I work in a factory that applies protective coatings to other peoples products (yes correct we paint stuff for money is what we do and pretty good at it too). We operate a system that encourages operatives to engage and solve problems which means a level of trust but it also means providing the right kind of information in the best possible form so that those operatives can engage and solve problems.
What we don’t do is say, hey you do what you please and we’ll look after everything by inspecting it and then making you do it again till its right. You do this and you’ll very soon go out of business either from cost’s being out of control or customers not getting product on time and refusing to come back.
So what do I mean by No Need to Inspect?
What I mean is that if Leadership builds customer satisfaction into the process right the way through then inspection activities become largely unnecessary.
Leaders have to do a couple of things and think in a certain way to make this a success;
Firstly leaders have to understand what the customer is looking to get from the contract in terms of the product you provide, the service you’ll give them and the process that they will engage in with you as their supplier.
Next, this has to be translated into information that your people can use. It has to be in your own language so its isn’t too scary for those who have to do that actual hands-on work. This will normally translate into describing a process to be followed in easy steps.
Next, you’ll have to get the work done, get your people to follow the instructions and you’ll get what you planned to get.
After this ship to the customer. And if all has gone to plan we have a happy customer, no law has been broken and the customer will come back for more. And you’ll have made some money too with the prospect of some more to come.
The other thing leaders have to do is have a presumption to ship. My experience is that if you’ve covered all of the critical stuff that customers really appreciate getting their things on time but better still early. If you’re going to ship and ship early you want to know that what you’re shipping right I guess.
So build into your process the idea of customer satisfaction, make what your customer wants in terms of product attributes and the level of service they expect and then communicate this to your people. Your people are then free to make a fantastic product, deliver a superb service and keep it all in or below budget because no time is wasted not doing the right thing.
When you’ve done all this you then go back to your people and your customer and ask were you all happy with the process and the outcomes. Then sit back and listen. Don’t say anymore, just listen and your people will tell you and your customers will tell you how it went, what they liked and what could be done a bit better next time.
So now you know what you need to do to do it better next time and it wont involve inspecting stuff I’ll bet.