Hello again! If you’ve been following, we’ve been sharing with you the steps of a tool for quality control that we at CMW believe in, called the LEAD Quality Process Model. LEAD stands for:

L: Listen

E: Evaluate

A: Answer

D: Deliver

It’s a simple (yet still thorough) layout to help you accomplish the most (and the most, most effectively) out of each phase of a project or problem that needs resolving — basically, anything that requires a high-quality solution. We’ve discussed steps one and two, Listen and Evaluate…now, it’s time to complete what you started. It’s time to Answer and Deliver.

ANSWER

  • Develop a solution that meets the requirement or solves the problem
    • Make considerations before creating a design
    • Flow chart the new design
    • Develop a contingency plan/prevention checklist

The first two steps were about receiving, then analyzing, a requirement or problem. Now, of course, it’s time to solve it. Answer the call! 

The solution should show a step-by-step system or process that meets the customer’s needs, eliminates the root cause of the old problem, and avoids creating a new problem. There are a few key elements to consider before creating a design, basically an action plan for the solution:

  • Customer needs & quality/service level criteria
  • Past successes and failures
  • The purpose that the design is intended to meet
  • Data on existing related products or processes
  • Competitive products or services

Ultimately, the goal is to prepare to create a solution, but not determine the outcome before more discussion with customers and more analysis — a repetition of Listen and Evaluate. Like we said, the four steps are simple, but they must be done thoroughly to be successful; in this case, it can mean retreading old ground to make sure you’ve covered all your bases.

That being said, when you’re ready to actually develop a design, here are the steps you can start with.

  • Identify needed work steps
    • Develop a contingency diagram/prevention checklist
    • Identify additional steps necessitated by customer needs/expectations
    • Review all material from analysis (including Pareto data and/or root cause)
  • Use a flowcharting method to design the new or improved process
  • Set process measure guidelines to gauge effectiveness

Let’s break each of those down. First, developing a contingency diagram or prevention checklist can be not only be a powerful and practical tool, but also fun. Basically, it’s a form of reverse brainstorming; start by being as negative as possible — How can we be sure this plan fails? Say, release every employee’s cats onto the company computers. Alright, bad example. Then, turn each fiasco around by thinking of steps that would prevent the disasters. Remember the 1-10-100 rule, and when we talked about finding root causes instead of “firefighting” — focus on prevention over fixing!

Flowcharting, as seen in the last step, is also a useful tool in this phase. As a basis:

Refer back to Evaluate for more flowchart examples — several of these visual aids and exercises can be applied across the board!

Finally, you’ll want to set process measure guidelines so that you have a way to gauge how effective the solution is. Provide data used to monitor and improve the process, focusing on a few key pieces:

  • Execution
  • Efficiency
  • Quality

Quality! At the end of the day, of course, that’s what this is about. Quality is what you need in the final product — speaking of which…

DELIVER

You’ve Listened, Evaluated, and Answered…all that’s left to do is Deliver on what you’ve been working towards. This is it. You have all the data and problem-solving done to create a solid, finalized action plan. For just one example of a template:

While poring over your work to write out the plan, if there’s a single thought to bring it all together cohesively, let it be: Focus on the customer. That includes Primary and Secondary (revisit Listen!) That is who all of this is for, whether you’re actively solving a challenge for a product or service being given to them, figuring out a requirement for that product, or making your day-to-day office environment more conducive to ultimately benefit the audience you serve.

From facilitating effective communication between you, your suppliers, and your customers; to taking the time to scrutinize the numbers and data available to you to look at common issues and their root causes; to having enough information gathered to respond to the problem at hand; to laying out a direct and exact action plan to solve it — we hope the LEAD Quality Process model can help you in your endeavors as much as it’s helped us. Smaller steps and critical details can get lost in the chaos of a complex project — focusing on it one phase at a time makes for a more effective workflow, and, most importantly, helps you prevent the same problems from cropping up again. 

So give your customers and employees the quality they deserve…go forth and LEAD!

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