Which Process Improvement Tools Are You Using?

Performance Improvement Solutions for Your Business Needs August 2006
In this issue

  • Which Process Improvement Tools Are You Using?
  • U.S. Companies Lag in Social Responsibility
  • Changing Times



Welcome to Our New Newsletter Format! Our goal is to deliver you information on performance improvement methods, techniques, and current news.

If you have a subject matter in mind you would like to learn more about, please let us know. Thank you very much for your support!

Walter Tighe, President

Which Process Improvement Tools Are You Using?


Quality Digest Magazine last month asked their readers: Which three tools have given you the biggest savings? The Top 10…

  • Brainstorming 41.5%
  • Pareto Charts 38.5%
  • Cause and Effect 34.1%
  • Flow Charts 31.9%
  • Control charts 24.4%
  • Design of Experiment (DOE) 23.7%
  • Failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) 23.0%
  • Poka Yoke 15.6%
  • Histograms 11.9%
  • Checksheets 10.4%


The fact is that these process improvement tools have been around for decades long before Six Sigma and Lean became part of the quality landscape methodologies. With a structured process the top 5 tools alone will provide your organization a system for identifying system and process inputs, key characteristics, measures and outputs. This list of tools are the basic fundamental building blocks to process improvement results and when used effectively help identify the seven types of deadly process waste, promote employee involvement, and drive results.




U.S. Companies Lag in Social Responsibility


A poll performed by the American Society for Quality found that while 96 percent of respondents indicated that their companies’ corporate stance toward social responsibility will greatly affect the United States’ economic future, more than 40 percent of them don’t have a social responsibility policy in place. In what may be the “Enron effect,” of those that did have such a policy in place, 70 percent of them reported doing so since 2001. The poll also reveals that two-thirds of the business leaders would implement a social responsibility policy primarily to maintain their brand image, enhance employee morale and reduce legal liability.

ASQ conducted the poll in preparation for its development of a global standard for social responsibility. In the wake of corporate scandals, environmental disasters, child-labor violations and dangerous work environments, the voluntary standard will provide consistent principles and direction for an organization’s commitment to social responsibility. Experts from the public and private sectors are invited to join the team that will develop the standard. “It’s clear that the choices we make today to ensure a more ethical work and living environment will certainly have a major impact tomorrow,” says Paul Borawski, ASQ executive director and chief strategic officer. “There could not be a more timely opportunity for organizations to join together and make their voices heard about the issue of social responsibility.”



Changing Times


Bob Dylan was right. The times, they are a-changin’. A recently released study found that most U.S. multinational companies have undergone–and are currently undergoing– great changes. The typical company is using an average of five change- management strategies. Quality management techniques have become an important part of managing change, with 56 percent and 41 percent of respondents reporting that Six Sigma and total quality management (TQM), respectively, were their preferred methodologies. Predictably, the vast majority of respondents reported that growth and cost reduction are the major reasons for their organizations’ changes. Growth was the most-cited reason for change, with 88 percent reporting it as an “important” source, and 42 percent citing it as an “extremely important” source of change. Cost reduction was second on the list, with 76 percent reporting it as an “important” reason for change, and 35 percent citing it as “extremely important.”

Not surprisingly, companies that see change as necessary for growth are the faster growers,” notes Karen Vander Linde, leader of change-management practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers, which performed the research. “Implementing change for cost reduction ensures that their growth will be profitable.” Other often-cited reasons for organizational change were domestic competition, new regulations, risk- management programs, energy costs and quality improvement programs. PricewaterhouseCoopers interviewed 133 top executives from major U.S.-based companies. Almost all respondents–98 percent–reported that senior management’s support of change activities is essential to success. Other critical success factors included employee involvement (95%), training programs (82%) and team-building exercises (77%). For more information, visit www.pwc.com and view “U.S. Multinationals Have Much at Stake in Change Management, PricewaterhouseCoopers Finds.”


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