Inspect Products at the Right Time


Inspections used to be left until the later stages of the process – often just before the finished products were delivered to customers. As there was more chance of a product being faulty by the end of the process, all defects could be found in one big, final inspection. But the longer a unit is in a process, the more time and money is spent on it – so it makes sense to find faults as early as possible before any more money is wasted by working on a defective unit. It is better for a baker to find bad eggs when they arrive at the bakery, rather than use the eggs and then scrap the finished cakes.

Your first quality control inspections should come at the beginning of the process, testing materials as they arrive from suppliers – and there is a strong case for inspections within suppliers’ own operations. Then you should have inspections all the way through the process to the completion of the final product and its delivery to customers. Some particularly important places for insperctions are:

  • On raw materials when they arrive;
  • At regular intervals during the process;
  • Before high-cost operations;
  • Before irreversible operations, like firing pottery;
  • Before operations that might hide defects, like painting;
  • When production is complete;
  • Before shipping to customers.

This may seem like a lot of inspections, but remember that most of them are done by people working on the process. Quality at source means that the products are not taken away for testing in some remote laboratory, but are checked at each step before being passed on the next step.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Flatten your Organization


Flattening the organization means that each manager becomes responsible for more people. There is a limit to the number of people that one person can supervise, but this span of authority varies widely between jobs. Most people imagine that a manager can only handle a few subordinates. In reality, proper delegation allows you a surprisingly wide span, allowing a much flatter and leaner organization.

Your organization should have the best structure for achieving its goals. This structure shows the internal divisions of the organization; and the relationships between them. The structure is not fixed, but evolves to meet changing conditions. Unfortunately, this generally means a drift towards more complex structures, with more divisions, extra layers of management, longer chains of command, less delegation and more centralization. Endless levels of management can be used for minor rewards and recognition.

The proliferation of management layers is hopelessly inefficient. It forms an army of people whose only job is to force information to travel through a long and convoluted route before it is used, and makes sure that decision makers become hopelessly remote from the operations.

Delegation has clear advantages and empowerment allows you to reduce the layers of management. So the best type of organization is as flat as possible, with only a few layers of management. The organization must be flat, so that the top is connected to the people who actually make the money.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Principles of Quality Management


Vision-based:

  • Vision will give a sense of direction.
  • Vision will motivate human resource.
  • Vision will help the organization to stay focused.
  • Without vision an organization will fail.
  • Absence of vision will lead to confusion.

 Customer-focused:

  • Open economy has given away monopoly. It is buyer’s market which is in existence now.
  • Without customers no business can exist.
  • Internal customer orientation will improve productivity.
  • One dissatisfied customer can create havoc by unprecedented actions.
  • Retention of customer is the key issue in business.

 Prevention oriented:

  • Prevention is better than cure is a well acknowledged phrase.
  • Prevention orientation will take one nearer to ‘Zero Defects’ status.
  • Foolproof prevention techniques such as ‘Poka Yoka’ are available.
  • Corrective approach calls for costly monitoring mechanism.
  • Correction does not stop recurrence.

 Scientifically approached:

  • Scientific methods are based on fundamental or derived laws of mathematics and science and hence the foundation is strong.
  • Scientific methods are well proved over the years and hence chances of going wrong is remote.
  • Use of scientific methods gives a sense of pride and improves the self esteem of workers.
  • Unscientific methods make one ti depend on the previous experience, which may bot be appropriate.
  • Logical reasoning which may not always be appropriate is avoided in scientific methods.

 Process given more importance than end results:

  • End does not justify means.
  • Proper means will ensure quality result.
  • Zero defect is possible only if the processes are perfect.
  • Process orientation will make workers more responsible.
  • Result orientation will end up with huge los as all the defects are to be rejected.

 Data-based analysis:

  • Data-based approach will always give the best insight to the problem and solution.
  • Information-based or knowledge-based approach may mislead at all times.
  • Data collection is a strenous process; however the returns will be higher.
  • In many situations the raw data themselves will provide solutions to problems or at least provide useful clues.
  • Data collected and documented for one specific purpose, can well be used for some other purpose, thus providing a databank or multiple applications.

 Continuous improvement strategies

  • No one at any point of time can say that ‘Perfection’ has been achieved. Even six sigma companies talk about 3 ppm defects. Hence there is always scope for improvement in everything. Quality improvement is a never ending process.
  • The world has become so competitive that dynamism should reflect in every facet of business, even in product development.
  • Crativity and innovation are the order of the day in business circles.
  • Established tools such as ‘benchmarking’ are available for continuous improvement.
  • Improved products will have a cutting edge in the market.

 Cost conscious attempt:

  • ROI (Return on Investment) is the performance index for any business enterprise.
  • The visible quality costs are like the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of hidden  costs that go unnoticed.
  • Quality is free, meaning poor quality costs can be offset by good quality profit margin.
  • Affordability is the key factor for customers and profit margin is the key factor for manufacturers.
  • Prevention which could be done with $1 is missed, the failure/defects due to that will cost the company $10. the cost ratios are so high.

 Documentation for traceability

  • Stakeholders ae assured of the quality through documentation.
  • Traceability is effective and easy with documented information.
  • Documentation will amount to standardization.
  • To err is human; documentation helps in curbing human errors.
  • Role clarity is ascertained which reduces workplace confusion.

 Reward/Recognition assured

  • Recognition is one thing that every human being long for.
  • Motivation is the key factor for sustaining quality initiatives.
  • Rewards may be helpful in motivating non-performers to join quality initiators.
  • Disinterest in the job being done is the main culprit for low productivity and poor quality.
  • Human component plays a major role as compared to system component in quality initiatives.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Federal Type Organizations


For some companies, managing change means moving to federal organizations. In federal organizations (as in federal governments), power is distributed between a central authority and a number of constituent units, but the central units authority is intentionally limited. Organizing and disbursing power in this way enables a company to marshall resources and bring them to bear quickly, while giving remote units the authority they need to respond quickly to local challenges.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Knowledge Engineering


In the traditional approach to systems design, a system analyst, together with the ultimate end-users, or clients, for the project, will complete a functional specification of the system. At that point, the project is essentially in the hands of professional project management and programming staff, because that group possesses the knowledge and skill required to deliver the agreed upon features and functions. In the development of knowledge systems, this is simply not the case. Following the specification of function, a new problem arises. This is because it is not an algorithm that is being developed but knowledge that is being encoded for machine use.

 

The immediate problem is that traditional applications developers do not have sufficient knowledge of the applications area to complete the project from the starting point of a functional specification. This information generally exists in a variety of forms, depending on the application area. In some cases an individual or group of individuals may uniquely possess the relevant knowledge. In other cases, the knowledge may exist in the form of published materials like manuals or textbooks. In still other cases, the knowledge does not presently exist at all, and must be created and developed along with the system itself. This is an extremely difficult circumstance. Further compounding this problem is a critical factor: Regardless of the form in which the knowledge currently exists, it is not in a form that is ready for use by a knowledge system. Someone must decide what knowledge is relevant and desirable for inclusion, acquire the knowledge, and represent it in a form suitable for a knowledge system to apply. In all but trivial applications the task of representing the knowledge requires not only coding individual “chunks” of knowledge, but also organizing and structuring these individual components.

 

Historically, owing to the remoteness and enigmatic quality of artificial intelligence technologies, the person doing the actual systems development and the “expert,” or source of knowledge, were not the same. The availability of tools, in place of enigmatic technologies, has had an impact on reducing this problem. Even if one can imagine the case in which the “expert” whose knowledge is to be modeled is also an “expert” with the use of artificial intelligence development tools, there still remains a sizable problem.

 

In case where knowledge resides with some practitioner or expert, it does not exist explicitly as a series of IF …THEN rules, ready to be encoded. Most practitioners and experts find it difficult to explain explicitly what they are doing while solving problems. They are not cognizant of the underlying rules they are applying. Their expertise has been developed from numerous experiences and involves highly developed pattern recognition skills and heuristics.

 

In the case where the knowledge to be included is contained in text material like manuals, regulations, procedures, and the like, the information is still not in a form ready for inclusion in an expert system. It must be remembered that one of the most often cited advantages of expert systems is that they make explicit the knowledge that is most often implicit and unavailable for review, evaluation, dissemination, and modification. The task of making knowledge both explicit and available for systems application is that of knowledge engineering. Most literature on the development and application of knowledge systems has identified the need for individuals skilled in knowledge engineering as a critical factor to widespread use of technology.

 

Knowledge engineering involves acquiring, representing, and coding knowledge. The representation and coding aspects of systems development have been greatly impacted by these newly available tools. The speed with which prototyping can be accomplished has also helped reduce some of the difficulty in acquiring or refining knowledge. The knowledge engineer now finds it much less costly in time and effort to represent, code, and test early approaches to systems development, providing a more efficient feedback loop. This feedback loop is critical in the development of knowledge systems. The end-user/client for the project is, by nature, going to be much more involved in the systems design process. The “programmer” often is incapable of deciding if the system is behaving properly, owing to a lack of fundamental knowledge about the application area. This is simply not as strong a factor, where the programmer is capable of evaluating the accuracy and efficiency of algorithms. When the product is actionable knowledge rather than algorithms, the ability to evaluate project progress shifts to the end-user/client. This creates the increased emphasis on the feedback loop.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Empowering People


Empowerment gives people more control over – and responsibility for – their work. It is based on the idea that those most closely involved with operations are in the best position to make decisions about them. So it delegates responsibility as far as possible, with people using their knowledge and abilities to manage the details of their own job, free from the instructions and control of a more remote supervisor.

 

You can see the difference when you go into a shop to exchange some garment. Marks and Spencer has empowered employees, and the first person you meet will happily refund your money or change the garment as you prefer.

 

There are five main types of management style:

  1. I decide and you do – which is the traditional authoritarian approach;
  2. We discuss and I decide – which involves some discussion but responsibility remains at the higher level;
  3. We discuss and we decide – which is more collaborative and has some real delegation of control, but ultimately authority and responsibility remains with the senior manager;
  4. We discuss and you decide – which delegates most control of the decision;
  5. You decide and I’ll help if needed – where the senior manager hands over control, and acts as a coach and consultant if needed.

 The last level is closest to empowerment and is the approach that is becoming more widely accepted. As Bill Gates says, ‘Empowering leadership means bringing out the energies and capabilities people have and getting them to work together in a way they wouldn’t do otherwise.’

 

Empowerment gives more authority to people lower down the organization, and it also puts more demand on them. They must be willing to accept this responsibility, be able to make good decisions, work without supervision and probably form part of a team which completes in identifiable part of the whole process.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight