Monday, July 23, 2018

Closed Loop - How to make a Quality Product

I am coaching a newer company on how to produce high quality products.  I figured it was easier to write this blog entry where it might have use to other people than just send it in an email to them.

One lesson I learned years ago by going through ISO9000 certification is closed loop.  Every failure needs to be analyzed and the root cause solved.  Simply fixing the problem for one customer is not enough.

There at 4 main sources of feedback that can be used for the closed loop.

1 - Customer service calls and emails.  If a customer has to call, we have failed.  What about our product is not intuitive.  I dislike manuals (people never read them anyways) but does the manual need to be improved?  Or the labelling?  (one example of this is people returning portable air conditioners not knowing they need to vent to the outside).  Or does the website or video need to be simplified.

Of course you help the individual customer but how do you make it so less people call?

2 - Product returns.  Most product returns are what is called "buyer remorse" in the industry.  People buy it and do not want it once they get it out of the box.  Again - why.  Fix the reason.  Fixing, replacing or destroying the product that is returned

3 - Customer reviews and social media.  More customers review poor products than winners.  Customers have the expectation of perfect products.  Satisfaction has to do with expectations.  Listen to what they say online.  If they are unhappy, there is validity to it.

4 - Customer feedback and focus groups.  There is nothing like speaking to a real user of your product to get the straight goods about what you sell.

A good closed loop system works well with a 5 why's program.  Using why again an again to determine the real issue.  Usually the first why is not the right answer.

Simple is good.  Target products to people on the assumption they lack expertise and have little patience to learn.

Insatiable curiosity if the mark of a good company.  It is a good way to approach product quality.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Air Conditioner Shortage...and Time to Think.

I am keenly aware of the weather.  I garden (not as much as I should though - my garden at the office got away from me).  I also do walking meeting and on days when I have no walking meetings, I usually walk outside.

Danby Appliances has a window and portable air conditioning business.  I know - not really appliances but they have compressors just like fridges and freezers so we sell them. 

The air conditioning business is boom or bust.  In a hot, humid year like this one, we sell out and everyone is upset we do not have more to sell.  In a cool year, we end up taking them back from retailers and incurring huge freight and storage charges. 

The seasonality is hard on the business.  It stresses everything from shipping capacity, service, and customer service.  One principle of successful business is 100% utilization of resources.  Seasonal business makes that more difficult.

I read an awesome book by Dan Pontefract called "Open to Think; Slow down, Think Better and Make Better Decisions". 

I think the reason it resonates with me is I know at some level, I lead too busy of a life.  I also know this impacts my ability to think long term.

We have become a Twitter world.  Our attention span is 140 characters.  We need the adrenaline of another email or text notification.  Technology has reduced our attention spans.  I have noticed even I read many less books than I once did - because a book is long unlike a quick hit article.

I realize my biggest issue is time.  And the best thing I can do to gain more slow time or thinking time is to say NO more.  I am not yet good at that.

To become slower or build in more space, I need to do less things.  There is a concept a good friend shared called plug-unplug.  Your capacity is limited like a power bar.  There are only so many outlets to plug into.  Take on a new project - figure out what you need to unplug.

There is a good section on critical thinking that is scary.  In the world of social media, fake news travels fast.  And people read only the headlines - not the story.  They are so fast, they hit the share button without even understanding the issue.  This lack of critical thinking has impacted the news and media that has impacted politics.  Having "space" or time to think can help with critical thinking.

As a CEO, this book is impactful.  I realize my biggest impact comes by thinking long term.  And most of the urgent items I deal with on an hourly basis are short term.  What I took away from this book was I need to clear my schedule a bit and build in some time to think. 

I suffer from guilt when I do not feel I am 100% productive.  But I know I have substituted busyness for productivity so I feel like I am doing something.

So - looking forward to leading a slower, more thoughtful life.

Worried the grandkids are too busy and not taking time to think...