Quality Progress - January 2016 - (Page 24)
BACK TO BASICS
BY KENNETH THOMAS
Turning 'Who' Into 'How'
Basic tips to stop finger-pointing and start problem solving
"IT'S YOUR fault!" Or, "Things got messed
up because of the finance department!"
In her article, "Admitting When You're
conduct a five whys analysis, it is often
Wrong," Tamara E. Holmes advises, "Tell-
effective to bring all stakeholders together
ing colleagues you've made a mistake is
to brainstorm and share ideas. To benefit
something similar to this? When things go
sometimes the best course of action."3 She
from the creativity sparked by a success-
wrong, we are quick to assign blame or
suggests taking the following steps:
ful brainstorming session, certain ground
point fingers. According to Rodger Talbert
1. Admit the error.
rules should be established and communi-
in his article, "The Blame Game," "People
2. Request guidance.
cated to the group. Recommended ground
can become so preoccupied with placing
3. Step up and repair.
blame that they lose sight of problem reso-
4. Learn from mistakes.
* One person speaks while all others
How many times have you heard
lution. This leads to continued failure."1
The person responsible for making
the error must quickly step up and admit
* Everyone gets a chance to speak.
be to move away from trying to determine
the mistake, regardless of its size or
* There are no "dumb" ideas.
"who" was at fault and quickly transition
importance. Additionally, the operating
* No one person will be allowed to domi-
into a problem-solving mindset of "how"
climate should encourage all employees,
When things go wrong, the goal should
to make things better.
from executives down, to be courageous
and take responsibility for their actions.
nate the discussion.
* Agree to disagree.
While there is no guarantee that con-
Getting past the "who"
This will likely result in a reduction in
ducting a brainstorming session will lead
At times, many organizations have difficul-
the secondary problems associated with
to the 100% perfect solution to a problem,
ty moving past the "who," and, as a result,
attempting to assign blame, such as loss of
the probability of making better, more ra-
resources are wasted and costs increase.
trust, bickering and loss of synergy.
tional decisions is increased when you tap
into the creativity of others and involve
The time and brainpower expended in
conducting the search for the responsible
Getting to the "how"
relevant stakeholders in the decision-
party could be better used in brainstorm-
With the "who" behind us, we can now
ing solutions to the problem. To facilitate
determine "how" to go about solving
a quick move into the problem-solving
the problem. To determine how to solve
it is not important "who" made the error,
phase, it is recommended that those
problems, you must first clearly define the
but "how" the error can be corrected, you
involved in the failure step up and take
problems and identify any root causes.
improve your chances of solving problems
Further, by acknowledging the fact that
You will find that a fishbone or Ishikawa
in the most economical and timely manner
This action is easier said than done.
diagram is a powerful tool, and when used
In W. Edwards Deming's book, Out of the
properly, it will help you drill down to the
Crisis, one of the 14 points of management
potential root cause of a problem.
is to, "Drive out fear, so that everyone may
The use of a five whys exercise can
work effectively for the company."2 For this
also be helpful. After the root cause is
to work, the organizational culture must
identified, tools such as the plan-do-
promote open and honest communica-
check-act (PDCA) cycle, Six Sigma and
tion, and recognize that people are human.
lean can be used for problem solving and
Mistakes, as well as bad choices, will occur
from time to time.
FISHING FOR SOLUTIONS
To develop a fishbone diagram or
For more on developing fishbone diagrams, check out Michael S. Perry's
November 2006 QP article, "A Fish (bone) Tale." Find it in the Back to Basics
archive under the "Departments and Columns" tab at www.qualityprogress.com.
24 QP * www.qualityprogress.com
1. Rodger Talbert, "The Blame Game," Industrial Paint &
Powder, May 2005, p. 4.
2. W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, MIT Press, August
2000, p. 23.
3. Tamara E. Holmes, "Admitting When You're Wrong," Black
Enterprise, Vol. 37, No. 10, May 2007, p. 124.
KENNETH THOMAS is a process
engineer and quality assurance
manager with Engineering Solutions
and Products Inc. in Killeen, TX. He
earned an MBA in organizational
psychology and development, and
operations management from
American Intercontinental University.
An ASQ senior member, Thomas is a certified Six Sigma
Master Black Belt, an ASQ-certified quality engineer and a
Project Management Institute-certified associate in project
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - January 2016
According to Plan
Use Your Head
Stakeholder Management 101
All About Data
Eight Simple Steps
Which Six Sigma Metric Should I Use?
Turning ‘Who’ Into ‘How’
In the Beginning
Outputs and Outcomes
That’s So Random—Or Is It?
Improving a System
Putting It All on the Table
Know the Drill
It’s Fun To Work With an F-M-E-A
Solve Problems With Open Communication
Tell Me About It
Separate the Vital Few From the Trivial Many
To DMAIC or Not to DMAIC?
Breaking It Down
1 + 1 = Zero Defects
Curve Your Enthusiasm
Make a Choice
What Is a Fault Tree Analysis?
Successful Relationship Diagrams
The Benefits of PDCA
Return on Investment
The Art of Root Cause Analysis
Why Ask Why?
Get to the Root of It
Checks and Balances
Clearing SPC Hurdles
Supplier Selection and Maintenance
Building a Quality Team
Plan Experiments to Prevent Problems
Quality Progress - January 2016