Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Going "Green"?...Your customers will impact your journey

Just over a year ago the snack company Frito Lay took the initiative to go green. Their first attempt was to redesign the Sun Chips bag making it 100% compostable. For several years Frito Lay has been developing and testing prototypes for the new bag. They worked and designed the bag with a laboratory in Mt. Vernon, ME. During the first test the results showed that at 130 F, the bags were able to break down in 12-16 weeks. They were aiming for these temperatures because they are typical of an industrial compost facility.
During the second test however, the goal was to design a bag where temperature from the environment was not a variable. Finding the right mixture allowed the bag to generate its own heat and reach temperatures over 130F within the first two weeks of decomposing. I believe the second test is more realistic than the first test/design that required that the bag make it to the landfill in order to decompose. They chose the second version as the standard for the new bag in effort to go green. Then, began to sell the new Eco-friendly bag to the public.
However, after all of the research that went in to design process and years of testing to find the right mixture for the Eco-friendly bag, it quickly came to a halt. After a short run on the market, the “Eco-friendly” or “Green” bags were criticized for the distraction and extreme noise the new material caused. Frito Lay reported a decrease between 15-35% in sales after the Eco-friendly bag was released. In response to the significant decrease in sales and endless consumer complaints, Frito Lay finally took action. Their solution was to discontinue the Eco-friendly bag and continue the use of the old bag moving forward. Frito Lay said they “value and listen to their customers and this is what they want”.
When conducting a MBNQA there is a great deal of emphasis around Customer Focus category. In this category labeled (3.0), the assessment will gage how a company interacts and responds to the needs of their customers. Frito Lay discontinued an Eco-friendly bag that is better for the environment both short and long term. Followed by the disengagement of becoming the first green company to redesign the standard material for snack bags. Keeping in mid that customer complaints of “high noise levels” caused by the new material play a huge role in the decision to discontinue the Eco-friendly bag, and revert back to original style. That being said, do you think Frito Lay made the right choice discontinuing the bag? Should customer complaints in any organization take priority over product redesign in effort to be “green”, if the products quality is not altered in any way?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Quality in Everyday Life

Have you ever sat on the phone with a credit card company? How about the cable company? Ever wonder how companies like this can survive and still treat people like this? How about buying an item that you've looked forward to buying for a really long time, then upon purchasing it, you're extremely disappointed? Quality is something that we look at constantly. It's something that we cannot escape. It's there when we eat, walk, study, work, and sleep. It only helps us to understand the quality processes that we use to evaluate our everyday experiences.

Quality of a College Education

As I stare down the home stretch with graduation five days away and no obstacles in my way, I have to take a second to reflect on my college career. When I start discussing college with people I come across some very interesting topics. When I tell someone that I attended The University of Dayton, they ask the usual questions about the number undergraduate students, whether it's private or public, etc. Another question that arises is whether or not there's a link between the cost of tuition, which is now creeping up on $40,000 per year, and the quality of education that you are receiving. I'm not quite sure how to answer a question like this because I've never gone to school anywhere else. My answer is usually something like, "I would like to think so. I'd hate to think that my money could be better spent somewhere else." As you can see from the graph below, it doesn't look as if the trend of expensive tuition is going anywhere.

One will always have a few classes sprinkled throughout their time that will tarnish their idea of what drives a quality education. A Chemistry class with 125 students, or maybe a programming class with six: Whatever it may be, I believe that it's up to the student to get exactly what they want out of a class. Whether or not they enjoyed their time and got what they wanted from their classes is the determining factor of a quality education. A college education is only a base for what the real world is going to throw at you. The quality of the education that one receives is completely up to the individual. In my case, I can honestly say that it was an unbelievable learning process and I am ready to enter the "real world".

By Troy Oldford

Sunday, December 12, 2010

End of Year Response to IET 321

I am a student at the University of Dayton and I am finishing up the class IET 321 Quality management. During this semester we work on a Baldrige audit for a company, which will remain unnamed. We divided the class into seven different groups and gave each group a section of the Baldrige criteria. My group was given strategic planning so we had to focus on the development and deployment of the strategic plan. This was a good opportunity to learn about the industry and become familiar with the process criteria for the Baldrige. I believe that to truly learn and understand concepts you need to get out there experience it firsthand. The class room is good to introduce people to ideas but for someone to truly understand and be able to apply what they learned they need to apply it in a real situation which is what we did in this class. After interview and working with some of the executive member of this company I was able to right a report on their strategic planning. I actually have to get up in the morning and present my findings to the company. I will be focusing on the positive observations and the opportunities for improvement that I saw and notice for this company. This is very important because it will give a leg up for my future because I will be able to talk about this experience in interviews. Like is all about moving up and bettering your which I believe this class did a very good job off. Even though there were some rough times throughout this class I learned and lot and want to thank everyone that worked with me to complete my project.


Friday, December 10, 2010


The other day I read an article about a local business having a high decrease in sales for past year. I started thinking the reasons that this might happen, I decided to ask a friend who worked on the floor of the company what he thought might be the reasoning for this. After talking to him about it I found out that they had brought someone new into management and changed some things in process. He said that the new management wanted to make the process more lean, and in doing so over estimated the capability of their floor employees. I thought I was funny how they tried to make the company better and ended up hurting them more. I was wondering what you guys thought on the situation and how often does this happen in industry?

Quality perspective

Over the last couple of years I have worked with a construction company located in Oakwood Ohio. This job requires us to work with many different customers and these customers had many different standards, this means that one person our work may be high quality and to another it could be just average. We were working on a project over the summer putting in a patio, after working over a week on the project we finished and it wasn’t till after the next morning our group got called up by the boss telling us we need to replace the patio because the specifications where not what the customer asked for. Management made sure that we knew it was our fault for the whole situation and after speaking with the boss and the customer I came to realize that the customer loved the quality of the patio but the dimensions were wrong. It is management’s job to get the specifications for the job and forward them to us. I feel like if management would have a better system in place this problem would not have happened. What do you think?
- S.A

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

7 Driving Forces that will Affect Quality in the Future

I recently came across a presentation on the ASQ website discussing the future of quality.  ASQ's Executive Director and Chief Strategic Officer, Paul Borawski, breaks down ASQ's 2008 Future of Quality Study, and the seven key forces that will affect quality in years to come.  I enjoyed watching this presentation and agreed with Borawski's seven key forces that are affecting quality in the United States.  I think it is very important for people, especially members of ASQ, to recognize and plan for the future.  With the advice from Paul Borawski, we can plan and better prepare for changes to come in the quality field.

First and foremost, the most prevalent concept driving quality is the idea of globalization.  In order to survive in today's economy companies must integrate their communication, business, and resources.  The regional and national boundaries are becoming nonexistent.  Globalization is becoming standard in doing business. 

The second key force Borawski mentions is social responsibility.  With the 'green' movement that is occurring in today's society, it is important that companies do their part as well.  People are paying more attention to carbon footprints, environmental issues and how socially responsible companies are acting.  With so much attention on social responsibility, companies that ignore and neglect the environment will pay the price. 

The third key force discusses the new dimensions for quality.  This section deals with adaptability.  People must be willing to change with the times, continue education through training, webinars, conferences, master degrees and so on.  It's important to keep yourself on the cutting edge and in the loop of new technology.  You cannot be a sitting duck in order to succeed.

Next is the aging population.  In business, it is important to understand your market needs and your customer base.  In today's society, it is important to recognize that the baby boomers generation is growing older and have different needs.  This aging population is going to affect health care and social systems. With the aging population, we must address and adapt to new customer needs

The fifth driving force is health care.  With the amount money invested and the ever present need for healthcare, it is important to address the quality of this field.  Since this field is one that will be around for many years to come, it is worth spending the time, research and commitment to eliminating waste and old technology in this field.  This force overlaps with the idea of globalization in the sense that healthcare systems can learn and integrate recourses with various health care systems.

The sixth driving force is environmental concern.  This to me ties directly to social responsibility.  It seems redundant to break these into two separate driving forces. 

The seventh and final driving force is 21st Century Technology. This seems very similar to that mentioned in the new dimensions for quality section.  Both cover the idea of keeping up with times and that quality is a living, breathing field. 

Overall, I thought this was a very useful and important lecture to listen to.  I appreciate the lecture and the advice given through the presentation of Paul Borawski.   

Written by: Michelle Whelan

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Orgnaization in the Industrial Environment

Over the summer I worked at a plastic company. The company both fabricates and distributes plastic. One of the first things I noticed when I first began working was how unorganized the workshop was. There seemed to be no specific method for keeping track of things. It took a significant amount of time to get raw material from the inventory because it was so unorganized.Most of us know that time is money, and in this case this company was losing money. The company believes that the most important thing they have to offer is delivering a quality product on time. I find it hard to believe that this company always lives up to that standard. In order to put out the right amount of parts, raw material needs to be cut on whatever machine is necessary to get the job done. If there is a lot of machine down time there is a lot of money being lost. In this case there is a significant amount of time lost while the operator is looking for raw material. I decided I would make an effort to improve this wasted time by creating a labeling system on the shelves that hold the raw material. I set up the shelves so that all of the raw material was grouped together based on both the type of plastic and the dimensions of it. Doing this simple little job made it much easier for the operator to find their material.

There was another issue that I also helped solve while working for the same company. In order to get material to customers, it is either shipped or picked up by the customer. Every time the customer picked up material, they charged the company $100. Even if it was 20 minute round trip it cost $100. Customers come and go multiple times a day. This means that the company was spending hundreds of dollars a day in order to make sure the customers received their parts. To solve this problem we decided it would be a good idea to invest in a box truck that could be used to transport the raw material to customers. After a little bit of looking around we found a used truck for a good price. Although the company had to spend a lot of money on the truck, it only took a few months to make that money back. This was a win-win situation because now the company was not being charged for getting the material out, and instead charging the customers a delivery fee. The only thing we had to spend money on was gas and maintenance. Although it seemed like a gamble at first it turned out to be a great idea. The comapny went from spending money to turning a profit by getting rid of the delivery fee. When I was not working in the fabrication department, I was driving that box truck to and from customers. Charging the customers $100 dollars for a 15 minute drive seems rediculous, but the customers don't ask questions they just pay!!

The supply chain is like the life line of any big comapny. The supply chain includes everything from truck driving delivery fees, to the actual product being sold. There are many different elements in a supply chain and in this case one of them was costing the company a lot of money. The delivery fee was costing the company hundreds of dollars a week. The whole point is that the supply chain was improved by figuring out how to get customers their goods and supplies while getting rid of a delivery fee. Efficiency was improved by getting rid of extra steps in the supply chain.
Chris Powers

Quality Everywhere

I am currently taking IET 321 Quality Management at the University of Dayton. Most of the class has involved the learning about Quality Management principles and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. We have been participating in a semester long project with another company to help them meet the MBNQA criteria.

Two summers ago I worked at a company in the receiving department. The particular branch of the company I worked at had very poor performance. The poor performance was known by most employers, yet nothing was really done to improve the performance. This semester has helped me realize that the principles of quality management and the criteria of the MBNQA could of helped boost the company’s performance almost immediately and a great deal.

The company had a laundry list of problems, but a lot of them are addressed through MBNQA criteria and quality principles. Some of these include: leadership, strategic planning, action plan, communication with the workforce, metrics, etc..... Something that could have helped the branch a great deal is an employee award system. Employees were never motivated and they really did not care about the success of the company. An award system would have dramatically changed this and help motivate the employees. Performance measures, strategic plan, and action plan would also be needed so that employees and leaders could see where they need to be, how to get there, and whether or not they were where they need to be.

These are just two examples of many that could have helped the branch turn around their poor performance. The point of this story is that the principles of quality management can be used everywhere to help anyone or any company. A company doesn’t have to get the MBNQA to become successful, but if they use the criteria and principles they will surely become a better company.

Matt R

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Company Growth Through Customer Focus

What is growth? Growth can be defined as the process of increasing in physical size. For years companies have focused on growth through sales, new-product launch, and advertising their product features against competitors. Companies have even gone as far as a reduction in headcount or eliminating incentive and/or benefit programs to ensure growth. With fierce competition and the drive to make products/services better and less expensive companies continue to drive down cost to keep customers buying from them vs. the competition. However, companies can only cut the product/service margins to a certain point.
With the growing number of large corporate retail chains and numerous online sources to buy the same product from at the same price, how do you keep customers coming back to buy from you? This idea can be applied to retail, service centers, healthcare, and the food industry.
The company I work for is aware of this challenge and has decided to switch gears and move their entire focus around the customer. They realize that prices can only drop so low therefore; they must find other ways to keep the competitive edge. The vision is to not only make the customer 100% satisfied with our products but more importantly, the service we offer. With the idea in mind that the more satisfied customers are with your service (including price of your products), the more likely they are to continue to do business with you.
The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Criteria puts a strong emphasis around customer focus. It brings light to something that for years many companies have ignored…the customer. Without customers a company cannot exist. Should companies put more of a focus around customers? Also, are customers willing to pay more for products or services from a company with a greater focus around customer satisfaction?

-K Janowiecki

Monday, November 22, 2010

Focus on Worst Practices!?!?

Throughout this semester we have been focusing extensively on the Malcolm Baldrige Quality award which awards companies that have best practices and maintain the highest quality.

There was an interesting article posted last week on from the Harvard Business Review titled “Why You Should Focus on ‘Worst Practices’” which really caught my attention. The overall view of the article was stated “If you want to be disruptive, don’t start with best practices. Try, instead, find your industry’s worst practices and take tiny steps – or better yet, giant leaps – towards bettering them.”

The article itself raises an interesting question of whether or not we should focus on the worst practices, instead of the best practices. Most companies tend to make statements or highlight their best practices to show how successful or forward thinking that the organization is. Umair believes that to become more successful a company must identify worst practices and then bettering them to form the basis of a disruptive competitive position.

Umair gives four great tips in identifying worst practices:

To find the worst practices in an organization the person must first, ask critics, whether they be competitors, upper management, or in a manufacturing environment, the operators that work on the floor and struggle with daily tasks due to the worst practices currently in place. He states “Your critics are worth about five hundred times their weight in management consultants, consultants, pundits, and assorted beancounters”, and I couldn’t agree more! From my experience when attacking an area in industry the people that work with the products and struggle with the way a line was set up or engineered are always the hardest critics, but they usually have very ingenious ideas to solve the problems.

The second way to find and identify worst practices is to spend a day in the trenches. Look at the process or problems that someone is experiencing, and experience it yourself. In theory a process might look great on paper, but to actually perform that process might be quite different when it comes to applying it to daily duties.

Third, is examine the past. Some processes at one time were best practices and became worst practices...what happened? Look at old files, talk to people who started the processes, look at what has changed to the process. For a best practice to become a worst practice, something must have changed for it to happen. Find the root cause to fully understand the problem and fix it. After it has been fixed, control it so it does not happen again. There is no reason to continue to reinvent the wheel...

Finally, he has a section titled “Diet on your own dog food”. This was by far the most interesting of the article due to the economic crisis that the world economy has experienced over the past few years. He states if “you make it, you use it – exclusively”. If everyone who made the products that they produced were forced to use them, would some of them be designed, processed, and manufactured differently?

Overall it’s a great article, and it does pose the question, focus on worst practices?

Your thoughts…

Friday, November 19, 2010

Quality Trash: Viewing Quality as more than a Final Good

During this past summer, I was working full time as an intern for a local Dayton company.  I was working long hours which required me to pack breakfast and lunch to my place of employment.  I would start my day off with yogurt and some granola.  One day during breakfast, I finished a package of BareNaked Granola and was about the throw the packaging away.  My place of employment was very supportive of recycling and had both a recycle and trash bin located in the break room.  I was about to throw the granola packaging away but first wanted to see if the bag was recyclable.  To my surprise, not only was the bag recyclable but it was part of a recycle program called Terracycle.

I saved the bag and decided that this was something worth looking into.  I wouldn't call myself an environmentalist but I do appreciate recycling and pay attention to my carbon footprint.  If debating between comparable items, I may make my final decision on the packaging material (compostable) or the reputation the company has.  I try to reduce the amount of plastic I use (water bottles) and am trying to bring my own bags to the grocery instead of collecting MORE plastic bags.  Needless to say, I researched more about this Terracycle program.  I found out that this BareNaked Granola teamed up with a recycling program that motivates and rewards teams and communities to recycle certain products. 

Here is how the program works: First, you join/make a team.  You then collect certain products like gum containers, juice box containers, tape dispensers, plastic Zip Lock bags and so on. There is an entire list of items that Terracycle accepts. Once your team reaches about 75 items, Terracycle will send your team a pre-paid shipping envelope in which you can send all the collected items to Terracycle.  Terracycle will then create and develop new products made from the used bags and wrappers.  As a group, you are not only rewarded for reducing the amount of waste in landfills but for each item you collect.  Based on the amount of products that you send in, your group will also be able to make a donation to a non-profit or school of its choice.  It's a win-win situation!  There's MORE: You can purchase items made from the used bags and wrappers you collected!  Items for sale include: jewelry, bags/totes, clipboards, picture frames, fertilizers and much more.

Terracycle was founded in 2001 by a 19 year old freshman and Princeton University.  The goal of this newly founded company is to eliminate the idea of waste by finding innovative and unique uses for disregarded items, aka - trash.   Since 2001, Terracycle has been very successful in accomplishing its goal.  Over 12.5 million people have joined the brigade which means that these people are making simple life decisions to eliminate the idea of waste.  Over 1.8 billion items have been collected through Terracycle and close to 1.5 million dollars have been donated to charities worldwide.  This company is a great example of how small, sustainable life decisions can result in a better place.  With the dedication and teamwork demonstrated through Terracycle, not only has the amount of trash been reduced but money has been donated to local charities. 

Terracycle is a very small step, but one in the right direction.  It is because of programs like Terracycle and devout members that participate in them that we can truly reduce the amount of waste we as Americans produce.  Programs such as this bring about awareness and gain interest in recycling.  I think this would be a terrific program to implement in schools and perhaps even at work.  Small containers could be placed next to vending machines to collect the wrappers from Starbursts, Skittles and so on.  I think this program would bring unity, empowerment and high spirits to a facility such as the one I worked at this summer.  Such a simple idea can have great rewards.  It's amazing how one idea can turn into such a reality and have such great results. 

So what does this have to do with quality? EVERYTHING! Terracycle is a great demonstration on how quality engages every facet of a product/company/service.  Brand, integrity, price, durability, material, ethics, history, packaging and so much more make up the definition of quality.  Customers have an endless selection when purchasing an item: that is, there are many options to choose from which makes quality even more important to make a product/company/service stand out.  Terracycle chose an ethically sound and responsible business plan, have a good cause and good reputation supporting their name.  Since my discovery of Terracycle, I have been more inclined to purchase products that can be recycled through Terracycle.  I find that my view of quality has grown to encompass the idea of stewardship and recycling.  

In conclusion, businesses should acknowledge and understand that not only are consumers looking at quality in the traditional sense of a final product, but also see quality in the sense of how the product was made and how it will be disposed of.  It is important for a company to deliver a well designed/durable/budget friendly product, all while keeping in mind the 'green' movement. 



Written By: Michelle Whelan

Thursday, November 18, 2010

December Is For Cynics: IET Post Graduation, Pre Employment

To piggyback on the post “Why Do We Need To Know This Stuff” I too have been thinking about my future and my IET minor. I can think of many ways to apply Six Sigma, quality management, and other things I have learned to many engineering jobs, including those in my main major of Mechanical Engineering Tech. But when I graduate in December I wonder still "what am I going to use all this for?" Will I be applying Six Sigma projects on my mom’s cooking? Making sure snow shoveling is up to ISO standards? Examining Baldridge criteria on our Housing Community?
But thankfully for a month and a half,  I’ve found escape through my fraternity. I will be in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico working as an intern for the American Leadership Academy. While my family, brothers, and friends will be thigh deep in snow, I’ll be on the beach enjoying highs in the upper 70s, lower 80s.
But it won't be a vacation. I will be interning and helping with every little task to make sure the program runs effectively. One of the requirements is to issue surveys about speakers and the program at large. Can I use my IET skills to effectively wrangle the data into useable chunks? I sure can. I can use my Six Sigma training to find cause/effect situations, my training in various quality classes to do regression analysis and various charts. I can find out what speakers actually did well and which ones were just mediocre by removing outliers, people who always vote low, and other variables.
While IET might only seem to be applicable to manufacturing, plants, or service industries, I can applying it to a unique internship opportunity.

-J. Matt

Friday, November 5, 2010

Quality: Is it becoming assumed?

 Quality is something that is a given in almost all products and services. Quality is what makes or breaks a company. If you are not going to provide your customer with a quality product or service will you even have a customer at all?

I feel that in the eyes of the customer, quality is an assumed and rarely considered aspect of the product or service being purchased. When a consumer goes to purchase an item it is usually not noticed that a company is ISO certified or that there were Six Sigma Black Belts working on the project to create such item. For the most most part customers care if its faster, cheaper, better and in most cases the color they prefer when purchasing an item. I also feel that this assumed quality is not only implied by the customer but also by the managers and supervisors on a facility floor.

This may be a mistake. Quality is an aspect of design that requires a great deal of work and effort to implement it correctly and without fail. Due to this producing a quality product is not normally a cheap or easy process to implement. It can require a great deal of time and money and even the training and educating of employees. Yet it is a very important aspect of producing anything whether it be a simplistic product like a flashlight or a complex product like a car.

There is assumed quality in everything you see around you and this needs to be realized and noted that although costly and time consuming, quality is something you cannot get around and something that you cannot take short cuts to produce.

By: SW

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Winners and Losers

Upon reading an article titled "Baldrige Benefits", I realized something very remarkable about the Baldrige process as a whole. As stated in the article "its not about winning or losing but how you played the game", to me this quote spoke volumes.  I found this quote to be very eye opening to the fact that not all companies that are examined by a Baldrige team of examiners are "winners" yet all gain the knowledge that the examiners find and conclude.

Based on this reason I would find it safe to say that all companies that enter into the Baldrige program are "winners" from the beginning just for being open, honest to expose them selves to the world or as Sandy Feola likes to say,  "open up their kimono". As an individual I would be nervous to have an examiner poke and prod as they searched through all my deep dark secrets and judged me bases of how well I do me. I feel that this is the same for companies that apply for this examination. Sure you have the opportunity to gain all sorts of insights and knowledge into your own company that can result in the positive changes and advancements that will keep you as a company in business, but at the same time is it overall worth it? I feel that in the case of a Baldrige examination it is. 

Therefore in the terms of stating your "winners and losers" for the Baldrige examination there are no such titles. It is not so much about being the best as it is about continuous improvement and recognizing that you can get help in evaluating and making your company better. Sure there is a fee involved and an "open Kimono" policy, but if you are willing to put up the the slight draft and the payment your job is a little easier. After everything is said and done all you have to focus on is the improvement and working towards the ultimate goal of being the best out of the best, being a Baldrige WINNER!

By: SW


If there is something I have learned while I have been in school over the past four years at the University of Dayton, it is that you can never experience too much and you can always learn from an experience be it a good experience or a bad experience. This is something my mom always told me but I typically never listened and dragged my feet when there was something I did not want to do.

My goal this year was to jump into any opportunity that I could to learn. Therefore I took the opportunity Sandy had given our class to attend the ASQ Dayton Chapter meeting. I would be lying if I said I was entertained the whole time, understood everything, and it was the best experience I have ever had. However, I did enjoy the overall experience. It gave me an idea of how I can still be involved with a group once I graduate. Also, the group of individuals that I was able to meet and connect with gave me great insight into what they do, how they got there, and where they are going with their career. I am always asking questions about people around me and their career/life journey.

Not only did it give me personal experience but it gave me a connection point for class. I was able to see how my quality and lean management class are used in the workforce outside of the examples given by my professors and textbook. The presentation given was about six sigma and how it can benefit people if it is used correctly. In class we talk about how it is so beneficial but I never thought about how it may be learned by individuals in a company and look great a ones personal title, but they may in fact not be executing it once they have earned their belt.

For me I tend to find most experiences a breath of fresh air. A way to see things in a new light. It gives me the opportunity to find what I think I want to do, what I know I never want to do, and what I never considered doing.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010


When we got married, my husband and I received a Black Forest German CooCoo clock.  As a pendulum and weight clock, I have had to wind it and reset the time once every eight days.  For years now, the clock has lost 5 minutes per week.  For years, I have been annoyed that the clock hasn't kept time better than that!  Five minutes a week! 

A few weeks ago, I read a Smithsonian article on pendulum and weight clocks.  The article discussed their construction in detail.  Different types of construction results in different levels of accuracy.  Due to the nature of the mechanisms, the very best pendulum and weight clocks lose only five minutes every eight days. 

Well, that was a show stopper.  For over 20 years, I've been annoyed with the clock for losing five minutes every eight days.  Then, I learn.  I learn that it is actually a very fine clock.  My perceptions have changed.  I am now very happy with the clock.

When we use the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Criteria, we are trying to learn. If we truly learn, our perceptions will change.  What have you learned so far?  How have your perceptions changed?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why Do We Need To Know This Stuff

Most people have goals, reasons why they are doing a particular set of activities.  Understanding why we do the things that we do is critical for staying motivated.  When learning anything new, whether on-the-job or in a formal education setting, learners often ask why.  In business, saavy individuals also often ask why.  Consider the business owner that wants to know why his/her company isn't performing at its best.  Or how about company leaders who are wondering why their competitors were chosen to provide a particular product or service.  What about asking why some places are better places to work at than others.  And here's a question that might be more applicable to you as you begin your career: why should I chose to work at one company over another?

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award asks a lot of whys.  The MBNQA is more than a list of criteria, it is a training ground for asking why.  Smart business people use the MBNQA to help them determine why an organization is performing at a particular level.  Over the last 30 years, the MBNQA criteria has evolved into seven categories that describe what an organization absolutely must do well in order to be a world class organization.  Isn't that the sort of organization that you would like to be a part of?  One that will be able to withstand the multitude of changes and challenges presented by a global economy.  How will you identify such an organization during your interviewing and job hunting process?  How will you convince them that you are able to fit into a world class organization?

IET 321, with its focus on the MBNQA is interested in training you to recognize performance excellence in seven categories that are vital to an organization's success.  If you look closely (and check out those end of chapter 'Are You a Quality Person?' exercises), you will see that these seven categories are vital to your career success also.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Facebook at a national level

Many of us use Facebook to catch up with old friends, connect with lost friends, and share recent updates on our lives. This was what Facebook was initially used for. It was a way college students could connect with their friends that went away to other schools and even that evolved into bringing in the high school and grade school aged students and eventually our own parents! This social network phenomenon has become much more than a way to let ones social network know what is going on in ones life. Facebook has become a way for people to advertise their companies, create awareness of organizations, fundraising events, a way to stay up to date on current events from news postings and anything else someone can think of.

This is where an article I found on CNN.com comes in. The San Diego State University natural disaster experts used participants from 15 countries to research how people and social media would work in communicating crisis by sending out a test message about an earthquake. The ultimate goal was to see what kind of response and how fast the response would be using social media such as Facebook and even Twitter.

I thought this was appropriate seeing that we are using social media throughout the duration of this class. It is interesting to think that something that started out as a social network for college students has turned into a way for teachers and participants to track progress on a group project and has now started to evolve in a way to help to get quick response in the case of a natural disaster or other national crisis.

-Meredith Daniels-

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Eight weeks into the semester: Our class journey starts

Start with a good book, explore operational excellence concepts and also have an opportunity to “try it out”? What better way to learn about quality management concepts than to take a “Baldrige Journey” with an organization right in our own Dayton metro back yard.
Student teams have formed, each responsible for one of the seven Criteria for Performance Excellence. They are preparing to go on a journey with their next teachers – business practitioners. Our real world project parallels what we are learning about organizational leadership, strategic planning, customer focus, measurement, workforce focus, process management, and results.
Read the text chapter. Understand the Baldrige category scope and the sub-section process questions. Develop questions to ask the organizations’ practitioners. Understand how the organization applies concepts described in the category. Are there any gaps, any recommendations? Sound straight forward? Not really!
Our class journey to learn about operational excellence starts eight weeks into the semester. Time to roll up our sleeves and get started!
By Sandy Feola

Monday, September 27, 2010

Communication skills

Most of us have heard the phrase: All good things come to he who waits.  Actually, the real quote, from Abraham Lincoln said:” Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”  What are you waiting for?  A grade?  A job? An incredible career?  A great impression on someone?  According to Abraham Lincoln, you need to be out there hustling to make it happen.
 Today’s job market is tight, but companies are hiring.  Last week, my husband attended a conference.  Business owners across the nation attend this conference every year to improve their relationships with other in their field.  Since their companies provide technical products, they hire people from engineering, engineering technology, and business.  I asked Karl to ask everyone he met the following question: What is the most important reason they hire a particular individual?  Their overwhelming answer: communication skills.  They gave many examples of poor communication in emails, letters, phone calls, reports, summaries, and text messages.  Listening to their answers, the real issue revolves around how well an individual interacts with another individual. 
Three particular examples really stood out.  One CEO was appalled when he received an email from a recently hired college graduate.  He had asked the person to work on his spelling and grammar in a customer presentation that the person created.   The errors were significant and in many cases embarrassing.  The response from the new hire: “I don’t have time for your #$%&*# insistence on grammar and spelling.” 
In another case, a customer shared a ‘contact’ call with a VP.  One of the VP’s new salesmen left a message stating in a lackluster voice: ‘I am from X corporation. My boss said I should call you to see if there is anything you need.  Call me and let me know.’  The salesman did not leave his name or contact information. 
In the third situation, the person had been asked to investigate a particular product on the Web and provide a summary of the information they found.  The response: ‘Look it up yourself, why should I take the time to surf the web, I shouldn’t have to learn that way.’ 
Does it surprise you that none of these individuals are currently employed with their former company? 
You have probably noticed in your courses the wide variety of assignments you receive, each asking you to use a different form of communication.  Hopefully you realize that we are trying to prepare you for your eventual career.  As you prepare your homework, ask yourself: How well do you interact?  Do you speak clearly on the phone?  Do you always clearly leave a contact number?  Do you clearly state the purpose of your call, text, report, summary, letter, or email?  Do you proofread to ensure what you said made sense?  Do you proofread to ensure that you actually communicated your message?  Are you able to read, absorb, and then summarize information that your colleague or boss has asked to you find?  Do you believe the work that you are doing or have been asked to do is important?  Follow Abe Lincoln’s advice and hustle!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A fish story: "The customer that got away"

Bubba and Snooky will NOT be living in a goldfish tank from Jack's Aquarium & Pets store, located on Wilmington Pike in Dayton. I'm sure one of their clerks had the best intention, but really missed the boat when it came to satisfying this customer.
Here's the fish story. My daughter's high school biology class experiment, temperature affect on organism behavior (very harmless) this past week, ended with the teacher asking students if they wanted to bring home a goldfish before they would be "released" to meet another fate. With a written note of consent (required by the teacher), plus one of those cheap plastic goldfish containers lying around the house for the past 15 years, my daughter brought home two new family members.
So Saturday morning, I went on a quest to buy a tank so that Bubba and Snooky could have a permanent, comfortable home at least for the next 5 years. My thought was a 2 gallon tank, nothing fancy, but knew they should have some type of aeration. We already have a 15+ year old goldfish, so I consider myself fairly well informed about managing goldfish survival.
I started my errand at the Complete PETMART, close to my home. Open at 9:00 am, the clerk was nice and very helpful, but the store did not carry much of a product line for customers who have fish for pets. I asked the clerk where he would recommend I get a tank and support items, and he suggested Jack's Aquarium. The store is a little farther out, but Bubba and Snooky weren't looking the best for wear after swimming in the temporary vessel for more than 24 hours.
First problem – when I arrived, Jack's wasn't open, and wouldn't for another 45 minutes, until 10:00 am.  Maybe they don't think customers get up for Saturday morning errands. Instead of returning home, I killed time grocery shopping at a close-by store. Jack's was the recommended place to go for fish supplies, so I arrived back at the store just after their opening time.
"To attract and retain customers, effective organizations need to focus on determining and then providing what their customers want and value." (page 92)  I wasn't the only customer on the outside looking in before their posted opening time on Saturday.  My first reaction was that Jack's wasn't worried about being better than their competitor by making this store location available at the same time as their competitor. "Companies that want to retain their customers must continually strive to find ways to delight their customers." (page 94)  Jack's missed the boat. I would have been delighted to have been able to go into the store after 9:00 am just like the Complete PETMART store where I was delighted that there was one clerk on hand to help, even though they didn't carry products that would help out Bubba and Snooky.
Let's continue the fish story. . .
Since I had not previously shopped at Jack's Aquarium, I asked if a sales clerk could help me after looking around the store for a few minutes. I explained the situation; that I was looking for a 1 to 2 gallon tank, big enough I thought for 2 goldfish that are less than ½ inch long, at this point. I also needed an aeration unit. Knowing that these fish could live for a very long time, I told them my daughter would "super-size" the tank in about five years, but for now, I needed nothing large or fancy.
Unfortunately, the store clerk wasn't "listening" and promptly told me that this wasn't acceptable. First, I needed at least a 10 gallon tank, that goldfish could live to be 100 years old, and that I had probably stunted the growth of our current fish that was swimming in a 1 gallon tank. She also informed me that if I purchased the 1.5 gallon tank I was considering, that she would have to ask me to bring the goldfish to her store, she would take them off my hands and exchange them with 2 fish that I would be capable to care for in a 1.5 gallon tank (in other words, I was not competent for goldfish care).
Needless to say, I didn't appreciate being told that I didn't know how to take care of goldfish, and in the tone that the message was delivered. Since she obviously did not want to sell a tank smaller than 10 gallons, I left.
How do customers define value? "The organization itself may be evaluated based on its credibility and reputation for responsiveness to customers, employee competence, ability to communicate, and courtesy." (page 95) Jack's Aquarium missed the boat to meet a requirement for an effective organization as described in Chapter 4 of the text we are using in class, Quality Management. They don't appear to realize that the value of my transaction will determine whether I will buy from them the next time, or that I might tell other consumers about my experience. I am sure that this retail organization has not informed their clerks that "consumers have extraordinarily high standards for customer service. Companies that want to retain customers must continually strive to find ways to delight their customers." (page 94)
Simply listening to what I was trying to do now, and then helping me determine how to move to in the future, would have delighted me. The clerk lost an opportunity to satisfy my current need, and to offer options in a respectful manner, so. . . Jack's Aquarium lost a customer for life.
Not wanting to purchase any aquarium or fish supplies from Jacks, I went home, put away the groceries (melting ice cream since I had to grocery shopped before Jack's opened), I set off to find a 1 to 2 gallon tank at the nearby "big-box store". I found not only a 1.5 tank similar to one that was at Jacks for $10 less, but also purchased other items for Bubba and Snooky to feel more comfortable in their new home. What I spent today on this single purchase at the other store might not seem like much, but had my experience at Jack's Aquarium been completely different, I would have been a regular customer for future needs for other pet items in their store (we have a dog, cat and the 15+ year gold fish). Even more, I would have been able to recommend this store to my friends, other pet owners. Not anymore.
This is one fish story where the customer got away.

By Sandy Feola

Friday, September 17, 2010

ISO and Six Sigma

Over the past summer I had a coop job with Neaton Auto which is a mold injection supplier for Honda and Toyota. My job was in the quality department which allowed me to get involved ISO/TS and Six Sigma projects. This summer experience was the first time I ever got to learn what ISO and Six sigma is. I have had classes that mentioned ISO and Six Sigma but never went into detail. Working in the auto industry was great experience because they have top of the line technology and techniques for eliminating waste and controlling the quality. This experience was eye opening a I am so happy that I go to see these actives first hand. Now that my classes are teaching us about ISO and Six Sigma I am able to relate what we are learning with my first-hand experience. This for me is very important because I am much better at learning hands on.

I believe that very business should use ISO and six sigma methods. Not every company has to be ISO certified but I believe that every company should create some sort of standards, create documentation and reduce variation in the process. Focusing on those this will give a company more control over their product and increase the quality of the servers or part. On the other hand every company should also be looking for new ways to cut out waste and therefor costs. Eliminating unnecessary waste will give a company the competitive edge because it will give the company bester quality, faster production, cheaper product and give the company more agility to switch back and forth between processes. These methods should especially be used now that we are economically in a hard time. Companies should be putting a lot of focus on eliminating waste and creating better quality to get new costumers and more business from preview costumers.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Frustrations with Online Media

Why does it always seem that there are so many different ways to access the same information and it can take hours upon hours to figure out what the reading assignment is for a certain class? Does anyone else find that all the technology and communication on the internet is actually hindering performance and the way students study and learn?

I find that I struggle for hours before actually finding the assignments and when I finally do, it was something so simplistic that its almost not worth my time in the first place. What is the point of having information in multiple areas when you are only creating waste in the time needed to search for your desired information.

 Is it even worth the time and effort posting information in multiple medias and areas throughout the world wide web? Sure everyone can see this information and decide what they are to do with this available knowledge but is it really teaching the masses or just cluttering up space across the board?

Chris P.

Earning my Green Belt

My name is Joseph Matt and I'm currently a student in IET 321, Quality Management. This is my final semester at UD and my victory, victory lap around the Ghetto.

This past summer I completed the project part of earning my Six Sigma Green Belt certification. My journey towards continuous improvement started last fall when registering for classes. Because of scheduling issues I couldn't graduate at the end of the year and would have to come back for another fall semester. After talking to my advisor I was told to enroll in the new Six Sigma Green Belt class, which would add to my resume, give me a summer internship, and complete my IET minor requirements.

Over the summer I worked with a prominent Dayton document management company on quality control of a premier product line that is offered to many state DMVs. Over the summer I traveled to two different plants around the country, ran over 50 DoE, worked with many plant operators and officials, and attached many, many decals.

This week in class we have been learning about the Six Sigma process and it's differentiation and similarities to ISOS standards. My knowledge from last semester and this summer have helped significantly with my homework and class participation.

I look forward to continuing to add onto my past experiences with Six Sigma and supplement it with additional quality management techniques.

-Joe Matt

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lean Sandwiches

Check out this excellent short article on lean: http://www.pfonline.com/columns/0910never.html
It was sent to me by a very successful former student, Mike Monnier, Field Service Supervisor at Barsplice Products.

Communication: Making the first impression

Sometimes when we look at communication methods generational issues appear.  The key to remember when communicating, whether by blogs, email, voice mail, texting, or heaven forbid, face-to-face; is that you only get one chance to make a first impression.

Make your first impression a great one!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Video Conferencing

With the economy the way it is, more and more companies are turning to technology for solutions to reduce time and money. I recently saw an advertisement for an in-office video conferencing system. The ad said “emails and phone calls are a thing of the past since video conferencing enables users to connect face to face with anyone at anytime, at a moment’s notice”.

I think video conferencing is a good thing, because businesses can save time and money by holding video conferences instead of meetings. When a company has several branches that are scattered around the country or world, it is necessary for upper management to continually meet to ensure that the branches are doing what needs to be done. By using video conferencing, companies can save money on the cost of traveling as well as the time wasted when they are traveling.

What do you thing about the use of video conferencing? Do you think it is a productive way to communicate?

By: T.S.

Businesses Using Social Media

I recently read an article that discusses businesses using Facebook accounts to advertise to their customers. The article stated that Facebook has many features that allow businesses to advertise and get their product noticed (Stay). Not only can businesses advertise on facebook, but they can also conduct voting polls that allow the business to receive user information back about their product (Stay).

I believe Facebook offers an effective way to communicate because it allows companies to directly communicate with their customers. Facebook also allows the business to interact with the customer without much effort. This is a good idea because if a company would come out with a new product they can get it exposed easily. Also, advertising on Facebook is relatively low cost and since it is digital, no trees are cut down for paper advertisement. A company is able to advertise to a wide range of people only at the click of a button.

What do you think? Should Facebook be limited to only people or should companies be allowed to use Facebook for advertisement?

By: T.S.

Stay, Jesse. "Facebook for Business: Opportunities and Limitations." Inside Facebook (2008): n.
pag. Web. 13 Sep 2010. <http://www.insidefacebook.com/2008/07/28/facebook-for-business-what-it-needs-what-it-has/>.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Effective Mission Statements

Here is an interesting thought about mission statements and visions. For most companies these statements are long and lofty. They espouse devotion to customers, quality, employees, the environment and whatever else is deemed important. Do these long statements provide guidance to their employees?

Try this mission statement on for size. It’s from a blanket and bed clothing manufacturer.

Fabrico, Purveyors of warmth and comfort since 1895.

What does it say to you?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What would the Quality Masters have said?

Our 2nd week continued discussion about effective organizations which lead into the Quality Masters; prominent individuals who stood out as key figures in quality. The methodologies, philosophies, and teachings of Shewhart, Deming, Juran, Feigenbaum, Ishikawa, Crosby and Taguchi have positively impacted 1,000's of organizations over many decades across the globe.

If you have ever watched the program "Iron Chef America", you might recognize where we headed with our class activity. Teams of 3 to 4 students first selected a Quality Master (Iron Chef) from Chapter 2, then sent a member to the front table to choose from many index cards listing effective organization success factors and characteristics (ingredients). These factors would be used to present to our expert panel at least three responses (plated dishes) representing their quality master's (QM's) philosophies.

An Iron QM competition isn't complete without a secret organization (ingredient), unveiled as British Petroleum. The teams had 10 minutes to prepare their QM's response to the problem, "What advice would you give to BP leadership, so that if followed, would have changed istory by preventing the gulf oil explosion/spill?" Students needed to maintain their quality master's perspective in the advice response.

Ten minutes is not a lot of time to prepare, but working under pressure to meet the objective is a challenge that would not have scared an Iron QM! Ultimately, team members became more familiar with their quality master through the fact gathering and presentation building process. The Iron QM team presentations were creative, unique and also met the objective to describe "What would the Quality Masters have said?"

by Sandy Feola

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Myth of Multitasking

There is a great book on the market titled The Myth of Multitasking: How "Doing It All" Gets Nothing Done by Dave Crenshaw. He raises the question with all the technology that we have today and the constant communication that we have, does it make us more efficient throughout the workday? He visits company's, interviews employees, and have them do tasks to understand whether it is better or not to multitask. He concludes that overall multitaksing is a lie and actually wastes time and money. It's a great book at only 144 pages (large text, half the size of a normal book) and a quick read. The information is very interesting and makes you wonder if we are being productive on a daily basis with all the multitasking that we do on a daily basis...


Sunday, August 29, 2010

People don’t come to work to do a bad job

During the 2010 fall semester, students will periodically post about anything “Quality Management”. We are using the text Quality Management: Creating and Sustaining an Effective Organization (2nd Edition) by Donna C.S. Summers, Ph.D. Some of the students have co-op’d, most have had a part time jobs or participated in community volunteer work this past summer or year. This is their reference point, their initial perception about organizations.

The dialog our first week of class introduced concepts of an “effective organization” – what this kind of organization looks like, the benefits from creating an effective organization, why organizations pursue excellence, for example. Think about an organization as “a compilation of a wide variety of activities. Any one or group of those activities can be world-class operationally, but if the other activities within the firm are performing at a suboptimal level, then the organization as a whole is not effective.” [pg 7]

Here’s a thought: If an organization misses a customer’s order due date, was this because the employee was trying to make a mistake, or the result of poor systems within the organization?

Our first assignment is to think about a situation where you experienced or observed a system failure and write about how that failure relates to one factor that affects organizational success. A factor could be the company’s culture, effective leadership, employee motivation, teamwork, competitive position, or technology; just 6 examples out of 23 factors grouped under Organizational, People, or Environmental categories from page 8 in the text (figure 1.3).

Student examples will be posted after the assignments are turned in the first part of the upcoming week!

By Sandy Feola