It’s a situation I’ve encountered many, many times in my career – a manager or colleague requesting a project be completed or task finished without me knowing enough about how to complete it successfully. It could be product assembly, writing a report, anything.
Many times the directive is “do it” and when I ask “How?” the response is often times “I don’t care, just get it done.”
Fortunately, more often than not I’ve managed to complete the requests successfully but there still remain many situations where the results were not what the requester expected. In those cases, either the failure was irreparable or time and resources were used to fix the problem.
Obviously I’m not alone – this happens to everyone, and not just at work but also at home with family and friends and in all organizations.
Doing it right the first time not only prevents irreparable failures and wasted resources, but also drives success and builds trust, respect, and dependability between colleagues. Doing a good job means doing a high quality job.
So how can we make sure we provide the proper results or receive them as often as possible and confirm we (or the suppliers) have done a good job?
Make it clear what a good job looks like.
So how can the picture of success be communicated?
– Defining of customer requirements
If a customer (anyone on the receiving end of a process’s results) has not properly explained their expectations, ask questions and define what the proper or ideal result will look like. This includes timing, condition, specifications, measurements, color, shape, who, what, when, where, why, how, how much, etc.
Answering those little questions is a very rudimentary way to define the ideal result. More high-level tools commonly used in Six Sigma for collecting and prioritizing customer requirements include Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) and Quality Function Deployment (QFD). However, for common day-to-day projects and reports, that level of detail is not necessary.
– Visual controls, pictures, and work instructions
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures, drawings, images, and diagrams can help communicate ideal designs, changes, and expectations quickly when a slew of words won’t suffice.
As a manager or customer, it’s so easy to simply make a request and not take the time to define the results, and expect results to be ideal. It’s also very easy to imply what should result and not specify, because specifying takes time. However, as another saying (sort of) goes, if you don’t have the time to show someone how to do it right where will you find the time to have them do it over?
More information for QFD from the American Society for Quality