Saturday, January 27

Expert Error

I was happy to hear the little pitter-patter of raindrops falling on the roof this morning before dawn. Just a sprinkling, but enough to keep January from going into the record books a "The driest January ever." It won't lose any weathermen their jobs, but maybe some pay cuts are in order!

We all goof things up at work. The perfect employee has yet to be hired by any company we ever worked for. Enormous amounts of bottom line cash are lost every day due to this imperfection, and business spends millions of dollars trying to prevent it. Quality control, Process Improvement, Total Quality Management, The Deming Philosophy, and the ever-famous craze, ISO 9001 (2000 edition) are samples of a plethora of jargon-filled attempts to achieve the impossible: Eliminating human error.

I led a team of various department representatives in the early 90's that focused on improving our work ticket process. Too many errors were being made when the job was written up. We collected the data from 'process customers' in the shop; we analyzed the data; we identified the culprit areas; we brainstormed improving the process; then we implemented our suggested changes. A 24% error rate was reduced to about 2% to 4% within a short period of time. We were ecstatic; corporate was ecstatic; things were changing!

We enjoyed other process improvement team successes. We reported them to corporate. We got raises. Corporate started pushing for all facilities to become ISO compliant, starting with the largest in Seattle. That was over 10 years ago! We're still on the waiting list for completion here. Someone has been dropping the ball while dealing with the red numbers in the past few years.

Seriously, even with the certification, employees will do things the way they always have unless management is standing there with a clipboard in hand. If there aren't dire consequences for breaking the 'rules' people could care less. The idiot philosophy that everyone wants to do the best job they can is nonsense. Some employees just don't care if they make mistakes. And they certainly won't go the extra mile to communicate, help, and look out for one another.

And do you try to weed these people out? Now we're talking about management! And that's a totally different and unmentionable story.

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