Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hank Williams & the Seven QC Tools

by Pascal Dennis

As I mentioned in the first blog in this series, when I was a young, green engineer in the 1980's & early 90's, the Seven QC Tools were everywhere.

I inhaled the works of Deming, Juran, Feigenbaum and other great senseis.

I especially liked complex tools, like scatter diagrams, histograms, and the more advanced types of control charts.

When I joined Toyota Motor Manufacturing I started measuring, calculating and drawing. I polished up complex system manuals that I'd developed at my previous employer.

Much of my early work met with quizzical expressions. "Always so complicated with you, Pascal-san..."

A revered sensei assessed my 2-inch thick system manual thus, "It's quite academic, isn't it?"

Gradually the fog between my ears lifted.


All around me, in this world class factory, was simple visual management, one-page standards, cartoons and the like.

What were the most common measurement tools?

Run charts and Pareto charts -- here, there and everywhere.

Very few control charts or ANOVA analyses.

Each zone seemed to have an iron grasp of its current condition, and hot spots.

Each hot spot triggered intense problem solving using a simple problem solving method.

Finally, it dawned on me that most problems can be solved with run and Pareto charts.

To be fair, a few of my complex analyses produced an good harvest, but that's beside the point.

Simple tools (run & Pareto charts) will get you 90% there. Learn & apply more complex tools for the remaining 10%

Here's a related story from another field.

Hank Williams, the great country singer & song-writer, was once asked, "Mr. Williams, how come you only use three chords?"

"Cause that's all there is, son," Hank replied.

Best,

Pascal

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