Don't Do It Yourself

Improvement Insights Blog

Don’t Do It Yourself

Ever had the urge to develop your own Excel templates for quality? It’s a waste of time. Here’s why:

“I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma for Hospitals” and QI Macros [software].

“You may not know this, but I played rock guitar and lead guitar in bands back in high school and college. That kind of went away, but I still play a little bit.

“Way back when, I was a kid. I was on a newspaper route. I didn’t have a lot of money and I needed an amplifier. Well, amplifiers were expensive, and back then there was a company called Heathkit that made kits where you could actually buy the kit and put the amplifier together yourself. You just had to solder some components together and everything else, but it was a lot cheaper – maybe a third of the cost of buying a real amplifier.

“What I did was I went out and bought this kit and spent my evenings soldering stuff and mounting the speakers into the cabinets and all that kind of stuff. When I was done I flicked it on, and yes I could play… but after a certain period of time it would kind of go wonky. I think I had a cold solder joint or something in there that was causing it problems. I never did figure that out. Eventually, I gave that away or did something and I had to go out and buy a real amplifier, which I did: a Fender Twin Reverb. I still have it.

“So one of the things that I see though in Quality Improvement is there are people out there who know Excel, and so they build their own control chart templates and whatever it is. Then they say, “Well, I’m just going to do it myself.”

“I’m telling you, doing it yourself has problems. You don’t know if you got the right formulas, you don’t know it’ll calculate right, you don’t have anybody to maintain it and it’s just messy. I don’t think you realize how much it cost for you to waste your time trying to learn how to do this stuff yourself when I’ve spent the last 30 years doing it, all right?

“I’d like you to consider that sometimes doing it yourself ain’t a good idea. I let plumbers fix my pipes, I let AC and HVAC people fix my furnace and my air conditioning, I let other people fix my roof because I shouldn’t be up there walking around on a roof. Not my job.

“So go out and spend some money; buy some software. Don’t be one of those people who’s still using line, bar and pie charts. Don’t use the Three Stooges of charts. Grow up! Matriculate. Step into the world of control charts, Pareto charts, histograms, fishbone [diagrams] and so on. It’ll make you a lot faster and be a lot cheaper.

“That’s my Improvement Insight for this week. Let’s go out and improve something… especially your tools for Quality.”

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