Sunday, June 11, 2017

Quality and Kaizen

Quality and Kaizen
Benjamin Franklin once said “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.  W. Edward Deming apparently took these words to heart as helped ignite a quality focused era.  Deming is often referred to as the father of quality because of his work on statistical quality control techniques and his belief in continual improvement of processes. During World War II, Deming taught courses on statistical quality improvement to engineers who worked for companies that were suppliers to the military and earned international recognition for his work. (Russell & Taylor III, 2014, p. 57) He later helped to launch the Japanese quality movement that paved the way for programs like Total Quality Management (TQM), Kaizen, and Six Sigma.  His belief that through statistics and measuring there could be a continuous improvement of process to achieve conformance and reduce variability can be demonstrated through his PDCA wheel or the now known Deming Wheel. (Plan-Do-Check-Act, 2015)   The Deming wheel is essentially a circular motion that follows the four steps of Plan, Do, Check and Act.  The effects of Deming’s work will be looked at closer through the exploration of cost quality and kaizen and how they apply to the hotel industry.
            According to Russell and Taylor, Deming believed that the consumer is the most important part of the business and that all quality goals needed to be aimed at the needs of the consumer. (Operations and Supply Chain Managment, 2014, p. 53)  This thought process has led to cost of quality beliefs and analysis to be at the forefront of process improvement.  Woods believes that the cost of quality is the cost of not creating a quality product. (Cost of Quality (COQ), 2015)  These costs can be broken down into internal and external failure costs. The internal costs such as scrapped work, work that has to be redone and items that have to be re-inspected make up prime areas that Deming’s work can have an impact on by setting up processes to prevent further defects or non-conformance issues. The external costs such as customer complaints, returned items, warranty recalls and avoidance of future purchases are harder to focus on but can be used to setup processes to improve conformance. (Russell & Taylor III, 2014, p. 84) By listening to the customer as Deming states is most important the company will be able to determine what quality controls need to be changed to ensure guest satisfaction. This could be completed through a lengthy six sigma project or through a continuous improvement process such as kaizen.
            Kaizen is essentially a continuous improvement process that can be linked to other programs such as six sigma or lean.  Kaizen focuses on small continuous changes and can be summed up best by three core principles.  The first principle is that a company’s employees are there most important asset. Secondly, process changes must be gradual and not radical so that measures of change can take place. The third principle is that improvement must be based on quantitative review of performance on different processes. (Hindle, 2009)  The first principle follows Deming’s belief that employees doing the job should be part of the improvement process since they can best identify needs and evaluate improvements since they are completing the tasks. They are able to see defects as they happen or they may see the ability to eliminate a step in processes based on daily efforts. The second principle that the changes must be gradual improvement works well so that employees do not feel overwhelmed although in today’s quick moving world of e-commerce Hindle believes that kaizen is dying because the processes cannot keep up with change. (Kaizen, 2009) This could however being an advantage since ecommerce is changing quickly the ability to continually improve needs to exist and what better way than to make small changes and monitor for effect before tweaking or implementing another small  process. The third principle could be summed up with the phrase “that which is not measured does not happen,” basically if there are not quantitative measures then neither success nor failure can be measured and improvements cannot be validated.  Ultimately, kaizen provides organizations with the ability to refine their operations.
            The hotel industry is able to refine operations through kaizen principles by working with employees to find ways of improving operation.  Areas where continuous improvement can be applied are in housekeeping cleanliness and guest satisfaction which will both have direct effects on cost of quality.  Kaizen can be applied to housekeeping cleanliness by talking with housekeepers and timing them on a regular basis. By monitoring productivity, rooms cleaned per shift, we can see which attendants are the quickest and talk with them about their process.  The need to ensure the rooms are free of defect must also be measured so cleanliness scores should be measured too. Therefore, the blended score of speed and cleanliness should be used for the basis of training all team members. Perhaps the result is that the most efficient cleaners have a system they repeat every room. They might walk in spray chemicals, then dust top to bottom left to right, make the bed, tidy, vacuum, go to bathroom where chemicals have chance to take affect and then clean bathroom before going to next room. If so, all housekeepers should be trained the same. The next step would be question if there was a way to become more efficient then implement and measure.
            This kaizen process could have a positive effect on hotel cost of quality because rooms are being cleaned more efficient, with reduced labor cost and improved quality scores. While there would be an immediate increase in labor for training, it should decrease overtime as the team becomes more efficient. Even a two cent reduction in cost per occupied room could have a monthly effect of eight thousand dollars on a six hundred room hotel running an eighty eight percent occupancy. The improved cleanliness scores could also reduce external cost of quality expenses since managers would have to handle less complaints and not refund guests for portions of their stay.  Based on this example it is believed that almost any business can apply kaizen principles to reduce their cost of quality expenses.
Hindle, T. (2009, April 14). Kaizen. Retrieved October 4, 2015, from The Economist:
Plan-Do-Check-Act. (2015, October 2). Retrieved from ASQ:
Russell, R., & Taylor III, B. (2014). Operations and Supply Chain Managment (Eighth ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
Wood, D. (2015, September 27). Cost of Quality (COQ). Retrieved from ASQ:

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