Welcome


Welcome to my blog for all things related to business quality (processes, systems and ways of working), products and product quality, manufacturing and operations management.

This blog is a mixture of real-world experience, ideas, comments and observations that I hope you'll find interesting.

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April 2019
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In praise of Design Reviews

I worked in one of the large Cambridge-based technology consultancies for many years and was privileged to have clients from small, inexperienced start-ups to large, established mature enterprises. Sometimes we developed products from scratch but sometimes we were brought in late in the day to sort out a client’s project that had gone wrong. One […]

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Quality is a strategic issue

I’d like to take an overview of what quality is… and why it’s strategically important to your business. What is Quality? Quality means meeting requirements. It isn’t about providing more features, or complexity, or performance that increases cost, takes longer to provide or makes it more difficult to use and may not be required. A […]

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Prevention is better than cure

Many moons ago I was blogging about Corrective Actions and said that, whilst they were invaluable, taking Preventive Actions was even better, as it should stop the problems occurring in the first place, but is considerably more difficult! I thought I should elaborate… It is obviously more difficult to say whether it will rain tomorrow […]

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Is the Hawthorne Effect really just Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle for the common man?

The Hawthorne Effect was first described by psychology researcher Henry Landsberger in the fifties when he analysed work done decades earlier at Western Electric’s Hawthorn Works near Chicago. Western Electric ran a study to see if its workers would become more productive if the light levels were raised. This did indeed happen, there was a […]

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5S is more than just spring cleaning

5S stands for Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke. And, by the way, despite being called 5S many people say there’s a 6th – Safety. Well, I’m glad to have cleared that up! Perhaps I had better explain… You have probably deduced that 5S is another Japanese-inspired approach to quality improvement; in this case it’s […]

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An Inspector Calls

The quality guru W. Edwards Deming once said “you can not inspect quality into the product; it is already there.” There is a great deal of emphasis within the quality management profession on Quality Assurance (preventive techniques) rather than Quality Control (corrective techniques). Inspection, in most cases, is seen as Quality Control; in other words […]

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Toyota – how the mighty fall

I’m not going to join the ‘let’s knock Toyota’ brigade, don’t worry. Enough people are filling that role already. In fact, I drive a Toyota (an older model) and I’ve been very happy with it, and one of my clients has got one too and is equally happy. My point is how easy it is […]

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The secrets of Lean

‘Lean’ means fat-free or thin or containing little waste, doesn’t it? (Appropriate for just after Christmas…) The answer is yes, and it’s one of the most recent trends in quality and management that started on the factory floor with Lean Manufacturing and has spread to other areas such as Lean Six Sigma and Lean Software […]

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The pros and cons of ‘Zero Defects’

Zero Defects is the approach to quality that was developed and promoted by the guru Philip B. Crosby in his book ‘Quality Is Free’. Forget Six Sigma – this is ‘Infinite Sigma’! It’s a way of thinking about quality that doesn’t tolerate errors or defects and continually strives to improve processes and prevent errors so […]

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Quality improvement – horses for courses

I have written in many blogs about different ways of securing Continuous Improvement; Six Sigma, Plan-Do-Check-Act, 8D, Kaizen, and so on. The trouble is, people become too religious about their favourite technique and apply it in far more circumstances than it’s really meant for. One of my favourite quotes is “if all you have is […]

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