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Management Side
Week of 22 October 2018: Using quality to manage your business

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I have used the phrase, "Spinnin' the Invoice Printer" for years, to the point that many have identified me with it and bring it up when they see me. Good. If I have done nothing else, getting folks focused on the most important activity in their business, no matter what their business is, I have provided a service to all.

"Spinnin' the Invoice Printer" is necessarily short, pithy and makes a whole lot of assumptions. One of those assumptions is that you have your act together well enough that you are producing a quality product or service. You can certainly ship goods that are not first quality, but you will be found out, minimally have to redo or reproduce those goods, and, in extremis, lose a customer.

There is an old phrase, "We don't have time to do it right, but we have time to do it over!" So true. When you produce off-spec goods you will break into production to remake the order so you don't lose the customer. The losses are incalculable.

Examining why you make poor quality goods or deliver poor quality services is instructive and a good place to start to buff up the overall management of your organization.

Why did you produce poor quality goods? There are only three or four key high-level metrics that need to be examined out the gate. Are the raw materials up to spec? Do we have any equipment in our process that is not working as specified? Are our employees trained to do their jobs properly? And, finally, are there any perturbations in our energy sources that cause variations in our production systems?


Join us in Guatemala next summer for the 3rd Paperitalo Papermakers' Mission Trip [12.06.18]


That's it--start here. You might think there is another question--are we producing our goods to meet specifications? Don't need to ask that one, because your customers are already answering it for you--they are either keeping the product you ship them or throwing it back in your face.

Now, the four high level questions I asked above can lead to a myriad of other questions, hard questions. These questions can involve making decisions regarding your suppliers, maintenance, capital expenditures, training, replacing employees and on and on. But the place to start once you get the idea that your job is "Spinnin' the Invoice Printer" is with these four questions.

Notice it is a top down activity. Some attempt to make it a bottom up activity--that is a losing strategy. One can become mired down in the minutiae of one corner of their business and miss the entire focus of where to concentrate their efforts to be successful.

Sometimes the problems are really simple, if only someone would just manage properly. Within the last month I have been involved with two organizations whose responsibilities are accounting and reporting the results of that accounting to others (in one case a government regulatory entity). These organizations have miserably failed in their duties. One is in such a position that they cannot be fired; the other is and is in the process of being fired.

Sloppy quality has consequences. I worry every day about our own quality, for we produce intangibles, hence the measurement of our quality is necessarily nebulous. That is no excuse, however, and we must keep after it all the time, checking each other, checking our checking. You would be wise to do the same.

We spend a lot of time training our first responders, because we do not tolerate any lack of quality there. Think about transferring that attitude to the rest of your facility.

Be safe and we will talk next week.


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