Quality management system development

Why should you have a quality management system?

A quality management system is the first step towards truly understanding your business. A good QMS structures your business approach, embedding continuous improvement as a way of doing business.

The standard starts with asking you hard questions about your business and your customers. The system then takes a look at leadership, defining what the responsibilities of top management are, and what processes they must put in place. Planning comes next, to ensure the business understands what must be managed to succeed. Now the business knows what must be done, the resources must be made available to deliver on the plans. Operational control is required to ensure the products are properly designed, the processes for procurement, manufacture and control are in place and that operators know what to do when there is a problem. The process also has to be measured, this includes auditing and non-conformance management. Finally, the system demands continuous improvement.

As an ISO9001 lead auditor and lean six sigma master black belt I can integrate process improvement using world-class tools into your documented system.

Contact me for a discussion to see how I can help your business.

Tamarind Tree Consulting Ltd joins Centre For SME Development

Tamarind Tree Consulting Ltd has joined the Centre for SME Development, a UCLAN initiative to help and support small businesses and new startups.

AS a member of this group Tamarind Tree Consulting Ltd can help new businesses to develop their processes and support the managers and directors to grow with the business. Tamarind Tree Consulting Ltd looks forward to the opportunity to support these entrepreneurs by coaching and mentoring these new business leaders to develop the skills they will need as their businesses grow

Consulting

Tamarind Tree Consulting Ltd joins BSI

Tamarind Tree Consulting Ltd have joined the BSI organisation. As a business committed to improving the ease and effectiveness of ISO9001:2015 certification for SME’s it is a proud moment to be accepted as a member of the BSI organisation.

I felt it was important to be part of the BSI organisation to help promote quality and process excellence.

Cultural paradigm model

Do this one thing to speed up your culture change!

Culture change. It’s a huge and popular topic these days. There are so many departments that want to lead this area, human resources, change management, finance, organisational design, manufacturing, the list is as varied as the department names your business uses. Everyone tries their own strategy, but they all run into the same problem;

“Culture determines and limits strategy”

– Edgar H. Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership,  1985

So why does culture keep reasserting itself, no matter how much well-meaning change management is brought in. Internal consultants, external consultants, charismatic leaders, servant leaders, there are more leadership models than you can shake a stick at. Yet still, the culture reasserts itself, it is pervasive and incredibly hard to change. Why?

Culture change efforts always focus on changing behaviours. It is right that behaviours must change, but with all these skilled people changing behaviours, why doesn’t the culture change?

Johnson and Scholes proposed a model of culture in their cultural web. There are many aspects to culture, and it is vitally important to connect each of the aspects of the cultural web to the values and beliefs required for our new culture.

Johnson and Scholes 1988

One of the aspects of Johnson and Scholes cultural web that seems to be overlooked is Stories.

In every aspect of life, we tell stories, and these stories grow to be an oral history of the underlying “common sense” values and beliefs in the business. As change agents we work really hard to change behaviours, but how much effort do we put into changing the stories told? If we change behaviours to conflict with the stories in the business, we set new behaviours in conflict with the historical values and beliefs of the business. We start to hear comments such as “I know we aren’t supposed to say this, but…” or see the more experienced heads in the business purse their lips or shake their heads when new processes or behaviours are implemented. The old stories subside, but they don’t go away, they are instead told in quiet corners to select groups. The problem is the select groups overlap, so the story is still told as the history of the business, and the new behaviours are labelled as “the latest fad” and members are told to “just keep your head down and ride it out”. We create cliques and cabals to either protect our history or We can’t just suppress the old stories, and we can’t create new stories fast enough to displace the old values.

So what is the one thing that must be changed?

You can’t eliminate the story since it is part of the oral history of the business, so use it by changing the perspective of the story! Don’t just focus on changing behaviour, ensure the stories told in the business reflect the changing values and beliefs. Us the telling and retelling of the stories to change how the stories are interpreted and understood.

For example, if you have a hero culture and stories are told about how people have cut through bureaucracy to find solutions to past situations, just telling people not to tell the story won’t work. Telling people to obey the bureaucracy won’t work. Change the emphasis of the story to match the new belief system; add to the story, for example, add that whilst it was a brilliant outcome, highlight that there was a huge risk to the business from missing paperwork, and we were lucky to get away with it. When you get an example of the bureaucracy controlling the process and preventing an error, add a positive that using the bureaucracy has enabled the business to meet the customer needs. Once the change is embedded the story is changed forever. Reality hasn’t been changed, there is no deception, we have interpreted the old story in line with our new values. All the while we are telling new stories, stories that support the new values and beliefs.

In this way, we accelerate the culture change by adding new stories and modifying the interpretation of the old stories to match the modified cultures and beliefs embedded in the business. Be careful though, if you just tell people to interpret the story differently you will drive it into the shadows. The new interpretation must be through storytelling in collaboration with the people who guard the business beliefs and used to flush out conflicts between new and old values in a positive way for discussion and debate.

 In summary, if you want to change the way your business behaves, change the stories that are told in and by the business both new and old.

What story will you change today?

New and improved coaching and mentoring

How do you relate as a team?

I have recently finished the classroom studies for ILM Level 7 Certificate in Executive Coaching and Mentoring. I have been coaching for about 15 years and decided this year it was time to invest in formal qualifications to back up the skills I have. Although I have been coaching for a long time, it is only recently that I have identified this as an important skillset and opportunity. I started doing small business mentoring with Boost about 2 years ago,and over the course of the last 2 years, I have been blessed with amazingly positive feedback. I then started helping a former colleague who was struggling to get his team to deliver on business objectives. Whilst helping him, he and his team identified that I was very good at coaching. I got comments such as “You really see people don’t you?”. Someone even commented that I was very good at this.

Having had this feedback I decided to go get some formal qualifications, after all, I had been doing it for many years it should not be too difficult. Then I had another thought. How much would I learn if I started with the view that I already knew all I needed to? So I revisited my thought process and decided to start assuming that I would learn new things. I am so glad I made the change in my viewpoint! I was blessed to work with an outstanding group and some great teachers. Along the way, I learned some new techniques that helped me to strengthen what I already know and some new tools that took me out of my comfort zone. These new tools are really important. One of the things I realised is that I am very good at coaching and mentoring people like me. I am not so sure I would be as good coaching and mentoring someone who was very different until now. The new tools were uncomfortable since they demanded that I engaged in a different way. Having got past my discomfort, I now feel much better equipped to help more people.

The outcome then is that I now have more tools available that can be
used to supplement and complement the tools I have been using for years.

What is coaching?

The way I define coaching is the activity of helping the client find the best solutions to their problems by asking them the questions they can’t think of or articulate, then supporting them to find their best answers.

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring is using the mentor’s knowledge and wisdom to guide the client to develop their own insights, knowledge and breakthroughs and from that create their own wisdom.

Which button would you choose to represent yourself?

What next?

The next step for me is to continue learning and helping others. People often leave it too late to ask for help, meaning instead of coaching and mentoring to help them early on in their issue, they get caught in firefights and don’t make time to find help.

In case you are wondering why the pictures of buttons, these were a coaching tool that felt very uncomfortable until I understood it. One of the new tools uses buttons to help start meaningful conversations. This was something I would never have thought of.

The question you have to ask is could I be your button, the key that unlocks your potential and helps you become the best possible version of yourself. If I can, get in touch here

Tamarind Tree Consulting Ltd becomes Northern Powerhouse partner

Tamarind Tree Consulting Ltd is delighted to announce that it has joined the Northern Powerhouse Partner Programme. As a provider of training and productivity improvement support, Tamarind Tree Consulting Ltd is dedicated to supporting Northwest businesses to compete effectively. Deploying world class improvement and quality techniques, Tamarind tree Consulting Ltd can work in both service and manufacturing industries to improve output, capacity and quality.

Managing Director Tim Akerman said “The Northern Powerhouse initiative set out to support increasing productivity of northern manufacturing businesses. Tamarind Tree Consulting was set up with the same aim, so joining the Northern Powerhouse Partner Programme was a natural step forward. We are delighted to support this initiative and look forward to helping northern businesses improve productivity to become more competitive.”

Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, Jake Berry MP said:“I’m delighted to see another great northern business join our growing network of Northern Powerhouse Partners. 

“Rebalancing the economy so it works for everyone is at the heart of our vision for the Northern Powerhouse so I’m excited to see the contribution Tamarind Tree Consulting will make as they support other growing businesses in the North to thrive and boost local economic growth.”

Consulting

Why Employee Engagement is important

I see many articles about engagement linked to skills shortages recently. There is an abundance of advice of how to attract and retain suitably skilled staff. This got me thinking what is wrong with this picture?

The problem that I see is one of development. If every business wants to avoid spending money on training, development, apprenticeships, where exactly will those trained individuals come from? Someone, somewhere must create the pool of trained labour. There is talk of apprenticeships, but companies want apprentices trained more quickly, with less depth, then complain that their in house trained employees lack skills. The government receive much criticism for not funding training and apprenticeships, but is that really a government responsibility? I would argue that it is not. If you look at the latest version of ISO9001, there is a specific clause about ‘knowledge’. The standard talks about the responsibilities of senior management to ensure that the knowledge and skills required now, and for the future are identified and planned for.

I would ask when did educating employees and providing proper training for them become a burden? Is it not in the best interests of an organisation to ensure that every employee has the relevant skills for their role fully developed, to the highest standard possible? If employees are properly trained, they add value by ensuring their process is effective and efficient, eliminating non-value added steps. There is an odd by-product of investing in your employees and ensuring they have the best available skills. When you invest in them through training, they are more engaged with the business and believe in what they do. They also start to identify with the aims and objectives of the business.

If you want more engaged staff, who will make your business more effective, take the time to invest in their skills and develop their capabilities. You won’t be disappointed!

Marketing Aspects

Why it is important to be authentic in your business

I recently gave an interview to Marketing aspects magazine looking at the importance of authenticity in business. If you are genuine and authentic in your business, you are more likely to be clear and succeed.

Read the full article here: https://marketingaspects.co.uk/marketing-business-originality/

 

Consulting

Finding your company way

I have been thinking about why many lean and six sigma programmes struggle to gain traction. We all know the methods work, you only have to look at people like Toyota and GE to see that. What do they have that others are missing. I have an idea of what causes many of the problems, I would be interested in your views.

Most businesses chase cash investment to grow, sometimes they need cash investment just to survive. At the same time, they deem change to reduce, time, resources and cash used by existing processes too expensive, too difficult or unsustainable! This seems counter productive.

If we now look at how many improvement projects immediately look for reduced workforce overhead for justification we start to see the real problem. Someone recently commented to me that to expect anything else is unrealistic, because there are too many people in most businesses. If a manager has recruited such an excess of people to do the work because they have designed the work ineffectively, perhaps the first headcount reduction should be the manager! I wonder how many managers would enter into a project knowing that at the end one of the management team would be made redundant? I think the answer is none! Yet many of these same people expect their staff to engage in continuous improvement or lean projects, sometimes with a stated aim of headcount reduction, ‘for the good of the business’.

If your business is engaged in a process improvement project that increases capacity, the current perspective of many managers is to say “I can do the same with less resource!”. Is that in the best interests of the business? Wouldn’t the shareholders be more impressed with “I can do more with the same resource!”. This is a more challenging aim, one that places more pressure on sales and management since they are the people who have to find and win the opportunities.

We need to change the mindset of managers from short term ‘protect what we have’ to long term growth and winning new business. Settling for what is there today isn’t what got the business set up and growing. Consider Toyota’s transformation. Ohno Taiichi was not tasked with making better weaving looms, the core business of Toyota, he was tasked with preparing the business for making cars.
The objective of the Toyota Production System was not the product of short term thinking. It was set up to enable the vision of mass car production with limited resources, to allow a weaving loom company to manufacture cars cost effectively. Given that aim, would Ohno Taiichi have been concerned about headcount reduction as he sought process improvement? I can’t see it, I believe he was driven to generate cash and resources for growth by focusing on the customers’ needs, and developing a system of work that involved and engaged all employees in improving the system of work.

So many times I have heard that we have to adopt the TPS and the Toyota Way. Why would you do that if you are not Toyota? The real problem is that we have a consumerist, pick and choose approach to improvement. There are fundamental differences in culture between Japan and the west. It’s not about using this tool or that tool, it’s not even about recruiting the right sort of people. Let’s take a simple example, the attitude to rules. In Japanese society I am told that rules are very important, often more important that principles. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that the Japanese are unprincipled, far from it, this is just about the Japanese attitude to rules. Even if they believe the rule is wrong, they will obey the rule, because they respect authority and the need for order and harmony. Now look at the west, and rules are made for breaking. How could we possibly expect to put in place rules and have them adhered to, no matter what, when our societal attitude is that rules are made for breaking? Principles on the other hand, are adhered to rigidly. So if we agree principles and then try to get someone to act in a way that is not aligned with their principles, they will adhere to the principle, often regardless of the cost.

So how do we compete with companies like Toyota? I don’t believe the answer to is to mimic them, I think the answer is to work out what we want to achieve and the principles we want to operate with along the way. If we treat people as disposable, they will treat the business as disposable. It becomes a marriage of convenience, with commitment until it is no longer fun. Then we move on to the next company. This generates a short term view of employment, success and results that is destructive in the long term. What is the point of a development process that may take 5 years if the people involved at the start will be gone before it delivers? Bear in mind here that Toyota have been developing the Toyota way for 70 years and are still refining their process and thinking. If we implement what Toyota do today without considering how that is supported, initially our organisation won’t be able to cope since the infrastructure and common belief system won’t exist, then we will lose ground on them tomorrow and every day after because improvement won’t be in our ‘business DNA’.

If you want your business to be like Toyota, I believe the first rule is don’t copy them. Copies are often pale imitations of the real thing. They lack authenticity and integrity. Most of all they lack the inherent self belief that what they are doing is right underpinned by a rigorous understanding of why they are doing  it. If you want your business to be like Toyota, first work out what your customers want. Then work out how you can meet that need and make money – what is your business like?. The answer isn’t like Toyota, your business can’t be like Toyota because it isn’t Toyota. Start with understanding what you want to achieve, then move on to the principles of how that will work, then consider if rules are an appropriate way to implement those principles in your society. Don’t demand action from your workforce, first demand that your management understands their role. Then start working through the business processes in a disciplined, scientific way to understand what every part of the business is trying to achieve. Once this is known compare what each department is trying to achieve with what the business objectives are – do they align?

Plan what must be done

Do what has been planned

Check that the activity delivered the expected results

Act on the results, reinforce the practices and activities that yield successful results, change the practices that are not aligned or don’t deliver success.

Then do it again.

Keep doing this until there is nothing that can be improved upon, wither by listening to other thought processes or by applying new knowledge

You see the pattern. If you do this you will develop your own way, tailored to your business and social environment. Then perhaps, if you are very disciplined, one day people will be talking about the {insert your company name here} Way. They may even prefer it to the Toyota Way. Who knows, you might get Toyota coming to learn from you. Toyota had the advantage of learning first hand from Deming, Juran and others. They had the presence of mind to write down much of what they were trying to convey, for which we should be grateful. Their guides are not a buffet of choices, they are hard practical realities, hard to understand and even harder to implement,

I was recently reminded of one of Dr Deming’s favorite quotes:

“American managers are stupid. They think all they have to do is copy from Japan, but they don’t know what to copy”

To be honest I think we can remove American managers and substitute Western managers.

I would add my own favourite Deming quote:

“You don’t have to change. Survival is not compulsory.”

Finding your own way is hard, but it is the only way to get to somewhere new and exciting.

One final point, if you ever do get to the point where you think nothing can be improved, get out there and start talking to people. You have missed something and if you don’t find it and use it your competitors will

Consulting

Lean Management, Lean Manufacturing or Lean Leadership?

Wherever you look in the world of Lean, people are talking about Lean Manufacturing. Lean manufacturing is going to revolutionise your business, even if you don’t manufacture anything, all you must do is apply the tools and you will see improvement. Is it really that simple? Did Toyota just wake up one day and say we will apply these tools and everything will be brilliant, or is there a little more to it?

Anyone who thinks it is just about the tools really hasn’t heard the lean message. You see, Lean is not a set of tools or just about the application of certain techniques, it is an approach to business and way of thinking that is very different to the normal thought processes present in modern business. Given that so many businesses are trying to replicate the work done by Toyota, it is worth taking a few minutes to consider how Toyota apply the concepts that are known as Lean in western manufacturing.

The original work on manufacturing as a process was done by Henry Ford when he moved the product through the production steps instead of moving the process steps to the product, and became the blueprint for automotive manufacturing. At the end of the second world war Ohno Taiichi was tasked by the head of the Toyoda family with changing the manufacturing basis of Toyota from weaving looms to car manufacturing. It was recognised that the existing automotive model of high stock would not work for Toyota, hence Taiichi was tasked with developing a manufacturing process that could deliver the variety of features required without holding massive stock levels. One aspect of this that is often missed is that Ohno Taiichi was tasked with creating a uniquely Japanese model of manufacturing.

This is entirely consistent with the aims of the Meiji restoration, where the Japanese industrial revolution sought to adopt modern thinking, technology and methods that were aligned with Japanese values. In the author’s opinion, this is a vital consideration when trying to understand the Toyota phenomenon. At the end of the second world war, the Japanese had to rebuild their manufacturing base and industrial experts including Deming, Juran and Fiegenbaum went to Japan to help restore their economy, all at the time that Toyota were looking to develop their manufacturing process. This amounts to a powerful opportunity with unprecedented drive for change.

In 2001 Fujio Cho was president of Toyota and he launched ‘The Toyota Way’, which built on the previous work and created a clear structure to explain the concepts and provide a framework for success.

The five core values employed by The Toyota Way are as follows

1. Challenge : to maintain a long term vision and strive to meet all challenges with the courage and creativity needed to realise that vision

2. Kaizen : to strive for continuous improvement. As no process can ever be declared perfect, there is always room for improvement.

3. Genchi Genbutsu : to go to the source to find the facts to make correct decisions, build consensus and achieve goals

4. Respect : to make every effort to understand others, accepts responsibility and does its best to build mutual trust

5. Teamwork : to share opportunities for development and maximise individual and team performance

Is this lean manufacturing? It doesn’t sound like it to me, it sounds more like a management philosophy than a set of process tools, so perhaps we should be thinking more about management than simply manufacturing. The Toyota Way seeks to deploy the thinking well beyond manufacturing, applying the thinking to the whole organisation.

Taking a moment to consider the implications of these values we find that there are certain elements that must be recognised for Toyota’s success to be replicated.

Toyota are looking at a long-term goal with long-term planning. That doesn’t mean that short term needs are ignored, just that there is a difference between short-term or tactical activities and the long-term strategic changes that must be made. Throughout the organisation there is a recognition that long-term improvements are of higher value than short term benefits.

Similarly, there is a focus on continuous improvement of all processes, however the prioritisation of projects is based on a rational assessment of the business needs. The focus of Kaizen is to recognise the opportunity for improvement at both the tactical and strategic level, embracing new ways of thinking and working to achieve long-term benefit for the business.

going to see the problem at source, to find the facts to enable correct decisions to be made. It has been suggested that lean does not encompass systems thinking, however I believe it is clear from the first three values that systems thinking must be at work to enable the values to blend effectively.

Respect is an interesting topic. To whom should we show respect? It seems that often respect is confused with ill-discipline. I disagree with that view, lean teaches respect for the individual, for the supply chain including both customers and suppliers, governmental bodies, and the communities within which we work and live. If someone’s performance is unacceptable, you show them respect by telling them of the fact, not by ignoring their behaviour.

Teamwork does not mean silo behaviour. Teamwork means all aspects of the organisation collaborating to deliver the customer’s needs. I use the word collaborating deliberately. Co-operation results in each party yielding the minimum it can to gain agreement from another party to enable its needs to be delivered. In co-operation, I win you lose. Collaboration on the other hand requires all parties to be open with their needs and then for the team to work together to deliver as many of those requirements as possible.

Spear and Bowen proposed the 4 rules of the Toyota Production System in their Harvard Business Review Article.

Rule 1 : All work shall be highly specified as to content, sequence, timing, and outcome.

Rule 2 : Every customer-supplier connection must be direct, and there must be an unambiguous yes-or-no way to send requests and receive responses

Rule 3 : The pathway for every product and service must be simple and direct

Rule 4 : Any improvement must be made in accordance with the scientific method under the guidance of a teacher, at the lowest possible level of the organisation.

Now we are starting to see the errors in western implementation. Too often organisations seek to implement so called lean to achieve a reduction in costs and headcount, without a long-term vision of what the organisation wants to achieve.

Organisations then seek to implement lean exactly as the Japanese have done, without recognising the cultural differences, much less addressing them in line with long-term objectives.

The approach is reduced to the application of a series of disconnected tools without a coherent strategy for learning and developing knowledge.

The consequence is a confused piecemeal implementation with no coherent strategy. When this fails, the organisation will often blame the employees who have been diligently trying to implement a series of tools without a recognisable framework or set of common goals. Competition and conflict are commonplace in this environment and everyone strives to deliver disparate objectives and sometimes conflicting requirements all with short-term goals and often under immense pressure to succeed.

There is also intolerance of failure, and no recognition that lean aims to fail better next time rather than to be perfect next time. Implementations are often required in under two years to achieve that which Toyota have taken 50 years to achieve and are still working on.

Six sigma is treated as a different discipline to lean, with its origins in Motorola. It is worth noting Spear and Bowen’s rule 4 above. You cannot implement lean without embracing the scientific method. Scientific method requires data and evidence, to demonstrate improvement there must be clear evidence of a change, to clearly evidence a change one must employ statistical methods to demonstrate a significant change. Why then is there so much animosity between lean and six sigma? They are different approaches to the same objective. Scientific method also requires recognition of the system within which the process operates.

Lean manufacturing then, would seem to be a recipe for disaster, lean management is a vast improvement, however to achieve the most significant benefits from a lean deployment it is necessary to use lean leadership to succeed. Lean leadership also needs to recognise that the culture of both the organisation and the wider society within which it operates is relevant to how lean is developed, implemented and managed. Are you developing a lean implementation which is based on uniquely Japanese cultural values, or are you developing a lean implementation based on the relevant social values for your organisation and location?

In summary, the message for lean leadership seems to be don’t try to copy. Instead, understand the principles upon which Toyota succeeded and adapt them to your social, cultural and business situation. Understand your long-term vision for your organisation, then develop the strategies and make choices that are rigorously aligned with your strategy. Then you have a chance of succeeding if you stay true to your principles and work very hard at adapting the principles to your application.

As Deming has said, you don’t have to change, survival is not compulsory.