Willingness to report quality problems
Norm Howe
33 Posts

Does anyone have recent data on the % of employees who are willing to report quality problems in their organizations?

23 Replies
At Midco International, 100%. The people in the shop floor report problems when the find them. Between QA and Production, we find solutions. Engineering also gets involved when they're needed for approval on changes which includes drawing changes.
Unwillingness to report problems is a fundamental Management issue - evidence that reporters are punished rather than rewarded or at least that the expectation is that we are always at 100%. Management must always establish that reporting of problems is a requirement and then ensure that problems are addressed and resolved such that they dont recur.
One of the easiest audit finding against management to identify during interviews.
Luigi Sille
122 Posts

I'am the Quality Manager at the Red Cross Blood Bank Foundation. I can say we report 100% of problems and or issues. It took us 10 years to get there. A complete change. To change an Organizational Culture it takes time, trust, and stop the blame game. In stead of punishing employees, reporting problems is a win win situation. You get data to improve your system, and management can invest in upgrading employees, the TEAM. This is a HUGE change, and it takes time.

Hi Norm,

You have raised an interesting question and the replies reflect what most mangers believe. Aware employees do not want to do a bad job, so problems are reported. But, I don't think that is the problem. People have to first notice the situation, then perceive it as a problem, record that it exists and the circumstances under which it exists, THEN they can report the “quality problem” in a meaningful way. If employees are not at least “consciously competent” it is almost impossible for them to notice situations that should be raised as problems.

Best regards,

Greg

nice point Gregory,

I am also agree with you that having the competence and understanding the required specification will enurmosly help correct reports of quality issues. It also saves a lot energy and time of management to be more productive. It is all bonded with and also depended on high experience of the manager to define and train (even rehersal of the same training) the employee in the begining to avoid such difficulties with employee afterward.

Both Mr. Husman and Mr. Watson make very good points. In my organization, we don't have very good statistics on the number of employees that report problems. We try, but as Mr. Watson stated, how do you account for the employees that don't notice issues. In my tenure at my current organization (10+ years) the culture is fostered from the senior levels of management to report.

The only times I have ever seen any disciplinary action was for not reporting and at the same time, trying to cover it up.

For people that do report, I have seen the opposite. In one instance, we had some work as a subcontractor at a remote site for a prime. Our team made a mistake. They not only self-reported to us, they also did immediately to the prime's on site supervisor. It was a junior member of the team that made the mistake. And instead of just walking away and leaving it to someone else to potentially discover, they reported it to their supervisor, who in turn, did the right thing. And as part of that reporting, they already informed everyone of what they would do to rectify the problem. The prime was so pleased with them, that we got additional work from the prime, because of the trust our employees instilled with the prime's team. Again, all a matter of culture.

Dear All,

The concept of noticing, perceiving, and processing data was a major discussion point during the early 1999s in the field of social psychology. It was part of a conversation on the issues of situational awareness (noticing) as it was combined into sensemaking as the front end to problem analysis. We would do well to study the 1990's books of Karl Weick on this topic!

Best regards,

Greg

Gregory Watson:

Dear All,

The concept of noticing, perceiving, and processing data was a major discussion point during the early 1999s in the field of social psychology. It was part of a conversation on the issues of situational awareness (noticing) as it was combined into sensemaking as the front end to problem analysis. We would do well to study the 1990's books of Karl Weick on this topic!

Best regards,

Greg

Dear Greg,

I totally agree with the noticing, perceiving issue. At least in my experience a los of my clients managers are not knowledgable regarding their processes and also lack the awareness in regards to then as well. In the last years, I have emphasized the observation, noticing, perceiving and awareness of the process issue with my clients. I will search the books of Karl Weick.

Thanks,

Luis

David Husman:
Unwillingness to report problems is a fundamental Management issue - evidence that reporters are punished rather than rewarded or at least that the expectation is that we are always at 100%. Management must always establish that reporting of problems is a requirement and then ensure that problems are addressed and resolved such that they dont recur.
One of the easiest audit finding against management to identify during interviews.

David,

Absolutely true. I have known many companies that doesn't have the conditions, rules and environment appropriate for reporting problems. It is a tough one getting managers to accept that.

Regards,

Luis

Some companies have stated goals of zero corrective actions. That is completely counter to effective quality management systems. Problems must be brought to light so that they can be addressed and fixed. If you don't fix them they will continue to cost money and cause harm to the organization. But managers will do what they are rewarded for, just like employees. Only top management can fix the failure to report issues. When the message is: "We don't want any corrective actions," the employees will comply.
Quality Management System shall be established to identify problems on weekly basis and Monthly Basis reporting system to higher level and distributed to concerned top authority to resolve/Fix the problems. All quality problems or areas of concerns shall be collected or captured for management review meeting or lessons learned documented. The PDCA cycle shall be used continuously in the QMS to avoid reoccur the same issues.

I see a reporting culture across organization while there is another issue with reporting, certain organizations the onus to followup on the closure of such reported issues is lies with reporter . This will surely affect the reporting culture.

Cynthia, your comment resonates and got my hair raised today. It brought back horrid memories of doing a 3rd party audit for a week where every single manager argued about anything raised as a Nonconformity. After the audit, I learned that the performance bonus for all of them was linked to having no NCs. How ridiculous! About $300K was at risk and is good reason for them to behave so badly. From the parking lot, I called the registrar I was working for and confirmed I would never waste another minute of my life auditing this company. The culture was toxic. I much prefer to work with individuals and companies who are open to feedback. You can't fix something you don't know about.

In contrast, several other clients were the opposite. In one, 578 people out of 800 had reported something to their corrective action system. The management said some likely should have gone directly to be a maintenance ticket, but they did not mind simplifying the process for the workers to have a single place to report.

The good examples from my clients outweigh the bad and I am very thankful for that.

Hello all. This is my first post.

How would you address a situation where when non-conformances occur while manufacturing a product, the production team does not report, but just fixes the issue to within specification or if they can't, they scrap the parts, then re-make them?

I agree that culture set by top management is the key here, but as noted in several other posts related to culture, it takes a long time to change people's way of thinking. Also, related to Luis' thread on Quality in Small Business, how do you promote a culture of reporting in small businesses where reporting significantly affects the bottom line? Small companies who are struggling with quality concepts I think are less likely to report as it can be costly.

Thanks and I appreciate any insight!

Kelly Gau
10 Posts

Hi Robert. You're right. This is all about culture. The first things that come to mind are the 1 - 10 - 100 rule, and Cost of (Bad) Quality. If people don't know these concepts, they won't follow them. Roughly, the 1 - 10 - 100 rule says it costs $1 to fix something in planning, $10 in development, and $100 in production. The Cost of Quality demonstrates that if quality is not built into processes by, in addition to many other factors, finding the root cause for errors to prevent them, it is very costly. In essence, it is most cost effective to have good quality because you will have less scrap, less down time, less errors, etc. In order to do that, the systems have to be put in place (a robust quality system including PMs, calibration, vendor management, CAPA, auditing, etc.) to get there. So to address it, I might suggest a case study, using a process you have. If you can demonstrate a 20 or 30% reduction in scrap can save the cost of implementing a system for training for performing root cause analysis… it's a step in the right direction.

Norm Howe
33 Posts

That's great. But how do you know that 100% get reported? I assume you have some kind of independent survey mechanism.

Norm Howe
33 Posts

Your company clearly has a culture of quality. However, your statement "The prime was so pleased with them, that we got additional work…” confirms my suspicion that you are rare.

Norm Howe
33 Posts

This can only be fixed by top mgt. In this case top mgt has chosen to stay blind to errors occurring in their process. Those errors cost money. The errors will continue until mgt requires root cause solutions. This company will eventually get beaten by their competition. Best to get out now.

Norm Howe
33 Posts

You may be right. However, I've heard anecdotally that 85% of employees in the US and Europe would not report a problem if they knew about it. That's surprising in my opinion and I would like to know if anyone has any hard data to support or deny that assertion.

To All:

I just want to make a brief observation on the idea of not having corrective action. This is actually a valid goal of a far-sighted DFM (Design for Manufacturability) team in which case their objective is to fully anticipate all of the areas where problems can occur to test the production system beyond its anticipated stress level (by at least 25% but not outside its safety envelope), learning what will fail first and safeguarding against it (poke-yoke or mistake-proofing). For those things that cannot be engineered out as potential failures, then a different strategy must be taken: identification of the triggers which create, activate, or enable the failure mechanism and then to create a tested countermeasure that can be applied in such a case. When this design rule is applied, then one need not go into a SDCA/PDCA approach to improvement, unless the newly observed situation does not respond to the engineered set of countermeasures. In this case there would be a design failure and the proper response would be to shut down the system and determine what is the root cause of the design failure. When acting as an industrial engineer in the design of new production lines, this is the approach that is taken for design. Operators then need to recognize what is the failure trigger and apply the countermeasures without initiating a time-wasting reinvestigation at each instance of a situation. Design things right from the beginning is the best way to deal with the situation - DBPA - Design by Preventive Action!

Best regards,

Greg