Manchester TQM for Project Management

I recently had a phone call from the acquisition editor at Taylor and Francis, John Wyzalek.  He informed me that a book we wrote a couple of years back (Total Quality Management for Project Management), is being used at Manchester Metropolitan University, and gave me the contact information of the lady creating and teaching the class, Maria.  I have had a few calls with Maria Kapsali since then that have been very interesting.

We discussed how the Total Quality Management tools can help us avoid deluding ourselves.  However, at least equally important if not more so, is having a team come to some common understanding of what is being witnessed.  The discussion pointed us to how to evoke ideas of the source of some of the issues being witnessed.  For example, we explored starting with the brainstorming tool often associated with Total Quality Management, the Ishikawa Diagram or fishbone diagram.  The students had a project associated … Continue reading

Gemba Walk

Go to the place where the work is performed, that is the Gemba walk.  This does not apply just to manufacturing, but also line managers and their respective departments as well as to project management. You want to know what is going on, what could be better, go unto the work space and watch and talk with the people doing the work.

Where the work is performed, depends upon the work.  For example, if you are the manager of a product testing department, the place where the work is performed is likely the lab,  Go where the Hardware In the Loop (HIL) rigs and see how things are going, go to the test rooms where the environmental (hot and cold) and other stimuli (vibration) are administered to the product.  Learn how this work is actually being done. Ask questions about how the work is going.  What sort of things are difficult and why? What can we do to make the … Continue reading

5S

If you have spent any time in the automotive industry you have probably spent time working within a system called the 5S. Continue reading

Patent

How do new ideas occur to us? What is the secret mixture that enables this spark that creates something new?  I have long wondered this, including when watching my son build things that I found interesting, and with no clear sign of what of the source of that idea that became reality.  I saw him build things with Lego blocks, and I watched him build things at an online game called Roblox.  In both instances it made me think, what is the source?

The same is true for my own life, especially my work life.  I have been part of groups that have produced 7 US patents and other intellectual property.  Each time was so different it is difficult to discern an underlying theme that made this creation possible or at least facilitated.  What can be said in each instance to varying degrees, is there was a perceived difficulty or problem, some desired end state that was presently not … Continue reading

Mura (unevenness)

The unevenness or mura of the work wreak havoc on our work. Project demands fluctuate and working on multiple projects likewise creates or exacerbates the unevenness. In product development work can get heavy around gate reviews as the project must accomplish certain expectations and milestones are reviewed in the gate activities.  One functional department may not be at capacity, but anther may be running beyond capacity.  The arrival of the work from one department stacks up as input to the next department.  This then creates muda as we have waste in the form of over production.  All of this unevenness has impact on schedule and the people performing the work, and sometimes specialized equipment as the demand fluctuates wildly.

Material that our development team will use may also be subjected to this unevenness, think prototype parts, upon which we will test and learn about the product for the next iteration of the development loop.  When lead times are long, we may … Continue reading

Muri – Overburden

Muri is waste associated with pushing people, processes and equipment beyond the limits or overburdening. An organization may be enamored of working large numbers of overtime hours, but any benefit for such some at a cost, and this is an example of overburdening.

I once worked at a place in which the employees averaged being at the organization for between 10 – 20 years, and had vacation time commensurate with being within the organization per the company benefits manual. The people that had been with the company that long had more than 4 weeks of vacation, which is 160 hours off of the 2000 hours or total work hours approximates 1840.  On top of this time off, the company also offered special days that it gave off to everybody – think Thanksgiving and Christmas for example.  Yet when it came to calculate the work the organization could undertake, the organization used 1980 per person to estimate the total amount of … Continue reading

Starting a Fire

Do you know how to start a fire?  I am not talking about charcoal briquettes, or the use of combustion material such as  lighter fluid, gasoline, or those special wax products that can be used in your fireplace, no propane or gas used either.

I’m talking about the fires we make in the woods when we go camping. It is okay if you do not know how, in fact my life as had quite a few times when my boy scout experiences have been a benefit to more than my family or those with whom I am camping.  My son and I have made many campfires for cooking out or roasting marsh mellows. Before this, I had camped out without a tent and used the fire for warmth (and to keep away the vermin while we slept).  We have started fires when the material may be damp, but that is not to suggest that it is easy to start a fire … Continue reading

Tools and Teams

I recently saw a post on Twitter from the Great John Cutler on allow the team to pick the tools that they use to do the work.  Generally, this is not a bad idea, but not necessarily a great idea either.  It sort of depends.

 

 

My experience in companies that also have hardware parts associated with the software, each group selecting their tools comes at a great disadvantage when it comes to understanding the various work products as it moves through the organization.  It is not possible for one team to see what the other team has done, when the tools are not connected, or each group selects what that individual group needs without consideration of the departments that are depending or associated with the work.  In these cases, a product life cycle management tool that connects the various work departments and work packages can help tie all of these together. Consider a vehicle manufacturer that develops … Continue reading

Evolution of the Horseless Carriage

In preparation for our trip to Eindhoven University of Technology to lecture on Configuration Management, we provide a brief excerpt on the evolution of the horseless cariage.

Traditionally new market segments open due to the need to solve a problem. Such problems may be real as in the case of the environmental crisis solved by the automobile or the need may be concocted. New markets and products are rarely developed through the inspiration of a single individual. The automotive market came about through a synergy of the existing body of knowledge and other environmental conditions both in the marketplace and in the nature.

One topic of discussion at the world’s first international urban planning conference in 1898 was the growing health concerns due to horse excretions and the creatures that accompanied them. As the primary means of locomotion for wagons and other forms of transport, horse populations exceeded human population in cities.*

Manufacturers of “horseless carriages” using steam, electric, … Continue reading

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