One of the fundamental concepts of lean is Quality at the Source (QAS). Typically, lean practitioners discuss QAS from the aspects of error proofing and not passing on defects. These QAS concepts apply equally well to manufacturing, service, and business processes.
Often overlooked is the concept of proactive quality design. Everyone knows we need to make good products, but our activities tend to be reactive, responding to problems after they occur. I would like to remind folks about the proactive approach to quality by offering the following guideline:
Developing a Proactive Quality Process
Although a problem solving culture is essential for success, excellent quality is a result of a proactive approach that prevents problems before they occur. Starting with the features that are critical to quality, the team members will then identify where each of the CTQ’s is created in the process, working proactively to implement robust processes that reduce the risk for defects. Once these CTP’s are identified, continuous improvement becomes easier because the process is more stable.
If you are struggling with recurring quality issues or intermittent failures, go back and follow this approach for proactive quality. You may find that minor instabilities have entered your process through non-standard work, product & equipment modifications, or deterioration. Using this model will help you get back on track and find those nagging quality issues.
D. Hicks 4/2/15