Better Days

Quality management system creation and implementation

July 21, 2019
by Day
5 Comments

Blame is Lame

            I work with multiple companies seeking to gain or keep certification to one of the ISO standards.  Some just want to piece together the guidance the standards offer in order to achieve a higher level of excellence.  Regardless, every organization wants to eliminate mistakes, especially those that keep happening,  So, how do the successful ones navigate the old “Well, if they (fill in the blank for who “they” is) would just … (again, fill in the blank with whatever.)” syndrome. 

I recommend taking lessons from those who are less successful first.  For example, I am continually baffled by organizations that label a single fault on almost every mistake or issue as:

“Human Error”  

            A review of corrective actions filed in most of those organizations shows an overwhelming choice to correct problems by “retraining employees”.  Blame on the individual may seem like an easy fix, but in organizations where that is the primary response, I honestly see very slow progress, and in two cases, I saw backward progress, to include loss of business and increases in other failures, like a higher rate of injuries.

            There is a saying that encourages us all to note:  “when you point a finger there are three fingers pointing back at you”.

          According to Prateek Agarwal, an author for Quora.com, “The origin of this saying is the observation of our physical structure.  Try pointing your index finger at anything and discover your middle, ring and little fingers pointing right back at you; three fingers pointing back at you for each finger pointed at anyone else.
          “Of course, the idea is to look within yourself for the faults before you start pointing them out in others.”

            I wonder why this habit of blame continues.  As professionals and human beings blessed with the power to think, surely we understand how blame can get in the way of success in any endeavor.  And if we continue to have to retrain people, why aren’t we looking at resolving our training process, which appears to be ineffective, rather than blaming our people?

            The ISO 9001 standard establishes another way to approach problems, and it comes from research and feedback on genuine success stories.  Get blame and emotion out of the way, and use a more “scientific” approach.

This tried and true model uses methodology, team input, unbiased observations and data collection.  I find that the organizations that use a true root cause analysis method are far more practiced at eliminating and preventing problems, not just solving one-time issues.  They are far more likely to exceed their goals, partly because they remove obstacles and partly because they gain support from people who have had a chance to participate in the process.  People who have a voice in the improvement of their work environment find even MORE ways to improve.

For tips on solving problems using methodologies, you can check out Effective Problem Solving methodologies on TapasForLife or other sources related to the ISO standards.

            So how have you conquered blame from disrupting your organization’s success, or your own success?

June 30, 2019
by Day
10 Comments

Success can be Simple

How simple can success be?  As simple as 1-2-3-4, really.  The simplicity of the ISO 9001 standard as a model for a system to manage an organization’s quality and the simplicity of implementing its requirements, in my view, is real genius.  These four steps can be applied to achieve an impressive level of excellence.  The PDCA cycle is the foundation of the standard and the foundation of the successes so many organizations have experienced who use it.

PDCA stands for Plan, Do, Check, Act.  It’s all you need to do to get to the next level.

Here’s how:

1.  Plan — Create a plan that defines where you want to be and the steps you’re going to take to get there.  This is a great habit to adopt for yourself, not just your organization.  Get input from your team mates to have a more effective plan for your work group.  What are their views?  Make sure you include their “vision” to add color to the total picture of where you want to go as a group.

Within your personal area of responsibility, how do you plan your day?  What goals, what activities that add value will take your focus, attention and talents for the day?  Where do your customers, clients, or significant others most critically need your gift

Once you have the plan established with specific details, communicate it so that all involved understand (note, I used the word “understand”, not “got sent an email”).  You’ll have taken the most critical first step.

2.  Do – Implement your plan to the best of your ability, ensuring adequate resources and feedback are part of your actions.  Support those on your team who need it.

3.  Check – Take some time to review the work and activities.  You can use special metrics if your process or activity is a bit complicated, or you can use simple tools like time task trackers, spreadsheets, or just measure your outcomes (parts manufactured / phone contacts attempted vs completed / pages written / etc.).

Setting times when you will conduct your checks can be helpful.  Establish times during the process, or during your day, to check in and see if you’re on track.  How often you do this can depend on several factors, like how often you will need to keep track of your output. Is getting things done by a certain time important so you aren’t holding up others, or do you just need a general feel for how the activity is progressing and what resources are in play?

4.  Act – After you have measured the progress of your activities, you can make adjustments and improvements that are based on data and results.  In most cases, emotion, hearsay and gut feel can pull you off-track, so pay attention to the source of your conclusions before you shift gears.

Simple, and very effective, there is a master model for helping your organization find excellence, as simply as counting 1-2-3-4.

And that’s P-D-C-A.

Give it a try and share your results in the comments.  For more on PDCA, check out the Organizational Overview on TapasForLife here:  https://tapasforlife.teachable.com/p/quality-organization-getting-started.  And thanks so much for stopping by!

June 8, 2019
by Day
7 Comments

Take Advantage of Global Lessons

            Huge successes, returning customers, achieving goals, growing and moving forward … what a great work place or small business environment to spend time in.  So many people have so much advice on how to do it.  What if multiple organizations who achieved those ideals got together and crafted a guidebook to help others know what key practices to adopt?  And what if they got together across the planet to build a cross-cultural model of success?

            What if that model contained guidance on how to avoid mistakes and problems that plague organizations of all types?

            Welcome to the world of ISO.  The International Organization of Standards has attempted to do this and they and their 165 member nations continue to improve on it since after World War 2.  I have seen over and over again, how implementation of the “standard” for quality in organizations has not only helped increase the bottom line, but helped improve customer AND employee satisfaction.

If you’re interested in more on the creation of the standard, check out Wikipedia at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_9000.

            Some people have had experiences with older versions of the standard that aimed to clarify and expand on Military Standards, produced by the US and UK governments to define what they wanted from their vendors.  Intense in paperwork demands, the older version of the model was too overwhelming for most small businesses and had little application for organizations offering services instead of manufacturing parts and pieces to be used as components for large equipment.

            I have been working with the standard in my work life since the first one was published in 1987 (whoops, letting my age slip).  The most recent version, launched in 2015, focuses more on getting results than creating paperwork and procedures that may or may not be useful.

            My consulting business, Better Days LLC, is dedicated to helping businesses, big or small, learn to benefit from pearls in the ISO 9001 standard, whether they need to certify, want to certify, or just want to learn to be compliant to escalate their organization’s success to the next level.

            I love to share lessons learned in my journey of using the ISO standards and helping others to implement them across the last few decades, through all its changes.  I hope you’ll join me in exploring the wisdom and power that a mastermind effort across many nations can create.

            I have a summary lesson and a more in-depth overview of the entire ISO 901 standard for you to enjoy, offered by my friends at TapasForLifeClick here to jump in!


September 19, 2016
by Day
1 Comment

Gold in the New Standard for Quality

quality-blue-magnifyer
Since the ISO 9001:2015 standard for quality was released, I have been learning the standard, helping clients to get requirements met and helping create and implement systems to help organizations find their way to better results.

The new version of the standard has more focus on service organizations than in the past, so it’s much more broadly applicable than to just manufacturing or product-oriented businesses. And I’m amazed at the improvements service businesses see when they adopt the standard.

What a joy it has been to be a part of helping others implement this standard — and others that are based on it. For companies who already have certification, I believe they’ll find that the new documentation requirements are a breath of fresh air. It’s no longer necessary to document everything! There are no required procedures and no requirement to have a quality manual any longer. In my 20 years of working within the standard, I found only the quality manager and the auditor ever read it anyway. Now, you choose what you need documented as a procedure or not. Most of the requirements are more concerned about ensuring documented evidence exists to prove that processes achieve what they’re intended to achieve. I can’t imagine that any organization wouldn’t want that as well!

Some of the new requirements may feel a bit daunting, but they don’t put a huge demand on any organization. In my view, shifting the work that was done as “preventive” measures easily fits into the risk assessment requirements, so there’s no need for new, complicated approaches. The requirement around tracking processes has evolved from practices adopted by the best, the most successful organizations from 95 countries around the world. Who wouldn’t want access to THAT kind of wisdom?

I am located in the Kansas City metro area, but I travel to assist companies who need me. I have active clients in Kansas City, Missouri, in Lees Summit, MO, in Kansas City, KS, Shawnee, KS, and in Farragut, Tenn. I’ll be sharing what I learn (maintaining confidentiality, of course) and if you or your organization can make any improvements in the workplace from what I share, BRAVO! If I can help with your organization’s journey, let me know. After all, we spend more than half of our waking hours in the workplace, why not make it a place you enjoy? Why not have your efforts yield success? Quality tools can sure help you get there!

January 11, 2016
by Day
20 Comments

Love work – appreciate the gift!

            “I love my job, I love my job, I love my job.”  I walked into an office of a friend once and heard her saying this to herself, facing away from the door, trying to convince herself that she wanted to be there for the day and wanting to change her attitude about whatever was going on that day.

            I thought later about what she was doing and the value of what she was saying.  Wise, wise woman. 

  1. For those of us who choose to work, don’t we spend most of our awake lives in that job … on site at the workplace?  Since we’re spending more than half of our adult lives there, then why shouldn’t we love it?
  2. There may be situations where we feel stuck in a particular job, and even though there may be other options available, we choose to stay where we are.  We have the freedom to leave and seek other employment, or even to do other things like start our own business.  So why not love it?
  3. We choose to go every day for some reason that fulfills us.  On one level, it may be about money, but more often, research indicates that it’s about making contributions and finding some sense of fulfillment.  So why not love it?

            Of course, we’re going to have moments where challenges feel a bit overwhelming.  Those are the moments that push us to be better, to grow, to learn, to strengthen our skills and talents.  And we can choose how we feel about those situations.  We can actually love those too.

            And the relationship roller coasters we ride at work can also help us to grow, in how we relate to people in general.  Our exposure to people of different cultures, educational backgrounds and tendencies is a gift of options in behaviors and points of view that we can observe and like a smorgasbord, select different ways of seeing or thinking about things and discovering new options of other cultures and lifestyles to explore.

            I took her advice (though it wasn’t quite given as such), and began to explore the ways that I actually loved my job at that time.

            Friends, accomplishments, appreciation for the money and opportunities I was enjoying topped my list.

            How about you?  What are those things you love most about your work?

            And if you’d like to look at more ways to manage your work to make it more enjoyable, I invite you to explore my TapasForLife course contribution, “Quality Organization”, (https://tapasforlife.teachable.com/p/quality-organization).  You might also enjoy other courses by my friends at Tapas For Life, bite-sized online courses for pure enjoyment.  https://tapasforlife.teachable.com/

Love work - organize it so you can.