In my last post I stated that when it comes to how people and organizations use data along their quality journey, we are on a developmental journey. We master one stage before we go to the next. In the first stage we use data to guard our customers and our brands from our mistakes. While this is necessary and important, there are many things we can do with data in subsequent stages that bring even greater value to the organization.

Stage 2: Guide – React to special causes

As you move into the second stage, you shift from merely protecting the customer (and yourself) from your mistakes, and begin responding to special causes. In Stage 2, you begin to anticipate problems because you’re asking new questions. Instead of asking: “Is this good enough?” you begin asking: “Has anything changed? Is this process stable?” This is a new mind set. We call it the Guide stage because you’re using the voice of the process to guide your efforts.

If you’ve mastered Stage 1: Guard, this is an easy, natural progression, You don’t need any additional software or hardware. You will probably start collecting some new data, and you’ll turn on some additional features in GainSeeker Suite. If you aren’t already, you’ll start looking at real-time control charts, and using a variety of KPI dashboards.

You’ll also begin training your people. The great thing is that this no longer needs to be a mass conversion and training program. Send a few users through our eLearning course “Fundamentals for Understanding GainSeeker Suite” and then get them into the software. Start small, and coach them with new questions, and teach them as you go. Chances are good that you’ll get some early wins that build credibility and confidence. Get these lucky few pioneers to help bring the others along. Begin to expand after you have a few people up to speed and getting results.

In Stage 2, the stakes are a lot higher because we’re taking a huge swat at scrap and rework. Depending on the operation, it isn’t uncommon to see paybacks in less than a year, what we call “Bulldozer Margins.”

In the next post I’ll introduce Stage 3: Gain. But for now, what about you? Do you have an interesting story of how your organization transformed from Guard to Guide? Do you have any tips you’d like to share about the process? Post your comments below, or write to me at ejmiller [at] hertzler [dot] com. I’d love to hear from you.