I wanted to mention the following piece from Davis Balestracci Jr. who had led us through the Data Sanity program at our Spring Conference, because as I continue to read through his outstanding work, I am inspired by the collection of information he has assembled in his book, Data Sanity, A Quantum Leap to Unprecedented Results. (If you have not read his book, then by all means, you should, as it is what every Quality Professional must have in their required reading).
Right out of the gate, in chapter 1, exhibit 1.1 on page 3 he has identified what he calls the “universal” process flowchart. If you haven’t seen it and want to, let me know and I will scan and email the page. My point is however, I think most all of us can relate to this true process map. He (like me) continues to emphasize that every quality issue is related to a process problem. The book defines it in detail, but in the beginning he outlines the chaos that is true of most processes. He then discusses the naked truth, that traditional statistics courses actually deny this existence, making application of the usual techniques (called enumerative statistics) incorrect. He goes on to point out that what quality improvement really needs are statistical techniques that allow for this variation by exposing it, then measuring the effects of interventions to reduce this inappropriate and unintended variation, with the ultimate goal becoming consistent prediction.
Although that statement, consistent prediction, is not as “sexy” as variation reduction, it speaks to the black & white truth of the reality of most processes. A process map is necessary and sometimes interesting, but are we truly documenting the actual process when we create a process map, or are we drawing a picture of what we believe someone else has designed as the process, so that those in higher places are not offended by the actual chaos that is the reality of the process?
The quote, by Donald Berwick, MD, president and chief executive officer of IHI and stated throughout his work claims “Each system (process) is perfectly designed to get the results it is already getting”. There is several great quotes from other quality champions identified in his work, for example Jim Clemmer from “Firing on all Cylinders” who speaks of the 85/15 rule which claims that 85% of all work problems are controlled by the processes and only approximately 15% are caused by direct involvement of people working in the process, yet we tend to lay “blame” on the person responsible. There are many more great works that he references as well, but the bottom line is identified in the summary of that first chapter. All work is a process.
This leads me back to where I started, which was to lay “blame” on our successful program year (I’m kidding of course). The position descriptions we have identified continue to evolve within our section management process documentation. Our long term goal as the Leadership Team of the section is to make the jobs we are doing today, not only easier for the future chair holders, but to make the job interesting and fun. We are working on our own processes within our team, nobody gets blamed for issues, but everyone is, and should be, praised for their efforts.
I look forward to seeing you all at the upcoming planned events for your section. Have a great summer, be safe, have fun and keep fighting the good fight. Keep the Q in all you do!
ASQ Section 1206 Chair