No Design Survives Contact with the End User
Blog

No Design Survives Contact with the End User

No matter how well you design something using DFSS, users will find ways to use it or break it in ways you can’t imagine!

“In Six Sigma we have all these tools for designing for Six Sigma, so we have Quality Function Deployment and Failure Modes and Effects Analysis and all this other stuff; PPAP forms in automotive to help you design an entire sub-assembly or whatever it is… but what are these things designed to do?

“Well, they’re designed to help you come up with something that’ll come out at least a four signal level, maybe a four and a half signal level, but one of the things I’ve learned from software is “No design survives contact with the end user.” Somehow, they find ways to break stuff that you hadn’t even thought of, right? In my case, they find data that’s so wonky that it does something weird because it’s at the edges of things. So out of that you think, “Hmm, I didn’t prepare for that one,” but you get better at Failure Modes and Effects Analysis as you go along.

“So here’s the thing: All of the tools that are out there to help you design a great product will help you a lot. I just saw an article I think it was in ASQ’s Quality Progress magazine: the PPAP application reduced the number of defects by 40 percent in the final launched product. Now there’s still 60 percent left, but that’s another story… but that’s dramatic improvement. Wouldn’t you want that in something new that you’re building? Sure you would, all right?

“So this is the thing, though: it’s not going to survive contact with the end user. Have you seen all the various recalls on airbags and things like that? Guess what? You’re not going to survive contact with the end user.

“So that’s my Improvement Insight for this week: Design it as best you can, but prepare for whatever shows up at the end because it’s going to maybe be different than you could have imagined. Let’s create a hassle-free America; let’s create a hassle-free world. Go out and improve something this week.”