While I have been raising my kids and teaching them about life, they have been teaching me about how to be better at my job.
Recently, I tried to explain to my children what I do for a living. “Just like Daddy helps you put together your blocks to build things, my job is to help others be better at making their things.”
Like any good relationship, they’ve taught me as much as I’ve taught them. Here are 5 lessons my kids have taught me about quality assurance.
1. Playing is learning.
Somewhere along the way, people stop playing. My children remind me, just as it’s important for them to have playtime, it’s important for me to play as well. At an ice cream manufacturing facility in which I helped to deploy an SPC software package, the employees created cute names and pictures for trends and out of control conditions. Instead of being “Out of Spec”, they were “Chunkifying the Chunky” or “Melting the Polar Bears”.
From this, a whole new fun language was born and employees started asking questions that led to the discovery of new solutions. Make “playtime” a part of the job!
2. Be the hero.
When my children tell me a story about school or the playground, they are usually the heroes. As we age, we don’t want to appear conceited or egotistical, so we downplay our accomplishments and achievements. Eventually, if we’re not careful, we can convince ourselves of our own mediocrity.
In Quality Assurance, I look for heroes. I love to hear stories about how a line operator’s suggestion saved the company tens of thousands of dollars. Put out a Quality “Suggestion Box” and cultivate a work force of heroes! Remind people that it’s ok to brag about their accomplishments.
3. Listen twice!
As my children began to speak and form sentences, I had to listen closely to understand them. I remember a time when my 2-year-old son and I were coloring together and he started pointing at a bunch of bananas on our counter and repeating the words “nana, nana, nana”.
At first I thought he was just bragging (being the hero) that he knew the word for banana. But then I came to the conclusion that he must be hungry because he kept repeating “nana” and wouldn’t stop, so I cut up a piece for him.
He started crying until I figured out he really wanted a “yellow crayon” and we didn’t have one. I simply wasn’t paying attention to his coloring!
While implementing Quality programs, the simplest of words can mean different things to different people. The word “part” might represent the product you make, a sub-assembly or a group of characters in a UPC code.
I have been involved with Quality implementations where each of those was true. But by carefully listening to the people I was working with, I could understand the context in which they were using the word and successfully communicate program goals. Listening is key!
4. Keep it simple.
You may have a similar story: I recently bought a toy for my 2-year old that had all kinds of lights, pulleys, zippers, blocks and other contraptions. To me, it was an engineering marvel, but my child quickly became confused and lost interest.
The same is true when implementing SPC solutions.
There are so many systems that have all the latest charts and statistics. But all you really need to have a successful Quality program are XBar & R, X & MR, Histograms, Paretos and Cpk. Start with the basics and then add more as your company matures. Start with the box!
5. Try new things.
My children are not afraid to play a new game. They will slide down a water slide, go down a zip line or camp in the woods even if they haven’t done it before. As adults, we tend to fear the unknown, rarely venturing out of our comfort zones.
As Quality professionals, we must always seek out improvement. Our job is to look for new things to make our processes better.
The ice cream making factory that I mentioned earlier would, once a month, hold a contest to see who could come up with the wildest recipe for a batch of ice cream. And then they would make it! Some flavors required reinventing the process flow.
Don’t be afraid to make new flavors of ice cream!
I have learned a lot from my kids and know that following these 5 lessons brings great rewards. Whatever job or responsibility you have with your company, try to remember to play, boast, listen, simplify, and explore! Your life will be better for it! Trust me!
About DataNet Quality Systems
DataNet Quality Systems empowers manufacturers to improve products, processes, and profitability through real-time statistical software solutions. The company’s vision is to deliver trusted and capable technology solutions that allow manufacturers to create the highest quality product for the lowest possible cost. DataNet’s flagship product, WinSPC, provides statistical decision-making at the point of production and delivers real-time, actionable information to where it is needed most. With over 2500 customers worldwide and distributors across the globe, DataNet is dedicated to delivering a high level of customer service and support, shop-floor expertise, and training in the areas of Continuous Improvement, Six Sigma, and Lean Manufacturing services.