- “Translating need into requirements” is one of the important techniques used in customers’ satisfaction.
Discuss the role of this technique in continuous quality improvement management by studying a private sector organization.
role in continuous quality improvement management:
Continuous improvement in a management context means a never-ending effort to expose and eliminate root causes of problems. Usually, it involves many incremental or small-step improvements rather than one overwhelming innovation. From a Japanese perspective continuous improvement is the basis for their business culture. Continuous improvement is a philosophy, permeating the Japanese culture, which seeks to improve all factors related to the transformation process (converting inputs into outputs) on an on-going basis. It involves everyone, management and labour, in finding and eliminating waste in machinery, labour, materials and production methods.
The Japanese word for continuous improvement, kaizen, is often used interchangeably with the term continuous improvement. From the Japanese character kai, meaning change, and the character Zen, meaning good, taken literally, it means improvement.
Although kaizen is a Japanese concept, many U.S. firms have adopted it with considerable success by combining the best of traditional Japanese practices with the strengths of Western business practice, in other words, by merging the benefits of teamwork with the creativity of the individual. Some refer to its implementation in the West as lean manufacturing since, when combined with the principles of just-in-time (JIT), kaizen or continuous improvement forms the foundation for the concept of lean manufacturing.
The Toyota Production System is known for kaizen, where all line personnel are expected to stop their moving production line in case of any abnormality and, along with their supervisor, suggest an improvement to resolve the abnormality which may initiate a kaizen.
The cycle of kaizen activity can be defined as:
- Standardize an operation and activities.
- Measure the standardized operation (find cycle time and amount of in-process inventory)
- Gauge measurements against requirements
- Innovate to meet requirements and increase productivity
- Standardize the new, improved operations
- Continue cycle ad infinitum
This is also known as the Shewhart cycle, Deming cycle, or PDCA. Other techniques used in conjunction with PDCA include 5 Whys, which is a form of root cause analysis in which the user asks "why" to a problem and its answer five successive times. There are normally a series of root causes stemming from one problem, and they can be visualized using fishbone diagrams or tables.