Fireproof Your Business

Improvement Insights Blog

Fireproof Your Business

Spending too much time fighting fires in your business? Maybe it’s time to fireproof your business. Here’s how:

“Hi, this is Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma for Hospitals” and the QI Macros [software].

“My wife and I recently cruised Scandinavia, and in almost every city where the tour guides took us around they told us the same story: “So Oslo (Stockholm, Copenhagen, St. Petersburg) back in the 1700s, the city had built up but they were all built out of wood, and of course they heated everything with wood or coal or something, and…” You know: Boom. One house catches fire, they all catch fire, and guess what?

“They burned the Capitol to the ground in the 1700s, and then they tried to do it again in the 1800s. They rebuilt, and then it was made out of wood and then the King said, “Enough of this burning down the Capitol stuff” and they decreed that all buildings must be made of stone or brick or masonry of some sort. This is called mistake proofing. So how do we prevent fires? Well we build it out of stuff that doesn’t burn. Smart.

“But look around in your own company: what are the things that keep burning down every month or every week or every quarter or every whatever? Something keeps burning down and so your job is to go do some root cause analysis and mistake proof the things so that it can’t burn any more. Does this make sense? Your job is to look around for what’s on fire and put it out, and then figure out how to keep it from ever catching fire again.

“This is also true universally (as far as I can tell) in Six Sigma projects, because people go out and they do an improvement and they make the improvement and then they fail to put in a control system – they fail to put in control charts to monitor the process – and then six months later they say, “Oh, it went away.”

“That’s because you don’t have a system to make sure you’re tracking that and taking corrective action if it starts to go bad, right? So if we’ve got hospital infections way low and they start to climb back up again… Well, if you had a control chart in place you’d notice that infections were starting to climb before you’d notice it with your own five senses.

“With the QI Macros Control Chart Templates, it’s super easy to keep your charts up to date. With our templates or with our dashboards, you can track all your key performance indicators and tell: Are they stable? Are they going out of control one way or the other? Then you could take corrective action at the point of infraction. Once you’ve made an improvement you can sustain it, and then you can make more improvements and sustain those and so on.

“Now it only takes a little bit more rigor to be able to do a control chart and track all this stuff. With the templates, all you have to do is put a number in the next date: The next week or month or quarter or whatever it is – update the chart and bingo! Guess what? There’s your control system. Then you could just use the QI Macros to run stability analysis to see if it’s starting to go out of control. Duh!

“This is super easy, and yet everybody makes it too complicated. You don’t need to know formulas or decision trees or any of that stuff. Our Control Chart Template Wizard will take your data, pick the right template for you, and put the data in there and get you started. This is super easy, right? It’s so easy, I just don’t understand why nobody does it.

“So that’s my point for this month… this Insight video, right? If things are burning down, let’s do some root cause analysis, let’s mistake proof them, let’s put in a control system to monitor and make sure it stays that way. Things are starting fires somewhere… you know… we don’t want to see any smoke anywhere in the company. You can do it super easy.

“That’s my Improvement Insight for this week. Let’s create a hassle-free America; a hassle-free world. Let’s go out and improve something this week.”