Posts Tagged ‘stagnation’

So you think you are educated…

by Himanshu Jhamb on November 27, 2009

educationWhile I was growing up, I was told that the meaning of education is going through the motions of schooling followed by a professional collegial degree. For about 80% of my life, I held onto that as the truth. It took a lot of stagnation in my career and also the mundane routine of doing the same thing day-in and day-out to shake me out of my tranquility. There is a saying about teachers – “Teacher shows up when the Student is ready”. I was ready… and my teachers showed up. Over the next 3-4 years I surrounded myself with teachers and learned what it really means to be educated.

Here is what I learnt:

  1. Education is not only about gaining the knowledge of something as in memorizing facts or formula, it is also about knowing when to apply what to produce situations that you want for your future.
  2. Education is about learning new distinctions that give you the power of noticing what has gone unnoticed so far… and is perhaps even (without your knowledge) running you or your life.
  3. Going through the motions of school and college is a part of education as it makes you minimally viable in the marketplace – but that’s not where it should stop. Learning, like living life, is a continuous process.
  4. Education is not just about knowing … it is, in fact, more about doing.

The last point is beautifully depicted in a story about Henry Ford, in the book The magic ladder to Success by Napolean Hill. The story goes something like this:

During World War II, Henry Ford brought a suit against one of the national newspapers for calling him Ignorant. The lawyers of the newspaper asked Ford a number of questions for quite some time in front of the jury at the trial trying to prove that Ford was, indeed, ignorant. One of the questions asked was “How many soldiers were sent by the British in the war of 1776?” Ford’s response was “I don’t know how many were sent but I have heard that it was a lot more than ever went back”. Ford continued to play with them zestfully, often responding with such witty answers to more of these testy questions… until a point when he grew really frustrated with a rather insulting question. He said “If I should really wish to answer the foolish question you have just asked or have been asking let me remind you that I have a row of buttons hanging over my desk. By pressing the right button, I could call in any number of people who would give me the correct answer to all the questions you have asked and to many that you have not the intelligence to either ask or answer. Now, will you kindly tell me why I should bother about filling my mind with useless information in order to answer all foolish questions you have to ask, when I have able people around me whom I can call on, if I really need the answers to these questions?”

Henry Ford had little elementary schooling, but, clearly he was one of the most educated men in his times. He probably did not have a lot of knowledge but he more than compensated for the lack of it, in his application and doing… The fact that he is a legend, now, is proof enough for that.

If you are at a point where you feel stuck or stagnated in your career, perhaps a place to look would be your “knowledge gap” and be careful with how you read what I just wrote – I use the word knowledge in the context of doing, now knowing.

Quality #10: Inspection can be a waste if…

by Tanmay Vora on November 20, 2009

Quality InspectionWelcome to the tenth post in this 12-part series on QUALITY, titled #QUALITYtweet – 12 Ideas to Build a Quality Culture.

Here are the first nine posts, in case you would like to go back and take a look:

  1. Quality #1: Quality is a long term differentiator
  2. Quality #2: Cure Precedes Prevention
  3. Quality #3: Great People + Good Processes = Great Quality
  4. Quality #4: Simplifying Processes
  5. Quality #5: Customers are your “Quality Partners”
  6. Quality #6: Knowing what needs improvement
  7. Quality #7: Productivity and Quality
  8. Quality #8: Best Practices are Contextual
  9. Quality #9: Quality of Relationship and Communication

#QUALITYtweet Formal inspections can be a

huge waste of resources if you have not invested

in getting it right the first time

The goal of any process improvement initiative is to prevent same problems from occurring again. New problems are an opportunity to identify areas of improvement but same problems occurring repetitively is a sign of stagnation.

As someone rightly said, “Quality can never be inspected in a product; it has to be built first.” Processes have to help identify the quality expectations from the customers and translate those expectations into a practical action plan to build/verify quality constantly.

Inspections done at the tail end of product life cycle can eat a huge chunk of your budget because later the problems are found, costlier the resolutions. On top of that, if you have not “engineered” quality in a product, inspections can be a huge waste. You can never verify something you have not built upfront.

In manufacturing world, it is very unlikely to find that a component is inspected after it is integrated in the product. The very idea of inspecting everything after completing all product development is a dangerous one – one that has many business and financial risks associated with it.

This is where “prevention” is always better than “cure”.

Don’t get me wrong. Inspections are still one of the best ways to find problems. The timing of inspection is very important.

When inspections are done earlier in development process:

  • Fixing problems is less costly
  • Early identification of critical risks helps you manage them proactively
  • Lower risk of failure at the end

Following are some very simplified guidelines on how inspection activity can be leveraged to generate value and lower risks for your customers. Each one of these points can be a process in itself.

  • Know customer’s quality expectations early and educate team
  • Clarify the exact customer requirements (and be ready for change)
  • Give thoughtful consideration to a robust product design
  • Plan actions to ascertain that quality expectations are built in the product
  • Inspect Early and Inspect Often in cycles
  • Each cycle of early inspection reduces risk of failure
  • With this, final cycles of inspection can focus on “value-delivered-to-customer” rather than “defects-found-at-the-tail-end”.

The process of inspection can be your biggest asset if you have invested early efforts in building quality and then inspecting it. Else, it can be a huge waste.  Reduce this waste and you will automatically start forming a culture where “building quality” always takes precedence over inspecting. Your journey towards a quality-oriented culture begins there