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.



How does ‘8D’ problem-solving work?

A few people have asked me recently about ‘8D’, and I mentioned it in a previous blog without really explaining what I was on about, so I thought it was time to elaborate. 8D looks a bit like one of those smiley emoticons used in text messages, but it’s actually a structured, team-based approach to […]

When you launch a new product, what haven’t you thought about?

Quality is all about meeting requirements, even the ones that you don’t know about yet. Recently I have been working with some entrepreneurs and start-ups who have tremendous drive and enthusiasm and some great product ideas but are not very experienced in placing products on the market. They asked for help with what I call […]

A ‘helicopter view’ of Six Sigma

I have been asked about this several times in the last couple of weeks, so here is my very high-level view of Six Sigma: Six Sigma is a business management strategy, developed by Motorola in the mid 1980s, that aims to improve quality by identifying and removing the causes of errors and variability in manufacturing […]

The secrets of Total Quality Management

Total Quality Management is a buzz-phrase that, at the same time, means nothing and means everything about quality management. Unlike ISO 9001 it isn’t a standard – you can’t comply with it – and unlike Kaizen it isn’t a specific technique that you can adopt. Nor is it a tool or a process or a […]

Who, what or where is ‘Kaizen’?

A few months ago I blogged about Continuous Improvement and the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. These are excellent principles, but I am often asked how you put them in place; what do you actually do in the workplace to achieve Continuous Improvement? Well, I particularly like to use the Japanese methodology of ‘Kaizen’, which translates as simply […]

ISO 9001 myths dispelled

Mention that you implement quality systems, or ISO 9001, to most people and their eyes glaze over and they start edging nervously away from you. Everybody knows that ISO 9001 is a boring, necessary evil for some big companies but is simply bureaucracy gone mad; right? Wrong! The real reason for having a quality system […]

Corrective Actions

One of the best ways of solving systematic problems and improving the way you work is via a Corrective Action system, often known as CAPA – Corrective Actions and Preventive Actions. And, as with all the best processes, the trick is to keep it simple. To solve a problem, or improve something that isn’t as […]

Continuous Improvement – Plan, Do, Check, Act

A fundamental principle at the heart of many quality management systems is “Plan – Do – Check – Act”, first championed by Deming in the 1950’s: Plan – design or revise a business process or system or product Do – implement the plan and measure the result Check – evaluate the measurements or results Act […]

When to pay bonuses

Staff bonus payments are back in the news again today, and it seems to me that many of the companies who are attracting bad press are missing the point of bonuses. Performance-related pay is not a bad idea, although it's by no means the best instrument for incentivising staff. Nonetheless, many of the companies that […]

Over-cutting and the four month rule

In the current economic climate jobs seem to be disappearing at an alarming rate. I'm old enough to have lived through many recessions but this one seems to be particularly vicious – although the graphs that we get shown in in the media indicate that it is merely typical in terms of severity, it doesn't feel […]