Bytes and pieces: News you can use

Recalls: January consumer product recalls ranged from bodysuits to bikes and hoverboards. Safety is a primary concern, though product quality is called into question as well. Check on recalled products.

Conference in southwest: ASQ’s annual two-day Lean and Six Sigma Conference will open in Phoenix on February 29. Registration is open now for the event.

Healthcare conference: It’s not too early to register for the May 11-12 National Quality Summit, sponsored by the National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ).

Quality management: This document from ISO outlines eight principles of quality management that are listed in ISO 9000:2005, Quality management systems – Fundamentals and vocabulary.

Gleaning wheat from chaff: What does this variation mean?

Question: Can one make too much of variation in a process? The answer: It depends.

Chicken Little, reacting to an acorn falling from a tree, spread the alarm: “The sky is falling!” This kind of over-reaction is highly recognizable. What about the panicked investor whose stocks go down by a percentage point one day, who wants to sell everything and get out of the market? Or the teacher whose classroom seems cold, turning the pre-set thermostat way up (and then later, when the room seems too warm, turning it way down)? Or a sales manager who calls the team together to bemoan “disastrous trends” after a week’s drop in sales revenues?

While these may all patently represent over-reaction, they are recognizable behaviors—perhaps even in our own responses to changing situations. Panic can easily set in without understanding the meaning of this kind of variation. Known as common cause variation, it represents natural movement in data points in any process. One needs to know whether the sky is really falling, or if seed cycles of oak trees are predictable and stable.

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Quality quiz (February 2016): A classic quiz from Professor Cleary—and January’s quiz winners!

Mike ClearyWinners of last month’s quiz and a copy of Practical Tools for Continuous Improvement: Volume 1 are Terry Henson (Wabash Plastics, Evansville, IN); Michael Moon (Heizer Aerospace, Pevely, MO); and Jane Martel (Arapahoe Library District, Englewood, CO). Congratulations! For this month’s quiz, and a chance to win a copy of Practical Tools for Continuous Improvement: Volume 1, submit your response by February 29.

To celebrate the life and work of Professor Cleary, we are featuring a classic quiz from our archives.

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Quality quiz (January 2016): A classic quiz from Professor Cleary—and December’s quiz winners!

Mike ClearyWinners of last month’s quiz and a copy of Practical Tools for Continuous Improvement: Volume 1 are Betty Houser (Amerigroup, Nashville, TN): Dave Gibson (Sub-Zero Group, Madison, WI); and Jared Spalding (UNISEAL, Evansville, IN). Congratulations! For this month’s quiz, and a chance to win a copy of Practical Tools for Continuous Improvement: Volume 1, submit your response by January 30.

To celebrate the life and work of Professor Cleary, we are featuring a classic quiz from our archives.

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Proving quality: Tools that shape information

To quality professionals, the challenge “So prove it!” is far more than a school yard taunt, since their organizations must continually demonstrate to customers, board members, suppliers, associations, regulatory bodies, and others that their products or services indeed meet the quality standards that they espouse.

So how does an organization—even one that is following strict standards for its products—manage to show that it is indeed doing so? In an age when every advertisement and TV commercial touts product quality, the word has lost its meaning to many. Nonetheless, being able to demonstrate the meaning of quality in products and services is not only important, but often required.

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