There are a million vocabulary words surrounding Quality. Lean, Six Sigma, Kaizen, Root Cause Analysis, Pareto Chart, Data, Efficiency, Proficiency-all these things sound so intimidating that you just don’t know where to get started. But I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be complicated. The really cool thing about quality is that you can start a simple as you want to and just jump. Go ahead- I dare you!
Myth: You have to hire a six-sigma black belt to the tune of $100,000 a year to run your quality program the right way.
Fact: You don’t have to hire anybody new to start and maintain an excellent quality program.
Myth: You need to have a good grasp on KPIs, data and goals to get started. Fact: You need a pencil and a piece of paper to start collecting data!
Myth: You need to have concrete answers about what problems you need to solve in order to make meaningful changes in your business.
Fact: You can start by just asking a few questions and beginning to look at some of the things that annoy you the most, cost you the most money or contribute to staff frustration.
My goal today is to have you just get started with five simple steps!
Step 1: Start asking questions. For example:
- What is something that just drives you crazy at work everyday?
- Is there something that is always missing?
- Is there something that your customers constantly ask you for or complain about? • Do you even have a way to capture your customer’s feelings complaints? • Are your employees constantly squabbling about something in particular? • What was the thing that cost your company the most money recently?
- What are you constantly wasting a small amount of money on consistently every single day week or month?
Pick any of those things and start there.
Step 2: Start collecting data.
If you are not collecting customer/staff information at all, start there. Any of those things in that list of brainstorming items is a perfect thing to start on. Start recording data…IMMEDIATELY! And don’t let the word “data” scare you either! Data is simply information that you are capturing. For
example, every day simply start ticking off on a piece of paper how many times that annoying thing happens. You don’t have to buy any fancy equipment to do this. You literally need a pencil and a piece of paper. Print a blank calendar and simply make a slash every time that annoying thing happens each day. Then, at the end of the month, voila! You have data! • You have the total number of times that thing happened for the whole month. • You have how many times it happened each week.
- You have how many times it happened each day.
- And you can look at trends!!! You can see if there are times of the day, week or month that this particular thing happens most often.
Step 3: Ask MORE questions and make inferences.
Once you begin to notice trends, you can ask questions.
- Does it happen only when a certain person is working?
- Does it happen only with a particular subset of customers?
- Does it happen during a certain time of day? After lunch? When everybody’s exhausted? Data is so powerful because with data you can start to make inferences. Inferences are kind of like hypotheses (or educated guesses). You can start to ask questions and wonder why things are happening. And then, when you have a hunch about something, you can take a closer look at the next month of data you collect and see if you’re on to something.
Step 4: Problem Solving.
Now that you’ve thought about something to measure, captured your data and drawn your inferences, you can start to think about problem solving. There are so many techniques and ways that you can problem solve, but problem-solving doesn’t have to be complicated either. Try involving your team and brainstorming ideas together. Try something that your team suggests and then measuring the data for your third month and see if the change impacted your numbers. Remember to set goals based upon your data that are reasonable and measurable.
Step 5: Sustainability and Accountability
Once you have determined that something is working, do everything you can to get that information out there so your team can achieve consistency through doing the same process every time- think Chick fil A!
So there you have it, you are now armed to get ready and start your quality program. For more ideas and more quality coaching please email QualityProgramCoach@gmail.com and ask us how we can help. You don’t have to be an expert! You just have to get started!
Hi I’m Catherine Seeley, but all my friends call me Ginny.
I’m a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt with a Master of Arts in Leadership and Management. I earned my
undergraduate degree in Clinical Laboratory Science and spent sixteen years working in every area of the Clinical Laboratory including
Microbiology, Blood Bank, and more! I LOVE science and working behind the scenes in the Laboratory to care for patients and help their medical team figure out what’s wrong. Now, I work full time as a Quality
Coordinator for the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Maryland. I love teaching and inspiring others so they aren’t intimidated by all the lingo and tools in the world of quality and simply jump in and get a quality program started in their team, office, business or even at home!
I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be an expert at quality to jump in and get started. Don’t let all of those crazy Lean and Six Sigma vocabulary words make you feel like you’re not good enough or that you can’t do it yourself. I’m a “quality person” but I don’t think you need me in your life to get started.
My goal is to introduce people like you to the world of Quality, make a connection and empower you to get started making a difference in your business, home or office. I’m obsessed with efficiency, process improvement, data, graphs and using all of this information to your advantage to make your small business the best it can be. You don’t need to hire a whole team of quality experts (to the tune of $100K++ per year) to develop a quality program that’s right for you. With a few simple strategies, you can get started and I’m always here to help you grow your program when you’re ready. You can do this! I promise!