Not Everyone Loves Quality Improvement

Not Everyone Likes Quality Improvement

There are a number of fears that make people hesitant to share data and or let you make improvements. Here’s why.


“Not everybody is in love with this whole idea of improvement. There are people who, when you come to them and say, “I need your data about such-and-such,” they don’t want you looking at their data because they don’t want to look stupid. If they’re the manager of that organization and they’ve had all this data and they can’t find what I call the “invisible low-hanging fruit,” they think that they’re stupid or something. No, they just don’t know how to analyze the data.

“To some degree, you’re going to have to be a little bit loving and tender with them because not everybody wants to make improvements. And the people who are running those big “fix-it factories” – when I was in the phone company, we had thousands and thousands of people working outside fixing things that were broken. Well, guess what? If I said, “Hey, let’s figure out how we can mistake-proof that so you don’t need all these repair people,” those people would not be happy with me, because what if I cut their work orders by 50%, 70%, 90%? What would they do? What would be the meaning of their existence on the planet? Well, you get to do something more interesting, that’s what it would be. We had 2,000 people correcting billing errors every day. What if we could eliminate all of that? Get it down to 100 or 200 people maximum doing any of that kind of work… what would that do to that “fix-it factory” and to the manager and the whole chain of command that their whole job is fixing stuff? The “fix-it factory” does not want you to make improvements because that means we’re going to lose jobs, we’re going to cut costs, blah blah blah blah blah … which is not true – what happens is everybody says, “Oh, that’s a really nice product. I should tell everybody else about it.”

“So don’t pretend that [everybody] wants you to make these improvements. There are those people who do want that, and those people are lovely to work with, but the others… they may have other reasons not to want you involved.

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