by: Shawn P. Quigley
Whereas we have discussed some of the possible flaws in measurements we can all still agree that they are needed to provide both improvement in processes and the organization. However, other aspects of obtaining data for the production of quantifiable information: trend analysis and process evaluation, is the human factor both workers and management. As in so many of our conversations we look at the affect it has on the people who are essentially being evaluated by the information gathered for these measures. An issue we will discuss later in this post, but first let us look at the management aspect of this equation.
As a quality analysis person data may seem to be clear most of the time, but as a management person how do you gauge the data which is being received? Do you understand its’ meaning? Do you look at the outliers to forecast or do you think they are just noise to distract? Do you understand the source of the raw data and how it is perceived, collected, gamed, or otherwise manipulated by the workers and/or the people who are packaging it for your review? These questions; if answered honestly will shed light on why the data does not always support what is known about a process or project.
Example: how many times have you as a manager been shown that a project/process is working as anticipated just to be told later that the process needs changing because it cannot be worked as written or the project goes from on track to weeks or even months behind in the course of one day?
This brings the question: how could we not know this with all the data we collect on everything? Yes, it seems like an endless circle of questions.
To break some of these potential issues let’s look at one at a time:
- How do the people who are having their work, adherence to processes, project analyzed, and themselves analyzed perceive the data being collected. It may seem like a small question, but those are commonly where we find our best rewards. If the people being analyzed for data perceive it as a threat then they may see the need to manipulate that information to provide a perceived safe environment. If they see no value added by the data they might cause data scatter due a lackadaisical manner of collection. Thus causing the information to be useless. Many of these types of issues can be negated by having a “Shared Vision” with those personnel. Specifically, we will ensure our team understands our rationale for the measurement collection. But more than the rationale the benefit for them that the information can provide. As leaders and managers, we must ensure that our people can understand and see the benefit in these types on analysis. i.e. improving the processes to provide more job satisfaction.
- Do we as manager understand the system or systems which we are reviewing the data from? Without an understanding of the system and its co-dependencies on other systems a proper review of the trended data could led to an incorrect assumption. This is basic change management in which one must know the interrelationships between items and be able to asses the actual starting position to determine a direction which is less likely to lead to a poor course change. I liken it to the thought that is a ship crossing the ocean is 5* off when it starts it will arrive on a different contented. This in turn cause a more drastic course correction the longer it is allowed to proceed. Under this thought pattern it would be prudent to take the time to understand before making incorrect changes.