iSixSigma

Customer?

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  • #46781

    J Sweere
    Participant

    Hello,
    I’m doing a safety improvement project. This project was asked for by the process owner. It is his stake to make the proces safer (according to him he’s the customer).
    The proces: Manufacturing machine => removing semi finished product from machine => stock => next productuion machine
    The safety issue is in the part of removing the product from the machine to make the removal, currently done with a forklift, safer.
    Who’s my customer? I can’t figure it out, is the next proces my customer or is the business my custormer or is the proces owner my customer?
    Does anyone have an idea?
    Thanks! Jasper

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    #155025

    Emilio
    Participant

    First let me say a banality : You are looking for process customer  and not for your client.
     
    If people safety is the issue :  People who removing product  and process owner (due his responsibility).
     
    Emilio C.

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    #155026

    J Sweere
    Participant

    Ah, that helps.
    Whitin a SIPOC analyse, should i only use these two groups in my customer part? because for this safety project both parties are also suppliers.
    My procesowner gives oppurtunities to improve safety. And the employees (removing the product) are also suppliers of delivering safe work or am i missing the point?
     

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    #155028

    Six Sigma Shooter
    Member

    Jasper,
    I tend to view this in pretty simplistic terms.  The customers are the people who work the process and put their safety at risk by using an unsafe process.  The suppliers for the process are the company and its management who control the process and that are responsible for providing a safe wrok environment for the process workers.  If the manager wants to say he’s a customer, okay fine, but his/her major role is the one of the supplier, in my opinion.  It’s his/her job to ensure a safe workplace.
    Shooter

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    #155032

    BritW
    Participant

    There is no problem having entities in both the customer and supplier columns of a SIPOC.  The workers are the ones who could be hurt and they are also one of the suppliers to the process.  Whomever you place on the list, just be sure to qulaify why they are there (customer or supplier).

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    #155036

    J Sweere
    Participant

    Is it also true that i can call the proces ‘safety’ and make a SIPOC for that proces?
    It seems a little unreal to leave out the total production with all its suppliers, but perhaps it is a must to leave out all the production relative inputs to clarify the problems. Or should i put them in the same SIPOC in different levels/chapters?

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    #155038

    BritW
    Participant

    I would title it exactly how you are looking at it – something like “Process Safety for the Loading/Unloading of the XYZ Machine”
    The SIPOC is first a brainstorming tool.  So leave no one out at the beginning.  I have found it better to work from the inside out when doing a SIPOC – develop your high level process first, then insert suppliers and customers.  Once you have exhausted your list, the team can remove customers and suppliers that do not have a direct effect on the safety issue – i.e., your project.
    In relation to your manager – I would not characterize him as a customer.  On the other hand, I would classify the company as one (as well as being a supplier).  From a customer perspective, the company has a stake in safety from a liability and morale standpoint.  The manager couls be a supplier in one who develops/oversees/approves safety policy.

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    #155040

    J Sweere
    Participant

    Thank you so much, this realy helps me…
    you know, i’m just a trainee and completed my greenbelt course in a different company. This company doesn’t use six sigma, so i want to use the tools and explain them. Not so much as using them from the six sigma policy.. It’s interesting how the people react to my point of view and my approach. Espacially now i can determine who the customers and suppliers are.. this works.
    Grtz. Jasper
     

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    #155041

    Emilio
    Participant

    Sweere,
    other two cents : be sure  you have consistent definitions of  : scope, problem, goal statements and … (business case?).
    Understand who are customers should rise enough from there.
    Tray to gather CTQs from who are definitely a customer … brainstorming on / organizing  CTQs could suggest you to go back and consider other customer (or  suppliers) skipped early.
     
    Have a nice weekend,
     
    Emilio C

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    #155043

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    SSS,
    Normally I don’t disagree with much of what you post but in this case I do. The Process Owner is always a customer. As the name states they own the process and therefore control the resources and will also determine the level of success that you have with implementing the solution. Because they are a customer doesn’t mean you need to have an obsequious relationship.
    If you ever want a deployment to develop a “pull” type relationship with the business they the Process Owners have to become the customer because they will be doing the pulling and if they are going to pull they you have to satisfy them the same as you do anyother customer.
    The most immediate customer is as you said the people who work in the operation.
    Just my opinion.
    Regards

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    #155046

    Six Sigma Shooter
    Member

    Hey Mike!
    Great to hear from you!  It’s been a while.  Hope your travels have been good to you.
    Normally, I take your stated view.  I tend to be tough on management when it comes to safety.  I go with the “management owns the system and controls it” view, thus my response.  I guess it really doesn’t matter as long as they provide a system and processes that takes care of safety issues and they provide a safe working environment.  Too often, I find processes that are unsafe and they blame the workers for accidents.
    Hope all is well in your end of Texas.  So far – we’ve lucked out and all the heavy storms have missed us here in Tyler – barely.  Hope it stays that way!
    Take care,
    Shooter

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    #155049

    GrayR
    Participant

    Agree with the comment on the process owner also being a customer.  A comparison is that an outside customer can ‘specify’ an expectation from a supplying process; likewise, a process owner can also specify an expectation.  In the first case, the outside customer can request an improvement when the process doesn’t meet expectations.  In the second case, the process owner is responsible for the improvement. 
    I think the definition for ‘customer’ is the source that defines or specifies the needed output from the process — this includes any output — service, product, performance, cost . . .

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    #155067

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    SSS,
    Things are getting busy so I can’t always get back here as often as I like to.
    There are a couple issues here that cannot be separated. There is the customer of the project and the customer of the deployment. If you ultimately want a pull type environment from PO’s in a deployment (they are driving the deployment with requests for projects) which you should then the PO’s will need to be treated as a customer of the project to eventually see the value of being the customer of the deployment. It creates sustainability. 
    If you read the current issue of iSixSigma Magazine there is an article on the South African deployment at Lonmin that we have been working on for the last couple years. Brad Mills is the CEO and he is relentless on driving safety. He talks about his views on safety in the article. (I don’t get a commission on magazine sales) I am not sure responsibility stops at management. Everyone needs to be involved.
    Weather is great today after a some rain. Cleared up just in time for the Jimmy Buffett concert this evening. Not enough to want to ride the scooter to the concert though.
    Regards
    PS: A friend from Australia, David Brockwell, sent me this definition of gravity (safety related) that is pretty relevant in mining and on oil rigs “An invisible force created by nature used to physically inform people that someone working above them has made a mistake.”

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    #155068

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Grayr,
    I like that definition of a customer. It fits well for government agencies and stock holders as well as external and internal customers.
    Thanks.
    Regards

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    #155070

    Craig
    Participant

    Mike,
    I am a little confused about the process owner being a customer. If I visualize a SIPOC, I see the process owner as a customer of the suppliers, and I also see the process owner as the one who manages and controls the inputs. Is it in this context that you see the process owner as a customer? I suppose there are many “handshakes” in the supply chain, so everyone is potentially a customer for someone!
    Let me know if I am on the right track.
    By the way, I want to be a customer of a charter fishing boat soon.
    HACL

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    #155089

    GrayR
    Participant

    I agree that there are many handshakes in the supply chain, but I don’t that the items you mention define a ‘customer’. I have to go back to what I have been using in training and in work — a customer is anyone (could be one or manay different entities) that has an expectation from the process. That expectation could be related to cost (for a process owner) or price (for the external customer); yield (owner) or quality (customer); performance; service; etc. Yes there can be conflicting expectations from a process, that is why tools like QFD are so helpful in sorting out priorities.This definition fits well with “voice of the customer” — since the ‘voice’ represents the expectation.I don’t see a conflict with the process owner being a customer. The best process owners are customers and should have high expectations for their processes. If they don’t, then all improvement activities would be initiated by those outside the process.In the case of the original question — the owner is a customer because they have a higher expectation for the safety process — in other words, the process needs improved. And the employees are customers because they expect to work in a safe environment. The role of the improvement project is to ensure that the expectations can be met for both ‘customers’ without casing some conflict.

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    #155090

    Definition
    Participant

    When the process owner = customer the definition becomes trivial. The core of the supplier -customer relationship is the idea of an exchange. That’s the genus proximum. In order for a term such as customer to have a meaning it needs to have a differntia specifica relative to the genus proximums. Expectations are psychological constructs and so universal that their role in a definition such as customer becomes non-differentiating, i.e. trivial. Everybody is a customer is simply trivial from a linguistic, economic and process point of view.

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    #155091

    Customer
    Participant

    Webster’s Dictionary:
    One that purchases a commodity or service
    Could it really be that simple?  Is the field of quality/lean/six sigma trying to make more out of this than what really exists?
    So what do ALL “customers” have in common?  They purchase something! 
    Deliver the RIGHT product at the highest possible QUALITY at lowest possible COST and do it ON-TIME/EVERY-TIME and you will have very happy customers and a successful business that continually grows.  Is it really any more complicated than that?  Granted, HOW that gets done is another story, but that don’t change WHAT a customer is or what they want/need.
    End of story.
    Thank You,
    A Common Customer

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    #155092

    trivial
    Member

    Glad to see that there are still some very simple minds who run modern day business by citing from the Webster’s Dictionnary. Obviously, they have missed a few key ingredients of modern business such as the practice of vertical and/or horizontal integration, transfer pricing and a lots of other business concepts.
    “Deliver the RIGHT product at the highest possible QUALITY at lowest possible COST and do it ON-TIME/EVERY-TIME and you will have very happy customers and a successful business that continually grows” … that’s a hypothesis, no more and no less. Of course, unless, you believe in the Webster’s Dictionary and some prescriptive books on quality etc. …

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    #155093

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    hacl,
    I am in dire need of being a customer of that charter boat as well. It looks like May is out and June is filling up fast.
    I am not quite sure what is going on but with 8.5 months left in the year you would think the odds would be against several people trying to schedule stuff on the same few days over the next 6 weeks. I will be in Scottsdale for ISSSP in May. Are you planning on being in town?
    In the way we set up a project pipeline the Process Owner is a customer. They own the portion of the pipeline where they identify projects and feed them into a Six Sigma Steering Committee/Business Improvement Steering Committee. That committee assigns projects to a Belt who completes a project (if the PO identifies the project you do not have to screw around with all the concerns about buy in – they picked the project and control the resources so they are bought in). At project completion (Control Phase) the Process Owner again has complete ownership of the implementation. At that point they have the right to refuse or accept – they are a customer.
    Put our system aside. If you want culture change the Process Owner must see the SS group as a service organizations that helps them achieve what they need to accomplish. You want them trying to get projects chartered – basically a pull system – rather than a bunch of belts wasting time running around trying to convince them they have a problem in their area and a SS project is just the solution. If you see and treat Process Owners as customers of the Six Sigma Deployment people may find out that the deployment become a lot easier to sustain. Just look at so many of the posts that you see on here.
    It is like talking to your doctor – basically you are stupid and do what I say because I am a trained professional and know better. If you have a monopoly like the AMA you have no choice but when you are at work and the PO’s control the resources you need to make sure you understand them from a customers perspective.
    Just my opinion.

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    #155095

    GrayR
    Participant

    Definition, 
    I would like to consider several issues concerning your definition of a ‘customer’.  Like you, I would like to develop some guidelines for a good definition, including universal application and scalability.
     
     1. Just a clarification, my post does not state ‘everybody’ is the customer – that, I agree is trivial.  To clarify the ‘expectation’ definition, it means that a customer is anybody (not everybody) that ‘has’ (defines) an expectation for a process. (Note, it doesn’t seem reasonable that someone not interested in the process, would in some way, set an expectation, so this also leaves out random setting of expectations). The question is whether the definition of a customer involves ‘expectation’ only; ‘exchange’ only; or a combination of both.
    2. Extending the logic, one question is whether expectations are always linked to the customer.  From a six sigma/quality perspective, expectations are directly related to the process quality.  Some different ways that this is linked includes: “Meet or exceed customer expectations”; or “Deliver the RIGHT product at the highest possible QUALITY at lowest possible COST and do it ON-TIME/EVERY-TIME” from a previous post.  Note that RIGHT, QUALITY, COST, TIME are all expectations of the customer.  This is the fundamental concept for process quality, and the first precept for the global ISO quality standard. It would be interesting to discuss the triviality of expectations and customers with the ISO Standards body.  So I don’t think we can automatically disregard ‘expectations’ from the definition.  Since anybody can set an expectation, it also means that there can be many different levels of expectations for a process – including some trivial ones and some not so trivial – likewise, not all customer’s expectations may be met with every process.
     
    3.  Further considering the full replacement of ‘exchange’ for ‘expectation’ as the key concept for the definition of a customer, I think exchange means that one party is exchanging something with another party.  It seems to me that the concept of an exchange also indicates that both parties ‘expect’ something in exchange.  If one party (the “customer”) purchases something, but does not receive something in exchange, then: i.) by definition no exchange took place, and ii.) the “customer’s” expectations were not met because they didn’t receive anything.  The issue is, by i.) no customer can be identified in this process because no exchange took place, and without a customer, there is no failure of the concept of customer satisfaction, but wouldn’t this violate ii.)? Got me confused.  (maybe you mean that a customer is an entity involved in a process where “an exchange may or may not take place” – which seems to include ‘everything’ – but wouldn’t this be an extreme definition of trivial?). 
     
    4. The next scenario is a person, Joe, who purchases a latte from Starbucks – this seems to be a VERY CLEAR EXAMPLE of a supplier (Starbucks) and a customer (Joe).  In fact it meets many different definitions of a customer.  There is an exchange — a latte for 10 bucks.  There is a purchase — kudos to the post by ‘Customer’.  And there is a customer, Joe, that has an expectation — the latte will be hot, delivered on time, and for a reasonable price (well, maybe reasonable price . . .).  No problem here.
     
    5.  However, this process can actually be viewed from many perspectives. From Joe’s perspective, he is SUPPLYING 10 bucks – doesn’t this make Starbucks the CUSTOMER?  And in this exchange, doesn’t Starbucks expect to receive 10 bucks?  Do we now also have to come up with the concept of a dissatisfied ‘supplier’, since Starbucks didn’t get paid? To a neutral observer, how would the observer consider scenario #4 to be more representative of customer-supplier relationship than #5?   And if a neutral observer can’t differentiate between the two, does this situation become i.e., trivial?   Without exchange directionality, there is no differentiation between Starbucks and Joe as customers.  So, in your definition, does there have to be exchange directionality so that Starbucks is always the supplier, and Joe the customer?  In other words, is the customer always the sender of the money – or is there another characteristic (differentiae specificae) that will help us define the directionality of the exchange?  And, if money has to be involved, does this throw out the concept of an internal customer, since an internal customer may not exchange any money (no kudos to the Customer post)? My definition would allow these concepts to exist, although, it does as you say increase the number of customers that should be considered. 
     
    6. This leads to more confusion, because I think that bartering is also a process (inputs, outputs, etc.) – it seems to me that bartering entities can play both a supply and customer role – but there is no differentiation between the two as entities.  Does this mean that bartering may be a process where there is NO customer?  (kind of throws out the entire quality philosophy of the definition of a ‘process’).
     
    7.  Let’s take another example, ABC Factory (supplier) ships widgets to DEF Company (customer).  DEF is a very large customer, having over 80,000 employees worldwide. We will consider scalability, and only focus on the process from when the widget is made in ABC and then used on the shop floor at DEF’s plant in Michigan.  If the widgets come in and they don’t work in the machine, then the floor supervisor’s expectations would not be met and he/she would be very dissatisfied with widget quality.  Meets my definition with the floor supervisor being one customer.  However, I am having a difficult time understanding what the floor supervisor exchanged with ABC Factory?  So to resolve this, I could say that process (and customer) definitions are not scalable and we can’t consider the floor supervisor as a real customer.  We could consider DEF Company as the real customer, since it, as an entity, actually exchanged money for the widgets. But it would seem rather illogical to identify the accounts payable clerk (who processed the payment check) as the customer since the only thing exchanged was an invoice and a check — what happens to the widgets in this exchange?  So the logical step would be to say that ‘DEF COMPANY’ is the real customer since it iin total received the widgets AND paid the money. But does the ‘exchange’ definition now become trivial because all 80,000 employees have to be considered to make it work?
     
    8.  Getting back to the original question of 4/20.  I think that the employees in the plant could be considered customers of the safety process and I think this is because they have an expectation that ‘safety’ (no accidents) will be an output from the process.  Again, some help here, what are they exchanging with the safety process?
     
    Regards,
    GrayR

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    #155096

    Tony Bo
    Member

    J…
    If you did a SIPOC…it would help.  From what you write….I would say…the supplier is the machine…and the customer is the forklift driver.  He/She is recieving the product.  So…is there something that can be done with the product to best prepare it for a safer removal by the customer (Forklift driver).  Or is can the driver use something else to move the product form the machine…etc.
    My two cents…
     
     

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    #155122

    Definition
    Participant

    To me it looks like the “old” terms stakeholder, and internal vs. external customer pretty much cover the differences between monetary and non-monetary exchanges and the idea of expectations in regards to the process.

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    #155160

    MudaSensei
    Participant

    Hey Mike…it’s been a while and bad weather ( in Perth ) has brought me to visit the forum……
    I am currently in OZ and intend to stay there…….a few days ago we had a meeting on Safety…..the message we are trying to put across the company (Mining & Construction / Oil and Gas orientated )…..is…….EVERYONE…….is responsible for safety…….not just the management or/and the Safety Advisors who write the procedures or processes( which actually come from the JHA’s, Take 5’s from the actual workers who perform the jobs )…….but we have a long way to go…..
    Question ……which one of the two mentioned here drives the other…..Quality or Safety?

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    #155180

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Mudasensei,
    I thought you had just disappeared. Interesting relocation. I don’t want to speak poorly of England but the Australian climate suites me much better.
    One of the biggest issues we have run into with safety in mining is that it is an inherently dangerous business particularly underground mining. When you hear people use the term “think outside the box” it can quickly apply to fatalities in mining. There is an old guard that just cannot imagine mining without someone dieing during the year. That is your first challenge is to get people to understand that the job can be done without killing someone, then you have to move to a vision that it is unacceptable to hurt someone. The CEO that I work for, Brad Mills, is absolutely relentless in driving a Zero Harm program, so for us it starts at the top. If you read the iSixSigma magazine article on Lonmin under the section titled Zero Harm (pg 24) Brad talks about beginning an organizations transformation “in these kinds of environments is all around the safety conversation because it is an easy enrollment conversation.” Who doesn’t want to work in a safer environment, what better issue to let the workforce know you care about them and it gets you over the corporate inertia.
    When we began the Lonmin deployment we were asked to deliver a benefit in terms of rand (South African currency) and in rand/PGM ounce. Brad also set a goal/requirement that 20% of the projects were to be safety projects. Interesting conundrum since frequently a safety project has a benefit that is difficult to quantify. We set up our targets basically to drive Brad’s request for benefits with 80% of the projects and we got it. I guess that really answers your question that we are driving safety through Six Sigma projects i.e. safety is the Y and the projects affect the x’s.
    Let me give you an example. We use small locomotives (locos and they are small relative to the one used above ground but they are not actually small as in the HOscale small) to move ore. When they derail people are frequently hurt and sometimes killed. If they do not derail you reduce the probability of someone getting hurt. We calculate the MTBF on a derailment and drive that as a primary metric. There is an inherent cost to putting one of these things back on the tracks (which is another opportunity for injury) but the cost of the injuries and fatalities can be difficult to quantify with any credibility at all – so we don’t.
    Let me suggest a book I got from the oil and gas guys (have been doing some work on the deep water rigs) “Leading with Safety” by Thomas R. Krause ISBN-13 978-0-471-49425-6 or ISBN-10 0-471-49425-9. It speaks about using applied behavior analysis to get you where you want to go in safety. Good read.
    I expect this is one of thse long posts Steve O will let me know about. Sorry for rambling for so long. I hope this helps – glad to see you back and best of luck in Oz.
    Regards

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    #155183

    CT
    Participant

    These kind of discussions really get to me sometimes. WHEN IT COMES TO SAFETY EVERYONE IS THE CUSTOMER.
    The operator of the machine now has a safer way of removing the part.   The downstream operator now has a safer way to receive the part. The supervisor now has a safer team environment. The Production manager now has a safer work force. The plant manager now has a safer plant, and so on and so on. Stop complicating the issue and look at the intangibles.
    To make sure your working on the correct issue, perform a Job Safety Analysis, JSA. This will help you determine where to start.

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    #155185

    Heebeegeebee BB
    Participant

    Hey Mike, great article and a very refreshing mindset on the part of Brad.   I’m really encouraged to hear of increased safety-focus in the mining industry, esp in Zuid Afrika.    20% of all projects are to be safety-centric?  WOW, that  is truly inspiring!   It sends a terrific message not only to their employees, but also to their Investors.   Really good stuff.
    Lonmin looks like a World-Class player to me.
    Hope you are doing well…

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    #155186

    Heebeegeebee BB
    Participant

    My spelling stinks today…
    ;-)

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    #155199

    Lee
    Participant

    Can someone comment on two customer concepts that are evolving in my head?
    First, the customer that sets the expectations is not necessarily the immediate recipient of the process output.  Example:  At this facility we have a product that is cut and often the cuts are incorrect (rather that being of the right weight, two pieces need to be put together to make the weight).  After the cutting the product is coated, and that coating is done on a weight basis only.  After it is coated, the next step is packaging, but extra labor is expended when two pieces have to used to make the package weight.  When I looked at the process the cutter only optimized the machine for his ease, as the weight produced was the same if each piece was the right weight or if it was comprised of two pieces (His goal was to produce 10,000 lbs today).  The recipient of the cutting (the coater) did not have an expectation on the individual piece weight.  In this case I saw the customer as “once removed” in the stream, as the coater effectively muted the packager’s expectations for an efficient system and led to no change in the cutting process (until I looked at it and said it was non-sense).  So… have others seen instances of what I loosely call a “once removed” customer?  If a process is defined too large, it is hard to grasp all of it and change it.  If a process is too narrowly defined, we may miss the VOC that helps us have a better system.
     
    The second concept that is evolving, for me, is that of customer sophistication.  In my experience, some of our external customers simply look at a sample of our final products and then say they want x lbs of it.  To ask them about their expectations is almost as fruitless as to ask a wall (OK, a bit of an overstatement).  Other customers, however, interact with us and develop a pretty detailed description (expectations, VOC) that is written.  The sophisticated customers seem to be a lot easier to understand from a VOC perspective, and the less sophisticated are harder to work with (to understand how one might delight them, as even they do not seem to know).  Do others also see a wide range of sophistication of their customers?
    Thanks for your reply,
    Eugene

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    #155202

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Heebeegeebee BB,
    My spelling stinks most days but if we are results oriented and the point is communication and I understood what you said they it is all good.
    I hope Darth doesn’t read this or I will never hear the end of it.
    Regards

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    #155203

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Heebeegeebee BB,
    Thank you. This is one of those deployments that you just have a good time doing. That doesn’t mean it has not been difficult particularly in terms of Change Management. We talk to companies all the time that tell you “well we can’t improve right now because we are in the middle of doing SAP.” Brad put it all in play all at the same time and there were days you felt like the little Dutch boy with his fingers in the dike but the cool part was Brad and his staff were right there with us.
    Just an example of what he is like. We have what we call Six Sigma House where as some people like to say we have “exiled” our BB’s. Pretty good results from exiles. It is a converted GM’s home were the consultants live, BB have desk space and we have a classroom (yes we have a swimming pool and brie area as well – and we use them).  Two houses up the road is what used to be called the Executive Guest House where Brad and staff stayed when they were on site. Brad called one evening and asked if he could come down. Rhetorical question from the CEO. I said yes and he walked down. One BB had his ffet on a desk and I suggested he not do that because Brad was coming down. They flew out of the house because they had never been one on one with the CEO. Brad came in and talked to those left for about 2 hours and learned to operate the deployment tracking software (E track from Instantis). Now when he shows up the Belts run the consultants and managers out so they can do their one on one without us. He spent one evening with them for 4 hours. That is a huge amount of a CEO’s time.
    My Kaizen guy used to get fired or threatened with it weekly. He told Brad that he(Brad) was supposed to fire him because of something he did on a Kaizen. Ulices now carries a note from Brad that says (approximately) “Since you are receiving this note that means you have just fired Ulices. I have just hired him back at twice his salary. Please stop firing him this is getting expensive.” Just subtle things like this have made it a fun deployment. We won’t even mention the fact that South Africa is a great place to work and the universities there turn out some absolutely fantastic engineers.
    Doing well. Thanks. You as well I hope.
    Regards

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    #155206

    The myth of expectations
    Member

    Eugene,
    It is nice to see a refreshing view on a topic that has been beaten to into people’s head and to the point of becoming another business myth: the fact that customers have expectations :-).
    The background of this myth is as follows: When satisfaction research was established as a marketing discipline in the early 1960s, the key researcher (Cardozo) tested if “satisfaction” was driven by physiological processes (Helson’s adaptation theory) or cognitive processes (Festinger’s dissonance reaction theory). He found that neither theory could be validated, so he created a hybrid theory that assumed that satisfaction is driven by an arousal process whereby consumers develop “expectancies” regarding a given product that are then compared against the actual performance of a product. This was tested in experimental settings and resulted in the so called expectancy/performance paradigm of customer satisfaction.
    As soon as researchers reviewed this theory of satisfaction in the real world, they found that consumers do not evaluate a product based on expectations particularly if they have had no prior experience with it!
    Ironically, mainstream consultants and business books never picked up on this little challenge of the real world to the experimental setting of the original theory. So now, we have the somewhat amusing consequence that so many quality managers are convinced that a “customer” is defined as someone who has “expectations”. Consequently, quality has made it its “crusade” to beat into people’s heads that satisfaction is driven by a comparison of expectations to actual performance … Promulgating the idea that customers may use processes other than the comparison of expectations with performance to evaluate a product or service is a crime punishable by expulsion from the quality community.  
    In essence, try not to have this kind of  thoughts … they are highly disruptive to the mindset of consultants and managers who desperately develop a “common language”  for all employees, stakeholders, shareholders and … customers :-).

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    #155210

    GrayR
    Participant

    In my previous posts, I have tried to explain how the various parties interested in any process output fit into the definitions of customers, stakeholders, etc.  Since processes can be defined at many levels, they also can have many (types of) outputs.  For example, at one level, a manufacturing process may output both a product and a waste stream.  The ‘customers’ of these outputs would have different expectations on what would be considered acceptable.  Likewise, I think there can be many independent customers that can be directly affected and have different expectations about the same process output (your first example).  There is always an issue about conflicting expectations that needs resolved.  I think that is one reason why the ‘customer expectation’ sometimes is less considered in some processes than the expectations of other customers, such as the immediate process owner.  The need is to be able to identify and prioritize (economically, safely, etc.) the expectations among the customers. 
    For the second example, you have already defined the first expectation for some of your customers — “x lbs of material”.  If you sent them x/2 lbs. they would not be very satisfied.  But it seems like you are trying to do more than just satisfy the basic expectations. I think all customers have some basic expectations, although they may not understand them very well. For external customers, there probably is a way to delight each of them, but they probably will not be able to tell you how to do it — this is where the real success lies. One example is the iPod — probably few people could articulate that they wanted an iPod in 1999.  The same for non-consumer products — I have seen some commodity-type, non-consumer products and services become very profitable because they saved the customer money or time. Are you familiar with Quality Function Deployment or the Kano Model?

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    #155212

    50 years behind
    Participant

    The more interesting question is: Is GrayR familiar with any of the discussions that followed Kano’s model (developed 50 years ago and never tested it empirically … which is therefore also known as a “heuristic model” :-)?
    And what strange logic to equate “expected quality” with “x lbs of material” … So now we shift “expectations” to the level of “quantity” in order to safe the assumption of that all customers have “expectations”. … “I think all customers have some basic expectations” that’s a very personal thought, commendable, but just that: a personal thought, i.e. an assumption :-).

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    #155213

    Zero expectation of quality
    Member

    I have seen the light!  Customers have no expectations for quality, therefore, we can sell them any piece of garbage we build.  Defects are okay, for customers have no expectation of defect free goods and services.  If we build it, they will come!  Business life just got so much easier.  And all this time, we thought customers were tough to deal with.

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    #155214

    50 years ago?
    Participant

    The Kano Model was first published in an article in 1984.  That would be 23 years ago.  I doubt it took 27 years between its development and the publishing of the article.  Could you be wrong on your timeline?

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    #155215

    A for trying
    Participant

    It is becoming increasingly obvious that GrayR has no knowledge base to back up the claims of  those presumably “new” insights. As can be expected from a novice in the field of quality, we are now being sold a translation from the 1980s as the original text. So much so for original ideas or even the ability to trace back ideas to their origin :-). The argument (if one wants to be courteous enough to call the confused rambling of GayR’s undigested ideas as an “argument”) is becoming more and more transparent for its shallowness … I’ll give GrayR an A …  for trying :-).

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    #155216

    The honest approach
    Member

    Jokes aside:
    It would be helpful to at least read up on an article by Churchill in AMA in 1982 and a subsequent controversy between Churchill and Tea in the AMA special edition of 1984 to get a basic grounding in the debate over expectations and customers. Citing Kano’s ideas from 1984 (introduced much earlier … but now we can debate the difference between the publication and the introduction of an idea) and thinking that this is sufficient to support a theory is simply not cutting it. A series of research by Oliver in the late 1980s may also shed some light on an issue that has been widely neglected in the quality field. Happy Reading :-).
    A much more justifiable approach is to give up on the insistence on the relationship between expectations and customers and support the argument from a pragmatic point of view .. What does the change that GayR is proposing contribute to the bottom line of an organization, or what does it do to improve on current quality practices? While this approach is not quite as theoretically sound and fenciful, it is at least honest in that it introduces the idea as a prescriptive, heuristic idea and leaves it to others to validate if this new idea works.
    But still, I don’t understand what it does above and beyond the classical differentiation between supplier, customer (internal and external), process owner, process champion, stakeholder and shareholder.

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    #155217

    GrayR
    Participant

    — Agreed on all points, including that Kano ideas are models and that an idea doesn’t support a theory.
    — The discussion about Kano was to assist the poster asking about his/her customer’s inability to identify what they wanted other than quantity.
    — The discussion about customers was not meant to replace the classic definitions of customer, stakeholder, etc. and only was meant to help the original poster concerning a question on whether the process owner can be a customer.  In total, I don’t think that these terms are mutually exclusive . . . for example, a customer can also be a shareholder, etc.  So the only question that I addressed is whether a process owner can be a customer, and ‘why’. 
    — I am also open to understanding why a process owner cannot be a customer and why.
    Thanks.

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    #155218

    Customer
    Participant

    Somehow I would suspect that this forum’s efforts to agreeably define the term “customer” will be about as likely as a group of politicians trying to define the term “honest.” 
    Today’s top quality professionals can not (or perhaps will not) agree on what the term quality really means, let alone being able to agree to such things as six sigma and lean.  Personally, I am able to grasp these terms, but certainly can not offer a universally acceptable definition.  Yes, there are many dimensions to each of these terms, or any other commonly used professional term.  As individual practitioners, you look to the leadership of others within your field, but when they speak, you say they are wrong or find some trivial exception.  Seems like many of you would argue even if GOD gave you the definition.
    One poster within this thread goes so far as to say that Webster’s Dictionary has no real meaning because this source is not from within the field of quality (or something like that).  What percent of the world population would equate quality with defects.  Probably the majority.  So is it wrong?  How about the old idea that perception = reality.
    Wait a minute!  I’m starting to get caught up in this diatribe.  OK, I’m out a here.
    Have fun everyone.
    This message has been brought to you by: A Paying Customer that just wants some good value for his money (expected or otherwise).
    I wonder how Henry Ford or some other business giant would define the term “customer”?  But hold the ship, the forum members probably see no merit in the perspectives of such people because they were not quality professionals; just highly successful business men (and women).  Perhaps we should look for the points of agreement with each other and not look for where we could “theoretically” disagree with another simply based on some molecular exception or miniscule difference in perception.

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    #155219

    GrayR
    Participant

    Definitions may have taken a new name(s).
    — I don’t think I have provided any new insights into this discussion. The ISO standard links expectations with customers; and I don’t think it can be separated from the definition.  I haven’t seen a better definition of the customer as it relates to the process quality.
    — As far as the discussion on Kano, I use it only as a model and suggested that the poster may find it helpful.  I don’t know whether or not it has been disproved as a theory, but there examples (facts) that do support the model.
    — Also agreed that I have not individually developed some new product or service that has absolutely delighted the customer, or I, like you, wouldn’t be posting on this site to spend my time.
    — One example that I am seen in the aerospace industry (that does support the Kano model) is that of Dynamet-Titanium and SmartCoil.  The customer did not articulate what it needed, but Dynamet’s owners saw how their product was being used and changed their product into something that did delight the customer. Among other things, the development paid for the owner’s GulfStream jet.  See page 7, http://www.cartech.com/dynamet/Dynamet.pdf

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    #155225

    Jim Shelor
    Participant

    What a great message.  Did you hit the nail on the head or what.

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    #155226

    Allthingsidiot O
    Participant

    Well-said
    Just imagine the  chinese definition for  quality and  compare  it  to the  Japanese definition?or  to  western  concept

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    #155228

    J Sweere
    Participant

    Hi Eugene,
    I want to post a reply on your second concept;
    You seem to refer to customers only as being a customer of your product (the product that leaves your machines). I’d say, in a manufacturing company, you’ve always got different levels of sophistication. You are probably someone with a high education and your customers need not to be at the same level.
    I’m experiencing it here with my safety issues; I try to get the voice of the people from the work floor, but they don’t seem to understand the dangers nor my questions about safety. It’s hard to talk to them in a way that isn’t degenerating because they use different ‘slang’. My process owner, on the other hand (engineer), had his answers ready, though it needed some deeper and more difficult questions from my end to get to this real point. These are the problems I’ve run into during my investigation for defining the voice of the customer.  
     Hope you can do something with it.
    My rgrds

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    #155242

    Dan Chauncey
    Participant

    I am late entering this discussion, but would like to make two points. The first is the process under study. Is it the safety process. I don’t think so. It is the original work process and the project is about focusing on one type of defect… accidents.
    The second point is about who the customer is. I struggle with this from time to time. Especially when cost are the issue. Dies the “person who uses the output” care if rewark is required? In that case the “company” is the customer. Were you to collect the VOC of the ned user, you would probably find out that they don’t care as long as it is fixed before they get it and the costs aren’t passed on.
    Thoughts?

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    #155248

    Heebeegeebee BB
    Participant

    So you aren’t a fan of the Socratic Method?
    Thesis–>Antithesis–>Synthesis
    I don’t disagree with you entirely, but without antithesis, groupthink can claw it’s way into your learning cycles.
    my $0.02

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    #155251

    Industry Fodder
    Participant

    … obviously spoken by someone who is neither at the top edge of the field (or even on top of the discussion in the field) nor in a position to steer a business … but good old industry fodder that likes intellecutal apple pies and is a solid believer in what consultants tell him to believe … a cow could not have put it more succinctly (and it obviously reverbarates with the likes of  Allthingsidiot (O) and Jim Shelor).

    0
    #155253

    Inconsistencies
    Participant

    isn’t

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    #155256

    Sour grapes
    Member

    Isn’t it interesting, how the very same person who started a pseudo-philosophical discussion about the definition of the term “customer” now retreats into a diatribe against the practice of defining terms as a purely academic exercise? And that after it has become painfully obvious that he doesn’t have the level of education nor the academic background to intellegently engage in such a debate. So after starting and losing his own argument, he now unleashes his frustration against argumentation in general. Didn’t we used to call that “sour grapes” :-).

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    #155266

    Lee
    Participant

    Thanks for the feedback.  You inferred a conclusion that I was approaching:  That the VOC is sometime straight up (easily understood and complete), but when it is not the BB needs to develop a skill in asking questions that gets the type VOC that are actionable (that we can act on/respond to).
    Thanks again,
    Eugene

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    #155267

    Lee
    Participant

    Thanks for your time to put together a reply.
    For your first comment:  I have come to the conclusion that the VOC is really a fairly complex idea.  Thus, when I hear a simplistic answer, or a “whatever” type of reply, I am to conclude that I’m not talking to the critical customer; that there is likely another out there someplace that does have more expectations.
    In regards to your second set of comments:  I’m familiar with the Kano concept, but have not used the QFD as much as I should.  I used a simplified QFD on a past project, but not on this one.  To unravel what will delight a customer is not a simple task and will require insight/innovation.
    Please do not think that the delay in this response is a reflection of not caring — quite to the contrary.  I had a deadline for getting some new procedures out for review that had to be done too.
    Eugene
     

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