Implementing Zero Defects in a Modern Organization
Despite the conflicting opinions surrounding zero defects, there is still a lot of merit to the ideas behind it, and it’s worth paying attention to what it stands for. A modern organization can benefit a lot from implementing zero defects on even a partial level, and we’ve seen some interesting developments recently that seem to keep the initiative moving forward.
With proper planning beforehand, there are some productive ways to apply more control to the way things work.
Important considerations to make before getting started
An organization’s leadership must be aware of the fact that zero defects will bring significant changes to the way the company works. All workers will have to readjust their attitude towards their job, and this also applies to higher-level executives.
In an improperly applied zero defects structure, the lower-level workers are actually those that feel the effects the most. It’s important to take a look at things from their perspective, and make sure that the changes aren’t too much for them, or implemented too quickly.
Communicating with every entity of the organization properly is therefore a critical step in ensuring that zero defects is applied correctly. The organization must listen to feedback from its workers very carefully, and steer their decisions accordingly.
Restructuring the organization correctly
Often, new departments have to be created to accommodate the extra work that will be required by zero defects. A quality management department is one of the first steps to consider. It doesn’t have to be a large team, depending on the complexity of the work done by the organization, but it should at least cover all stages of the production.
Error detection must also propagate down to the low levels of the production chain. Self-testing should be implemented as much as possible, and teams should additionally cross-check each other’s work on a regular basis, often called successive checks.
In addition, extra monitoring is often necessary for implementing zero defects. Knowing whether zero defects is actually working or not relies a lot on having the right feedback on what’s currently going on.
This means that every step of the production process should be carefully evaluated. This is partly to ensure the quality of the output, and partly to observe how the implementation of zero defects has affected the company.
One key tool for reducing the chance of a defect is a Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA). By reviewing each process, and evaluating the severity, probability of occurrence, and detectability, you can make great strides towards zero defects.
It is also important to define what zero defects means to the organization, then monitor progress, to see if the program is having success.
How to deal with an error?
So what does an organization that implements zero defects do when an actual error arises? Ensuring that this doesn’t put a spike through the wheels of the whole production chain is critical. It’s important to have a system in place that can quickly determine the root cause of the error. Is it a one-time problem caused by a mistake, or does it come from deeper within the system (and therefore indicates a major issue)?
Mistake proofing (poka yoke) is a key concept to implement on every defect if you want to achieve a zero defect mindset (and have a large reduction in total defects).
One problem with the default implementation of zero defects is that it assigns equal weight to all possible errors that can occur during the work of an organization. This is clearly not the right way to handle mistakes though, as experience has shown us that not all defects are created equal.
Communicating with customers is very important here. If the customer doesn’t provide the right level of detail, then it’s difficult to solve certain defects.
Zero defects is seeing a lot of attention lately, and the ideas behind it are still applicable today. The brief initial spike in the concept’s popularity made it clear that there is a strong potential behind it, and there are still organizations working towards this goal. But we must also make some changes to the way we treat errors in order to implement zero defects in a modern organization correctly.
As we said above, measuring the current productivity of the company, and the way results change after the implementation of zero defects is one of the most critical steps in ensuring that the process works correctly. In addition, an organization may never achieve zero defects, but the process of trying to accomplish it is the most important thing.