We’re in football season, and I’m partial to some good NCAA ball on a fall Saturday with a tailgate. In a game of football, there’s going to be a top team by numbers. There’s also that team that wins the hearts and minds of its fans. In the game of football, it’s not so clear. With the National Playoff series and the final National Championship game structure, there is subjectivity in the top teams. They do not track to a straight points strategy. They ask questions like: difficulty of schedule, strength of conference, points spread, that one bad week, and history.
I’ll give in that it is difficult to measure teams completely objectively. Each one has its challenges. There are changes in staff to think about – a new coach or coaching staff will change things up for the team and it might be more difficult for them to perform. There’s weather – who’s struggling with heat or cold? Facilities. Can a team perform at a higher level given better facilities and, at a national level, could a team that doesn’t have those play up? Replacing top players who have graduated or gone to the draft, especially a quarterback, receiver or center can change the game dramatically. And the team.
Similarly, in manufacturing, you can provide your team with the best supervisors, equipment, and “plays” (strategy / process), but without everything coming together seamlessly, even the best teams can struggle. And everyone has an off week.
On the field, you know the endgame. Get the pig skin into the end zone – on the run, via a pass, or by a kick. There’s no other way to get points unless you sack their quarterback down on the other end. How you score is well-defined. There’s instant replay for those times you need a second set of eyes on something.
Those eyes in football are the eyes of the officials. Have you ever watched them watch the game? If you’re concentrating on the action on the field, you will often miss those men and women in black and white. They are quiet observers. They move with the plays. They’re watching every movement on the field, on the ball and even on the other side.
Who do you have in your Production Operations that is watching like that? Who is measuring that your team members are staying inside the (guide)lines you’ve drawn and that everyone’s playing by the rules? Who’s guiding the team as they begin work, with all the changing circumstances that are a day in the life of a manufacturing team? Just as in the game of football, your team needs someone who can monitor and decide what the next steps are for every job on the shop floor.
Whether you’re talking Quality Control or, more generally, about Production Control, you have a set of guidelines – safety and quality checks – that you want your team to stive for, live by, and measure. These are the guardrails that you’ve established for how they can do their work safely, effectively, and profitably for you. (I certainly hope you’ve done this. Write them down. Keep them in front of your workers – even the most experienced.) These should not be static. Things change. Your parameters should, too.
Each year, the National Football Foundation (NFF) and the College Football Officiating (CFO) organizations team up to look at the rules. They’re looking for things to make the game safer for the players and fairer for the teams. You should, too. The only way to keep quality high is to keep looking at it. Review it regularly and make changes to account for changes you’re making in your business.
SOFTWARE FOR QUALITY MANAGEMENT
Keeping score is part of the game of football, for certain. And you do the same for your business. We all do. Performance is usually stated in the general ledger – revenue, income, expense. But that is a rear-view mirror approach to keeping score. It’s certainly what’s on the big board, but is that going to predetermine the outcome of the game? This is, perhaps, where I think the greatest lesson can be learned. Teams that don’t give up in the 4th quarter can change the game at any point. I’ve written about confirmation bias before (it’s everywhere), and teams that aren’t swayed by it, run all the way through to that last minute on the clock. (Thank God the Buckeyes did this last weekend, because THAT was a great play.)
No sport looks at the scoreboard to tell you the final outcome of the game until the game is final. During the rest of the game, all eyes are on the field, where the action is. So why do we concentrate so hard on the score for our companies? Shouldn’t we have eyes on the work in front of us rather than what’s passed? I’ll talk more about what kinds of things you should be looking for next week.
These are the very challenges that we see shops deal with every day. Give your team the tools they need to track your numbers, report on them, analyze and archive them. Push the Connect button to learn about how we help teams with this. Or, if you have a question, reach out to email@example.com. We are here to help you save money, time and get your Production under Control.
Contact CIMx Software to see how a Manufacturing Execution System can improve production control for you.