In this series on the role of mistakes and mistake-proofing in product and service quality, we have introduced a variety of ideas that challenge traditional thinking and methods. The reactions to these concepts are interesting. Some individuals, who have years of experience in Statistics or Statistical Process Control, simply cannot believe or accept these new concepts. Others reject them because accepting them requires change in their thinking, and even more importantly change in what they are doing. Still others accept the concepts intellectually, but without testing them—and without applying the new concepts. But a few actively seek to learn for themselves if the things that we have presented are correct—and actually test the principles and practices that we have suggested. Unlike any other approach to quality, you can quickly find out for yourself if the concepts we have presented are correct. We challenge you to learn for yourself if our concepts are correct, to take action to control mistakes, to control mistakes with The SMS Method.
Corporate Quality Leader – Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices
Learn for Yourself
Our first challenge for you, is that you learn for yourself what the major source of defects is within your company. Go to your company records of complaints and/or product defects and review the existing descriptions and root-cause analysis covering a period of six months to a year. Now group them in two piles: defects caused by mistakes and defects caused by excessive variation. This is not an expensive or difficult task in most organizations. And it is very informative. We would love to hear what you find. We feel quite certain that mistakes will prove to be the dominant quality problem—because that is what we have discovered in every organization we have examined. Every single one.
Next, simplify any process, product or part where you have defect history. You will know that you have simplified it when the process or product is easier to make or execute. You will also notice that the work can be done more quickly—without rushing. When you simplify, you simultaneously shrink execution time—and save money and reduce the defects. As someone once said, “You cannot spend as much money in a short period of time, as you can in a long period of time.” You just cannot make as many mistakes in a short time period as a long time period.
It Is Not What You Know—It Is What You Do That Counts
We are confident that by understanding the true source of modern defects that you can learn how to control them more effectively. However, simply knowing that mistakes are the dominant source of modern quality problems is not enough to bring about the needed changes. You really need to address mistakes. This is a major key to becoming and remaining competitive. You must act now. Consider what the position of your company would be in 5 to 10 years if your competitors learned to deliver essentially defect-free products while saving a ton of money—and your company has not. This can put your company at serious competitive disadvantage.
The SMS Method–Order Is Important
The SMS Method focuses on Simplying, Mistake-Proofing, and Setting. Interestingly, each of the elements of The SMS Method is effective because they eliminate or control mistakes. Simplifying eliminates many mistake opportunities. Mistake-proofing prevents or controls mistakes that cannot be eliminated by simplifying. Settings eliminate setup errors, adjustments, adjustment errors, and controls variation better than Statistical Process Control—for the powerful reasons we have already explained.
The order is important. Consider a process that you mistake-proof—and then simplify. Reversing the order in this way means that when you simplify, you will certainly eliminate the need for many mistake-proofing devices you just designed. It is always best to simplify first—because it eliminates the need for mistake-proofing devices and for settings. In a similar way, it is always best to mistake-proof before converting adjustments to settings, as the need for settings is eliminated in many cases by mistake-proofing. Thus, our approach saves the greatest amount of time, effort, and money for the least investment and effort.
May We Assist You?
We know that everyone strives to do outstanding work. We have spent years learning how to address the mistakes identified in this series. While you can rediscover the same things for yourself, we guarantee that we can teach you how to quickly achieve outstanding quality while saving more money than you can currently imagine can be achieved. One company that applied The SMS Method projected a 25 percent increase in plant productivity as the result of only one of the SMS solution they developed—and they developed over a hundred more. You too can learn dozens of simple techniques that help you see what is causing your mistakes, what is making each task difficult, how to make every product, service and task simpler, how to mistake-proof every action, and how to convert adjustments to settings. We are ready when you are!