Lessons from My First Dog Door

Improvement Insights Blog

Lessons from My First Dog Door

When I got my first dog, Tai, I had to let him in and out until I discovered dog doors. Here’s how that lesson applies to quality improvement:

“A few years after I got my first house, I got a dog. He was the cutest little mixed breed rescue. His name was Tai, and it was a fun time, but I realized that whenever that dog had to go out I had to open the door and let him out to the back yard. Then when he wanted to come back in, I had to open the door and let him back in.

“Now sometimes, again, it was cold and snowy; every time I opened that door, the cold came in and the dog came in, right? And then in the middle of the night, if the dog had to go out I had to get up and go out and open the door let the dog out… stay up and let the dog back in, right? Jeez, that was just… that was so annoying!

“But anyway, I thought, “There’s got to be a way around this,” and so, yes indeed: there are dog doors, right? I put in a dog door and after that Tai could let himself out, let himself back in any old time he wanted to, and I didn’t have to be involved in that at all.

“Now I know some of you work with teams and those teams make improvements, but you have to leave a tool behind for them to do the control charts to monitor the process. If you’re not doing the control phase of DMAIC you’ve wasted all that improvement time, trust me. So you have to leave a tool behind like QI Macros to help them draw those charts themselves when they need to, right? We had one guy in a manufacturing plant and he said “I gave my guys QI Macros and I told them ‘Open up this template and once an hour you take a measurement. Then you type that into here, hit return and run stability analysis. If any red points show up on your chart, you call me… you call me RIGHT AWAY!.’ Right?

“So what are we doing? We’re getting people to do the stuff that they need to do so you can continue doing improvements. Don’t be a chart monkey; don’t be the person who has to draw all the charts because then you’re out of the improvement business and you’re into the charting business.

“I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma Demystified”, “Lean Six Sigma For Hospitals” and QI Macros [software]. That’s my Improvement Insight for this week: Give people the tools they need so they can do it themselves; Tom Sawyer these people!

“So that’s my Improvement Insight. Let’s go out and improve something this week.”

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