Management By Control Chart
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Management By Control Chart

My career was dipped in various management methods such as MBO and MBWA. Recently I read a new term: Management by Spreadsheet (MBS). Maybe there’s a better way.

“When I was working at the phone company we had a variety of management fads. I think first there was MBO, or “Management By Objectives.” Of course, that assumed that you know what your objectives were. We had MBWA, “Management By Wandering Around,” so the management team was wandering around all the time and just getting in our way. Recently I saw a different phraseology and I kind of liked it: MBS, which stands for “Management By Spreadsheet.”

“You know, if you think about it, there’s very few people who can actually read a spreadsheet and get intelligence out of it. There are people that are specialized – they can do that – but sometimes the spreadsheet is just a snapshot in time, so it’s this month’s sales or whatever the heck it is. What happens is it causes short-term thinking; it causes us to narrow our attention to some cell in there and say, “Hey, that thing’s wrong.” Then we have to go run around and do a bunch of jumping jacks or whatever.

“Almost as bad is “Management By Line Charts.” You’ll see line charts and sometimes they put a little spreadsheet of the data table underneath it so you have not only a line chart but a spreadsheet… and oh my gosh, and then they put a trendline on it to show that sales are going up or sales are going down or something like that and it becomes a spaghetti chart, if you will.

“So one of the things I’d like you to think about: This is not the way to go forward in terms of managing things. Let’s put together some control charts that tell us if things are in control or out of control. Is there a place where we need to take action? Is there a place where we need to ignore it? Do we want to reduce the defects? Do we want to increase the profits? Maybe by reducing defects we can increase the profits… but I think you want to start thinking about “How can I start to use control charts to manage the world?”

“Management By Control Chart – wouldn’t that be an outrageous idea?

“That’s my Improvement Insight for this week. I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma Demystified” and the QI Macros [software]. Let’s create a hassle-free America; let’s create a hassle-free world. Let’s go out and improve something this week.”