Feburary Newsletter

Section Loses Long Time Friend

The Saginaw Valley Section of the ASQ was saddened by the recent passing of our esteemed colleague, Dr. Shantakumar Palaniswami.  He was known as just Kumar to all of his many friends.  Kumar served in many capacities during his long association with the ASQ.  Professor Kumar was an outstanding leader in the Business School at Central Michigan University.  Regarding the ASQ, Kumar is best known for his work with the Central Michigan University Student Section. 

The members of Saginaw Valley Section of the ASQ offer our condolences to Kumar’s immediate family and his extended CMU family

Continue Reading

November Newsletter

September Dinner Review

In September, a joint dinner in partnership with NAPM and APICS was held.

At this meeting, Brian Nixon presented “The Sales Matrix, Buyer Types and Buyer Behaviors.”

September 2012 Dinner Meeting

Brian Nixon presenting “The Sales Matrix, Buyer Types and Buyer Behaviors.”

He discussed the “old days” where the salesperson was a jack of all trades and master of none.  In today’s different environment, companies have developed a strategy of a sales buying process for decision making.  Sales people need to know the purchasing and buying process.

He reviewed several buyer types.  These include the user buyer who is the end user of the product, the technical buyer who is interested in technical specifications and training, and the economic buyer who is focused on cost and return on investment where the quality of the product is important.  Each of these basic buyer types effects buying criteria and behavior.

The key take away is that organizations should be able to articulate a buying process for all (sales, purchasing, and quality) to understand.  A salesperson’s role is to understand this buying process and ask the right questions to uncover and understand buyer types and behaviors.


Teach 5S with This Fun Exercise

During the October Dinner Pre-Meeting, we played a shortened version of the 5S Numbers Game.  This is a great way to demonstrate the power of the Lean principle of 5S (Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize and Sustain).  Participant handout material for the game and a facilitator guide can be found at the website link below.



October Dinner Review

At the October dinner meeting, Mr. Lee Johnson gave a presentation titled “Quality in an Alien Environment.”

Lee has had an extensive quality career and will celebrate his 40th anniversary as an ASQ member next year.  Lee focused most of his presentation sharing stories from his experiences as a DoD contractor servicing the U.S. Army in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, and from his time in Libya providing services to the Libyan Government.

October 2012 Dinner Meeting

Mr. Lee Johnson giving his presentation titled “Quality in an Alien Environment.”

As you can imagine, these were not your average quality issues.  While many of us have our own stories about our companies becoming ISO certified, it was impressive that Lee helped get this done in two concurrent theaters of war.

One of the themes that Lee focused on was just how much we take for granted in basic quality principles that cannot be assumed to exist in third world countries.  For example, we may take for granted that people will use the right tool for the job, but how to do you get the point across to follow standard work instructions when you find a person in the field “hammering” a screw with a rock?  In addition, it was not uncommon to train someone the exact way to do a job and watch them do it properly.  However, as soon as you left, they would return their old way of doing it.

Another story was about just getting people to work and staying there. Some employees were paid for each day worked and a full day was defined as a minimum of four hours.  As can be predicted, some employees left after four hours.

It wasn’t all work during Lee’s travels either.  He showed pictures of a site seeing trip he went on.  Libya happens to be home to some of the most spectacular and unspoiled Roman Empire ruins.  There were many other positive experiences that these assignments allowed Lee to have.  However, not all of the stories Lee shared had happy endings.  He and his wife talked about the many friends they have made across the globe.  One of these friends included US Ambassador Chris Stevens.  He was one of the four Americans killed in the embassy attacks in Benghazi on September 11th of this year.  Just one more reminder of the things we may take for granted in our “normal” quality environment.





A Matter of Lean

Written by Cary Black

It never ceases to amaze me as a Quality Professional how valuable Lean practices can be in the promotion of efficiency, the elimination of costly waste, the improvement of productivity and as a mechanism for the acceleration of continuous improvement. It seems every organization, committee, team, or individual would jump at the chance to use Lean principles if they understood the value added. Efficiency increases, productivity ncreases, and happier employees all contribute to enhance the bottom-line of the organization. This is where Lean will take you.
As I was traveling last week, I had a most amazing Delta experience, which, in my mind is a beautiful example of why Lean is cool. We often compare and contrast as a problem solving approach… I will call my Delta experience an anti-Lean adventure.

As I was waiting in the Flint airport, at the gate, I noticed the plane would have only been about half-full. We were told that there were maintenance issues and the flight was cancelled. They put us in a shuttle bus which took us to Detroit where we arrived about two hours later. The folks at Flint would not check us onto our Detroit connections, so we had to wait in line for check-in in Detroit. The kiosks were not working for us because our first flight from Flint had been cancelled and this apparently confused the system in Detroit.
As each of us impatiently looked at the clock and calculated an approximate time in line based on the thirty or so people in front of us and an approximate 10 minute wait time required for each check-in through the two Delta clerks, we wondered if our connections were doomed as well.
We did finally get through, and to our gate with maybe five minutes to spare. We were told we would be boarding soon. Then, they indicated that someone had gotten sick on the plane and they had to bring in a special clean-up crew to clean up the mess.  It took roughly an hour and twenty minutes, and we boarded a rather smelly aircraft. As the pre-flight bustle was quieting down, we were told we had to deplane because of maintenance issues. We were told we could leave our possessions on the plane, however.
Sitting outside the gate, maybe a half hour later, an announcement was made that the flight was cancelled and we then had to retrieve our possessions. They indicated they were looking for another plane for us.  A half hour later, another plane was located and could be found about 20 gates further down the A concourse. Off we went shaking our heads.

Twenty minutes later they announced it was time to board. As we formed our lines, it appeared another problem had developed. The computer that controlled the
scanner was not letting the two Delta people access the system. Apparently it had been locked out by the previous Delta occupants of the gate.
About a half hour later, another individual showed up, and twenty minutes after looking confused and typing on the keyboard, the system came up and we were allowed
to board. Praise Deming!
Finally, we were on our way. We made the slow cruise out to the tarmac. It was a busy day in Detroit due to the snow storms out east so things went slow. After about 45
minutes on the tarmac, an announcement came that the plane had maintenance issues and we would be returning to the gate.
For most of us, the frustration we had been feeling transitioned to laughter and head shakes. It had become a comedy of errors, and I think we all had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would likely not be enjoying a fine bowl of gumbo on Bourbon St. this evening, as we had planned.
After about 20 minutes of milling around outside of the gate, they announced they had found another plane for us. We plodded down the terminal another 30 gates to enjoy the rest of what today’s entertainment had to offer.
This flight actually worked. However, prior to boarding, they announced that this flight was in an “over-booked” situation and they started asking for volunteers to
relinquish their seats. There was another array of chuckles as the new plane was a 757 and clearly fit more people than the previous two DC-9’s (where there was no overbooking situation announced or implied). It did appear however, that there was more people ready for this flight than had been present for the other two…hmmm.  There was undefined absurdity in the air at Detroit Metro this day.

I don’t recall anyone volunteering, and boarding commenced. Once we were all seated and the door was about to close, an official from Delta came on board with two TSA personnel, and announced that two people had to leave the plane due to seating limitations. No volunteers emerged. The official randomly picked an older man and a young woman and told them to leave the plane immediately. These individuals were angry. The TSA folks bore their best stern faces and looked like they were ready to “help” these people deplane if necessary.

After the two folks were gone, two Delta stewardesses entered the plane and sat in the two empty seats. Apparently they had to work a flight out of New Orleans the next
morning. Nice.

We finally made it to the Big Easy approximately nine hours late. Amazingly enough, our baggage made it as well. They must run pretty Lean baggage handling

As I pondered the totality of this experience, I was thinking of what a great opportunity for implementing Lean at Delta presents. The examples presented in this writing could be presented as a problem solving tool for implementing a dozen different lean tools in as many different ways.

Perhaps, we could as an ASQ Section, should write a proposal for a Lean implementation strategy and perhaps contribute to the longevity of Delta Airlines. I have to think that their sustainability might be problematic based on their current systems if our experience was resultant of common cause failures within their systems. Perhaps the assimilation of NWA was just too much. Let’s reach out to them in the interest of Quality altruism, and enjoy that wonderful bowl of gumbo on Bourbon St.

Quality In Education

Written by Cary Black
As a parent and Quality Professional, I have had a great personal interest in exploring Quality Principles in application to the public education of my children. I feel lucky in that my children have had the opportunity to attend Handley and the Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy (SASA) for their K-12 education. Both of these schools offer unique approaches to education enhancement with progressive curriculums and an emphasis in diversity.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) program instituted at Handley two years ago is a fine example of how these schools, through unique and diverse approaches are actively improving the Quality of the their student’s education. It is a great honor for me to have Kathy and Beverly present the essence of the IB program to our section. We hope to integrate their presentation with aspects of how Quality Tools and Concepts can be applied to our education systems, and hopefully open the doors for our section to become an active resource for our local education community.

Certainly many of us have read and have various degrees of familiarity with the handful of public school districts that have embraced Baldrige or other Quality based initiatives as a basis for improving teaching and learning within the classrooms.

A fundamental principle that drives the Baldrige approach in education is the ageold Quality concept of PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, and Act). Having the PDSA strategy as an overriding guide in the Kaizen process for education naturally leads to improvements in all aspects of the educational process.

The PDSA process as an over-all philosophy can drive the continuous improvements of the educational system. To drive the PDSA itself, teacher’s, students, and administrators can be taught simple Quality Tools and strategies such as Brainstorming, Root Cause Analysis, Pareto charting, Fishbone diagrams, Affinity diagrams and a plethora of other basic Quality Tools. These tools can be used to benchmark, define, and accelerate the continuous mprovement processes within the PDSA philosophy.

ASQ has put forth multiple ‘Quality in Education’ programs where basic Quality tools can be applied to the classroom. One such program called Koalaty Kid has been incorporated into over 70 schools throughout the United States. In a Quality Progress article from August of 1996, Donna Green defines ASQ’s Koalaty Kid program as follows:
“What Is Koalaty Kid?
Koalaty Kid is a system for continuous improvement in a can-do atmosphere.
This student-centered approach aims to create a school environment in which all
• Sustain enthusiasm for learning
• Behave responsibly
• Feel proud of themselves and their achievements
• Strive to meet high standards
To achieve these ends, Koalaty Kid embraces both the spirit and the substance of total quality. School teams apply quality principles and tools to make changes they deem important. At the same time, Koalaty Kid emphasizes a positive school environment, establishes high standards, provides delight in successes, recognizes accomplishments, and produces excitement about challenges.

Using the Koalaty Kid approach, teams first identify targets for improvement. Then they work toward achieving those targets by establishing standards of excellence, communicating clear expectations, involving all stakeholders (everyone who has an interest in the process or the outcome), managing by processes, measuring progress, and
recognizing and rewarding success.

By applying this approach to well-chosen areas, schools can create an environment in which students maintain excitement about learning, behave responsibly, feel proud of their accomplishments, and form a habit of excellence.

In such a setting, students thrive. Equally important, they learn how to work with others toward mutual goals. The other real benefit is that students also learn how to apply the principles, techniques, and tools of total quality-all of the skills that will have immeasurable value later in life.”

As Chair of the Saginaw Section, I am hopeful that our membership can play a role in our respective communities and become an active resource for our local public and private educational forums.

Please come to our dinner meeting and let’s enjoy some unique and interesting perspective on Quality in Education.
Cary Black
Chairman of the Board
ASQ Saginaw Section 1004

ASQ 1004 News Items

  • Congratulations to the Saginaw ASQ Section members for attaining the Quality Management Process Gold Excellence Award, and the Total Quality Award for the 2008-2009 Season!!! This is a great honor for all of us and reflects the integrity and dedication of our Section members!
  • The ASQ Essay contest for the CMU Section began in the late fall. We are giving the students until March 15th so
    that they will have plenty of time to write their essays. As always, the student section is invited to attend.
  • Our current section membership is remaining fairly constant at 173 members.
  • For those preparing for recertification, please contact Mark Ouellette (Recertification chair) at 800-248-0820, extension 2314, or send an e-mail (mouellet@duro-last.com).

Busting the Myths

 What makes a Quality System work? What makes a Quality System fall short or even fail? Our speaker this month, Kirk Peterson will address some of these questions in his presentation on September 23rd.

I’d like to take the opportunity to share some perspectives I have regarding such questions.

As a quality professional, I have observed systems work, systems thrive, and systems fall flat on their systemic faces…In these observations, I have noted certain key elements that appear fairly consistent within the various responses.

In an effort to be brief, it appears to me, that the primary mode of success or failure is directly related to the mindset and attitudes of the folks expected to implement and work within the Quality System. For systems that have not done so well, how often have we heard the ‘change theme whine’ of: “…We’ve always done it that way”? When such a ‘change theme whine’ is pervasive throughout the organization, good quality, and good change emerging from good quality will be severely hindered.

Conversely, in those organizations where Quality Systems have engendered success, there is a broad sense of unity and purpose across the company. There additionally appears to be a cultural embrace for optimal improvements through change and continuous improvement.

Indeed, I have seen companies chase after Six Sigma or ISO 9001 for the sole purpose of being able to market the concept…yet missing the whole bottom line point of what the spirit of such practices are designed to create.

At the end of the day, isn’t any Quality System simply a tool to plan, measure, analyze, react and deploy change for the specific purpose of continuous improvement across all levels? Isn’t such a thing the final reason we might go through the trouble of implementing a Quality System of whatever the flavor of the month is…

My myth buster in this article is simply my personal observation that if any Quality System results in great success, or great failure, it is because it was designed in a way that engaged (or failed to engage) the practitioners to grasp the idea that change is good and continuous improvement is better.

Thus, for any Quality System to work, the first task is to get a buy-in from the folks expected to practice the “art”. Let them help design the system, let them define the needs, let them weigh in, and let them own the system. The more any Quality System is built on the ideas of the individuals of a culture, the more an over-all cultural buy-in will occur, and likely, the more profound and measurable the continuous improvement elements will become. If done correctly, the quality system will feed-back upon itself and amplify as one success begets another…and so on…so goes a simplistic observation of a successful quality system.

Obviously, at the other end is when there’s a quality system attempted where there’s a cultural resistance to change…the probability for failure is high unless the cultural element is considered and actively dealt with as part of the quality deployment process…Thus, in summary it would seem that it’s the attitudes of the folks, not the specific nature of the quality system that determines the relative success of a quality system.

Written by Cary Black

Letter from the Chair

I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome you back for what we hope will be another great year. We have some interesting speakers slated, and are looking at expanding our programs to be a stronger and higher value added resource for our members. We encourage membership feedback to help provide us information on what we can do for you in designing a program that better meets your needs. Please feel free to e-mail any board member with your ideas and suggestions.

This year, we are reducing the number of dinner meetings to five.  We used to have eight spread out over the year. Our strategy for doing this was to give us more time to make the meetings extra special, as well as for helping our Section’s budget for the year. Further, we will be staggering the days of the weeks for the meetings for easier scheduling amongst our membership.

We are considering offering childcare for the upcoming dinner meetings. We agreed to solicit feedback from you (our membership) to determine if there is sufficient interest for such a program. If you have an interest in such, please contact a board member.

I look forward to seeing you all at our upcoming dinner meetings.
Best Regards
Chair Saginaw ASQ Section

RSS Feed 101

Have you noticed at the bottom of the links on the left is the section called Meta?  If not there are a couple powerful links down there.  They are the Entries RSS and Comments RSS.  Have you ever clicked on them?  They ask you the question, “How do you want to subscribe?”   What is RSS and  why would I want to subscribe?

RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication.  RSS is a way for you to keep tabs on the articles and notices that we post without having to come to the page all the time.  Want to find out more on how it works.  Check out this page.

Now, click on the RSS feed in the lower right corner and subscribe to be first to know about any of the updates here!!!!!

Dr. Juran Passes

From ASQ’s Friday Fast Facts –

One of quality’s gurus, Dr. Joseph M. Juran, passed away February 28, 2008, at the age of 103. Known as the “father” of quality, he made many contributions in the field of quality management. He said, “It is most important that top management be quality-minded. In the absence of sincere manifestation of interest at the top, little will happen below.” Read more about Juran on the ASQ Web site.