more likely.
This is especially true if you add more inspectors. The more inspectors the more probability the next inspector will assume the previous one has reviewed it better.

This also the case for approval of proposal and reports.

I have seen many proposals who need at least eight (!) approvers. My estimation is only half of them actually read and review it. The other half will assume it has reviewed before and only scan for some key information, or others just simply sign it.

So, here are 2 rules:
1. More inspectors and approvers don’t help your business nor customers, always review it based on the value given by having them
2.Inspect the PROCESS, not the PRODUCTS. Inspecting products quality is too late and expensive.

appreciation of system: a view on Indonesian Railways

October 6, 2010

The first part of Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge is appreciation of a system.

I will make a case for PT. Kereta Api Indonesia/KAI (Indonesian Railways) as last week since there was another crashed involving two trains with 34 fatalities(!). And this was not the first time…

I don’t have any intention to say the problem in KAI is simple. It’s not; should it were simple, it would be solved years ago.

Yet, an appreciation of the system will help the management to improve it. Especially to blame any crash as a human error will not only ineffective, but also can be dangerous because does not touch the root cause.

The crucial part in understanding the system is to know who are the CUSTOMER(S). Then, what are their NEEDS? See below picture.

To know the customers and the voice of customers (VOC) are never easy, but it is very critical.

From PT. KAI website it was mentioned that the company have 4 main pillars: safety, timeliness, services and convenient. Yet, only timeliness have the measurement and performance tracking (only shown fore 2007-2008) in the form of “average lateness” and “average punctuality %).

In my opinion, KAI first and foremost must find out the voice of customers for SAFETY; what customers need. I believe this should be ZERO accident or zero fatality. That the vision, for example.

For each of performance parameter, KAI should have an operational definition (for example what are the parameters for SAFETY) and track the performance daily.

For instance, they could be: # accidents, # incidents, time between accident, etc.

Next step, track them daily and build a control chart to see if the system is stable or there is a special cause. Is the system capable, means it is within the customer requirement? (Will continue in the next post on Understanding Variation).

I believe all of the thinking on the system, customers need and control chart will lead the management to find a way to achieve the customers expectation.

Understanding the whole system will also help to understand the complexity if there is conflicting objectives (e.g. safety vs. cost) or any problem from the input and suppliers.

In summary, through a mindset like this, we can start a continuous improvement.