How the Science of Quality can Protect Society

In September, the Chartered Quality Institute London branch hosted an event on the power of Quality in protecting Society. As a member of the steering committee, it was my turn to organise the event. As it is the centenary of the CQI, and in order to celebrate throughout the entire year, each of the months had a specific theme. If you receive the Quality World Magazine you would have seen each theme already.

September was the month of how quality can protect society. I immediately thought of a speaker who presented to the branch in 2017 about the key skills quality professionals should have; and how auditors should move away from being ‘policemen’ into assessors and provide suitable recommendations to their organisations, by thoroughly understanding the context of the business and its operating model. He was such an inspirational speaker and engaged with everyone in the room. I thought – he would be the right person to explore the topic of protecting society and Quality.

Des Kelly is a Partner Consultant as Process Management International (PMI). He has lead many of PMI’s interventions for major global organisations. These have covered whole client systems from product design, procurement through to manufacturing, marketing and IT. Prior to joining PMI in 2004 he had extensive experience as an automotive executive. Des did not disappoint and accepted the invitation to inspire the Quality Professionals of the London Branch. And so the event was held on the 19th of September.

“It is important to understand the difference between how things are delivered vs what is acceptable.” Des Kelly

The strong message that the event had is how the science of quality – yes, you read it right! – the SCIENCE of quality can help protect society. This puts the profession at a different level, not merely because lots of process analysis and diagnosis can be run based on the science of numbers and how they can help us identify un-welcomed variation, but also because it holds weight that each quality professional should be aware of. It is important to recognise and educate others on what we do to better drive change.

The event was very engaging especially that Des gave everyone a taster of the Red Bead experiment by Deming. Various attendees participated and the message was loud and clear and delivered in perfect sense of humour. Variation in any process has an impact on how people feel and respond to such variation.

Red Bead Activity

If Variation is caused by a process that is simply not capable of delivering the customer’s desired outcome, the impact on people could be very negative. Having a process that is driven based on luck will leave everyone frustrated and disengaged, not to mention the potential negative wellbeing effect this could cascade onto people’s lives.

Throughout the event, Des discussed the different types of waste as defined by Deming, and explored Taguchi’s loss theory. Des used 2 examples,one from the shipping world and another from the engineering world.

Taguchi’s Loss Function Theory

Yes, a small delay in loading cargo onto a ship in a port would cause delays in departure. Delays in departure means more time spent by crew at sea. More time spent at sea could mean time away from families and loved ones, and could potentially have a negative impact on their own lives. This, of course, leaves the topic of cost implications on the side. (delays means cost at port, means cost for operator, means delays for other ships who need to use a vacant spot at the port, means delays for the crew of that other ship, means potential lost for ship owners who need to turn around the ship for another cargo journey, means delays in delivery of cargo to its final destination, and so on.

Now lets go back to the kick off – we were only late by couple of hours. A huge knock on effect.

The event was very engaging and as always Des won everyone over and inspired us all. We hope to get Des back into the branch but to run the red bead experiment in its entirety and have everyone leave with solid lessons learnt.

If you would like to understand’s Deming cycle – PDCA, here is the concept in one minute presented by The Daily Project Manager on LinkedIn:

Deming PDCA (Video by: The Daily Project Manager)

I was unable to locate a video about Taguchi’s loss function that is brief and concise similar to PDCA. I will continue to explore and will update this post as soon as I find a suitable one. If you have come across one, please do comment and share it!

If you would like to attend one of the events we host in London, please get in touch. They take place regularly in central London, few steps away from Chancery lane tube station. And guess what, you do not need to be a member to attend. Drop me and note and I assist accordingly.

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