Friday, April 4, 2014

A Culture of Quality

Omar Ghurab

One of the most important aspects in implementing quality to an organization is to create a quality culture. A quality culture is a culture that guides an organization through the journey of achieving quality.  This journey is not a step by step guide to fix a current situation, it is a continuous process driven by the culture of exceeding goals and expectations.  It is the change that differentiates between meeting minimum requirements and exceeding it to full satisfaction. In this article I will discuss the importance of having a quality culture in an organization.

Providing quality is rather a simple and very logical concept if you take the human portion out of the equation. For this example I will use a vending machine as an example of an organization, how would a vending machine provide a quality service to a customer? To begin defining the quality service we have determine what quality means for the work of a vending machine. Quality is usually defined as meeting or exceeding the customers’ requirements. For our example, quality service for a vending machine means that the customer is expected to get the exact product he selected in a short time. He is also expecting to get the can chilled, and containing the same good flavor he has in mind. He is not expecting a bigger can, a low calorie healthier beverage, or a can of different flavor. Now let’s imagine one of the components of the machine is damaged, will it still provide the same level of quality product? For instance, if the refrigerator part is broken, the customer will get a room temperature can which does not meet the expectations he has in mind. Or let’s say that the flavor he wants is not available, or that the machine does not have the capability to take debit transaction. All of these cases represent how the efforts of the system components lead to provide quality service or product to the customer. All of these components have to work correctly to achieve this goal. No matter how technical the component is, it still plays a role in the process of providing the service or in this case the product in a manner that satisfies the customer’s requirements.

Now let’s go back to organizations.  Organizations are systems containing different departments that work together each performing their roles to provide a quality experience to the customer. In fact, if any of the departments, sections, or even projects does not have a final goal that enhances the experience of the customer and draw more customers in, it is usually terminated because it does not provide a value to the organization.
A quality culture is a corner stone in implementing quality. It ensures all efforts provided by the organization are aiming towards providing quality to the customer.  The quality culture ensures that all components in the organization are working simultaneously to one end goal. Quality culture does not achieve its goal for implementing quality if the people working in an organization do not believe in it. It might look really good in an organization’s mission statement, but it only provides value if all of the components of the organization are fully engaged in it

Finally, in an article written by Bridgette Heard the director of quality for Illinois Cancer Care, she states that to create a quality culture, an organization must follow four essential steps:
1.                  “Determine what quality means for your organization.
2.                  Analyze your mission statement and core values.
3.                  Train your employees.
4.                  Task employees with the responsibility of showing behavior that aligns with the quality program.” (1)

Heard, Bridgette. "Creating a Culture of Quality: The Essentials." N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Apr. 2014. <>.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Cinderella’s of Baldrige

Dayton Flyers are still dancing in the Sweet 16. The Flyers took down 6 seeded Ohio State and then 3 seeded Syracuse. Tonight they take on another Cinderella story in Stanford. The national media is all a buzz with the Flyers and how they are wearing the slipper this year. Sites like CNN, ESPN, Fox and even the White House have recognized and congratulated the Flyers for their victories.  Campus is alive with energy and excitement for the game and the phrase that keeps going around is: “We aren’t done yet…”

Campus may not be able to handle another Dayton win but this is an excellent mind set and attitude when going through the Baldrige process, we aren’t done yet. Baldrige is a process that should not just end after you receive the award, but continue long after the award is displayed in the lobby for all to see. If Dayton would have quit after losing a heart breaker in the A-10 tournament, most likely we would not be talking about them today and they would not be the Cinderella story of the 2014 NCAA D-1 Basketball Championship. Much like companies should not quit after they hit a bump in the road, the Flyers keep on pushing forward and become better and better as they do so.

Much like Cinderella’s such as Dayton, I believe the smaller companies that go through the Baldrige process gain so much more than the larger companies. Dayton is in the national spotlight, smaller D1 School that most haven’t heard much about. These smaller companies that go through the process gain so much knowledge about themselves and how to better themselves as a company. Dayton’s national attention is putting the school on the map and making people realize that they are competitors and it is a great school to go to. Without the mentality of we aren’t done yet, none of this is possible.

GO FLYERS! Beat Stanford!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My experience in applying the Baldrige criteria revolves around customer focus and especially product offerings and customer support. The Malcolm Baldrige national award is an annual excellence award that is awarded to organizations excelling in the overall quality of its work. One of the important points to improve quality included in the Baldrige criteria is customer focus. In this blog, I am discussing those two points and what their relationship to quality.

Most of quality experts and founders agree on one important point in providing quality services and products which is that quality is defined by the customer. Whether it is a service or a product, the most important factor that measures quality is adherence to customers’ requirements, exceeding their expectations, and achieving customers’ satisfaction. For example, companies do not produce products that the market does not need, and also should not produce products with specifications that the market does not require.  I think about quality as a measure of how successful the company is in providing products or services that will attract customers and satisfy their needs. In simple words no customer is willing to pay or use any product or service that does not satisfy their needs. This means that the organization is providing a service or a product that does not have a customer which will result in massive loss of resources and effort.

In order to provide quality services and products, organizations should seek specifications and requirements from customers. There many ways to collect that information which saves the organizations a lot of loss resulting from rejected products, effect on reputation, customer disengagement and other ways where overlooking quality of products or services affects the organization. Customer feedback, surveys, and competitor’s services analysis and comparisons, focus groups and other methods should be used to identify customers’ requirements. This will insure that the products and services provided by the organization satisfies the customers’ requirements and therefore, achieves quality.

The second point is to provide assistance and support to the customers though customer support which will also serve as a feedback tool on the organization products and services. This step should be managed by a section of the organization specialized solely on customer support.  The means of communication to that department should vary to help the customer communicate easily. The support should be accessible using emails, calls, and/or any other preferred customer means of communications. Furthermore, providing a quality customer support means that the organization cares about the customer, the quality of the products and services provided, and keeping that customer loyal to their services by building a trust relationship.

One of the most efficient and cost effective ways to run an organization is to give customers what they want, with specifications the customer requires, and also provide sufficient customer support for that service or product. The initiation stage of the product begins with understanding and fulfilling customer requirements using tools mentioned earlier. The next step is to provide customer support for customers and also collect feedback from the customer regarding fulfillment of the customers’ requirements. Although this seems to be a lot of work, but it greatly decreases the number of reworks, rejects, returns, and wasted resources which are a big deal in today’s manufacturing.

Omar Ghurab

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

With surveys being such an important part of rating a customer satisfaction and sales service, why is there such a terrible success rate on returned surveys?  Nationwide on all types of sales the approximate response is around 20%.  How can you expect your employees to go out of their way for a customer if you are basing a salary or bonus off of a 20% probability of success?  Being a customer who has filled out a couple of surveys and thrown away several more, I can attest that these surveys are normally too lengthy and there is no benefit for me to fill it out.  Doesn’t a solution that would give the customer a free oil change, gift card, or gift certificate, not help everyone out that is involved with the survey process?   You cannot gage a customer’s satisfaction if you never get any input from them on how your services lived up to or let down from their expectations.  Something needs to be done to rectify the situation or companies are going to keep getting the same results.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Workforce Focus : What Management Can Do

Workforce Focus  - February 25, 2014
                A large amount of attention must be paid to the workforce within an organization. Management should be able to recognize the practices that the employees use to improve efficiency. Management should also be able to come up with creative ways to ensure that the full potential of all employees is achieved.
              Reward systems are a useful way to ensure high efficiency and productivity. However, it is important to focus on systems that are win-win for every employee. For example, having an “employee of the month” program does not actually enforce better working habits because there is only one winner in this scenario. This is a win-lose tactic and not every worker can benefit from it. A better reward system would be to have a certain quota for each employee to meet. Meeting this quota by a certain deadline should be rewarded so that all employees participate equally.

Another useful skill management should have is to create an healthy workforce environment. This healthy environment should encompass both safety and organization. While enriching the capability of capacity of employees, management should focus on ensuring a safe place of work for employees to thrive in. Management should keep the company organized so that changes in the workforce are not only minimal but also easily adapted to. When an organization is organized, employees function better and achieve goals more readily. Keeping a diverse workforce also serves to increase the skill level as well as the capability of the organization as a whole. Doing so allows the capacity for achievement to remain high.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Oil Spill

     The BP Oil Spill was a horrifying disaster that affected millions of people as well as wiping out large numbers of marine wildlife.  This was not only a systematic failure but also an organizational failure.  The team who was working on the oil rig should have completed a large number of check lists before starting to drill and should have also ensured that the rig was up to standards.  With the rush of society today, people are always trying to do things in such a fast pace and unfortunately that is when mistakes happen.

When people are working on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean, or anywhere for that matter, they should understand the possible negative outcomes of their choices.  If this team would have taken a step back and removed time and money from the picture, this accident never would have happened.  Quality should always be the number one priority, not quantity. 

This accident was also systematic because it was the system really failed.  The system should have been put through quality tests and checks before it was able to perform its duty.  And clearly that never took place which is why the oil spill occurred.  The system is the second most important aspect after the people because this is the part that can do the most destruction. 

By H.A.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

System Failure

                In my experience with the Senior Design Project through the university, there were many organizational problems present. In the company, documentation systems, route layouts, and responsibility allocation was not consistent throughout the entire system. Parts were not delivered to the correct place at the right time or at all and certain aspects of the system were breaking down. It was clear that the previous processes were outdated and no longer helping the situation they were intended to. These obsolete processes for documenting parts and deliveries were hampering the employees from doing a good job. It was clear that the people were not purposefully breaking down the system but the lack of communication between “upstairs” and the floor workers was impeding success and ultimately profit. Because no one was communicating well, things were not coordinated and parts were missing and some orders needed to be rushed to be completed, leaving great room for error.
             The mistakes that my team observed boiled down to issues that spiraled from these poor communication practices and outdated processes. It was not easy to pinpoint single issues with a clear-cut answer because there were so many side effects taking place that it was more comparable to putting out a series of small fires rather than an entire burning building. Through analyzing the waste and monetary loss from the inadequate processes and organization, my team was able to make a list of solutions for the company to start working through. The company found that they were able to save lots of money but fixing documentation system and the paths of coordination for the routes and employees.
              Organization is vital in any company that wants to succeed and make money. By making sure that the entire employee network is coordinated and looking at consistent documentation has proved to save the company from my senior project money that would otherwise be spent on labor, reworking, travel time and other forms of waste. 

Qwikster and VOC

Strategic factors: Customer

Paying attention to the voice of the customer is essential to manage a successful business. Many companies have literally failed and shut down because of providing products that are not customized for the customers’ needs. A customer oriented business not only achieves better, but will also save better and run more efficiently.
As an example of a failure to accommodate customers’ needs, Netflix, a popular provider of on-demand Internet streaming media and DVD-by-mail, decided to isolate their services in 2011 to be run under two different departments. The new department was called Qwikster and was in charge of their DVD-by-mail service. Since the services were divided into essentially two branches of the company, they decided to make prices of the services higher which outraged their customers and caused Qwikster project to be terminated even before launching. It might not have ruined the company entirely, but the amount of work and resources paid in advance to start launch this new project definitely have affected the company. The quick response to the customers’ voice avoided the company a great amount of loss in case Qwikster actually launched and failed to meet expectations.


People’s involvement helps the system fail in shipping and receiving

A company has had several issues with shipping and receiving of their product lately. Several of those problems include delayed processing of orders, missed delivery dates and wrong products shipped to customers. All of these issues have been created by the people in the organization failing at some aspect of their job. How did these situations occur? In some cases the system failed these people, such as the case of the incorrect product being shipped to the customer. The system had no double check to make sure the product that was picked from the warehouse to be placed in the box was correct. Other cases a lack of personnel has caused delays in the processing of orders. If one person at this company is out for the day, nothing happens in the shipping and receiving department. This organizational problem could be remedied with adding additional staff to the office at the company. The delay of the order processing then impacts the delivery date for the customers as the company only ships outgoing product two days a week. The company could use more staff and redundant systems to eliminate all of their current shipping and receiving problems.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

People Problems

The factor that most commonly comes into play is the people factor within my organization.  Everyone of my coworkers comes to work to do a good job, provide our customers a good service, make some money, and then go home to their families.  The main people problem is packages not being scanned delivered when they are delivered to the customer.  All packages are tracked from the second they are received until they are delivered to the customers door step. There are several scans that take place between initial arrival and final delivery.

                This problem of missed scans rarely happens, but when it does you would think the world is coming to an end.  We as mail carriers can’t possibly be trained on how to scan a package since we already do it roughly 80-100 times a day.  There is no incentive on making sure that we scan every package other than getting yelled at by our supervisor or postmaster if we do happen to miss a scan.  Everyone understands that when you do something several hundred times a week and 52 weeks in a year, you are going to make mistakes.  At some point maybe the Postal Service will add a motivator such as a bonus if you scan all packages correctly, or maybe a shock collar if we miss a scan as a form of negative reinforcement.  I will keep you posted if the Industrial Engineers come up with any bullet proof ideas.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lack of Communication = Past Due

People Factors – “Communication”

        I currently am a Safety/Industrial Engineering at a company in the Dayton area. I was put in charge of various task throughout the company that deal with safety and some of these responsibilities include permits received from the government, in particular, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
        The particular permit where we ran into a problem with was our paint booth permit. In order to maintain legal operation of our booth we had to stay under certain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) emissions on a day to day, month to month, and yearly basis. This permit was obtained by another employee at the company that was in charge of many others tasks during our addition of a new warehouse facility. After obtaining the permit, it required us to submit a yearly review of our VOC emissions that had to be sent in to the EPA. This detail was overlooked since the employee moved to a different department in charge of new responsibilities. I did catch this mistake even though we were 6 months late in submitting the document thankfully. If the employee would have communicated better and told someone else that they had to submit this evaluation we would have not run into the issue of being late and facing potential fines from the EPA.
        It is as simple as keeping a document with a master schedule of due dates for various permits and communicating these dates and document with all affected employees. Communication solves 90% of all problems in my opinion. I am just an intern though, what do I know?

System failure from a player's prospective

In sports typically it is said that coaches use a “system” to tech there players and get the best out of there players. This is an interesting way to view coaching but through past experiences I understand how this is true. I have been fortunate to see both successful and unsuccessful systems.
As a high school wrestler I wrestled on both sides of the spectrum. When I was a freshman, sophomore, and Junior the system that was run lead my school to a city title as well as the first undefeated season in our programs history. In addition to that we had two people qualify for state in the state of Ohio, which is extremely difficult to do. Due to a variety of reasons the core of team’s head coaches were removed my senior of high school. My senior year a new head coach came and due to two major reason’s the program has gone down since then.
The first major reason was the environment and mentality that was established when the new coach came in. The coach that I originally established a mentality that made wrestlers want to wrestle and give their best for the coach. Also he established a mentality that was positive for wrestling. When the new coach came in he focused on new things and established a “softer” culture, in my opinion. The coach tried to focus on strength and less on conditioning and technique. When I talked to my friends and watched them wrestle it was completely different. In the past the team may not have the best wrestlers but they were the most in shape and could compete. Once the new coach came in the team looked flat and tired because of the “system.” The second major factor was the personnel. The people in the new coaching system as well as the talent in the “system” decreased dramatically. The wrestlers that left after my sophomore year left many gaps in the roster and caused the team to lose. In addition to that the new head coach didn't have a good ability to recruit good athletes as my first coach did. This is important because it was easy to teach technique in wrestling. Both of these things cause the team and in a sense the program to go downhill.

From my playing prospective the second “system” seemed to be a failure. This happened because the wrestlers who remained had a huge lack of talent. The people that were acquired by the new head coach were not the athletes that were established and brought in by my original head coach. In addition to that trying to change the culture to a “softer” mentality didn't help the wrestlers that remained from the previous “system” and didn't seem to help the new wrestlers coming into the system. Wrestling is one sport that requires a hard nosed mentality, great instruction, and talent.  This change in environment and personnel  seems like a big reason in my personal opinion this new "system" failed.