Vol. 10, No. 3

March 2008

PQ Systems

'Right First Time' finds new life in training

Quality Quiz: With a video!

Data in everyday life

Six Sigma

Bytes and pieces

FYI: Current releases


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‘Right First Time’ finds new life in training

When this classic British film first appeared some 50 years ago, it offered startlingly new views of quality management based on statistical analysis. Far from obsolete, the film’s message is key to understanding the role of data in improvement of processes and products, and especially in training quality professionals in this understanding.

It is in this training or consulting that the film is especially vital, according to PQ Systems president, Michael J. Cleary, Ph.D., since it opens the door to so many discussions. “Depending on where audience members are in their quality journeys, ‘Right First Time’ has something for everyone,” he says.

Among these ‘somethings’ are approaches to statistical process control (SPC), both for novices and experienced quality professionals; an opportunity for discussion of management styles, including that of W. Edwards Deming and others; evaluation of the teamwork demonstrated by the team problem-solving; and even discussion of differences that derive from time and place. An entire discussion about the differences between prevention and detection can be stimulated by the film, for example.

Questions to stimulate discussion in training sessions might include: How did the team comply with W. Edwards Deming’s 14 Points for Managers? How would Joseph Juran evaluate the management team, on a 10-point scale? What “keys to success” are demonstrated in the film? How could a different approach by the supplier generate a co-operative relationship, rather than an adversarial one?

In the film, managers are shocked to find that quality costs, derived from waste and defect, represent between 15 and 20 percent of factory costs—something that comes as no surprise to audiences 50 years later, but provides food for reflection and discussion as managers try to reduce quality costs in their own organizations. An example of an exercise that can be used in training involves listing all the problems that the firm encountered, the solutions that the team came up with, and potential other ways of addressing the problems. Cleary points out that writing these items down will facilitate sharing reflections about the film in discussion.

Since the film is nearly a half-century old, its black-and-white format offers a quaint vision of manufacturing some years ago. More powerfully, though, it provides dramatic illustration that quality principles are not new or trendy, and that they must be actually applied in order to derive their full benefit. Various ways of stating the principles may come and go through decades of attention to quality improvement, but the basic approach remains the same regardless of what it may be called.


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