The Goals That Matter: SQDCM | Mark Graban

See on Scoop.itlean manufacturing

Blog post at Lean Blog : “Today is the start of the 2014 World Cup, which means much of the world will be talking about goals.I’m not really a soccer, I mean football, fan but I’m all for goals. In the Lean management system, we generally have five high-level goals. These were the goals taught to us in the auto industry, where I started my career, and they apply in healthcare.”


Michel Baudin‘s comments:

As I learned it, it was “Quality, Cost, Delivery, Safety, and Morale” -(QCDSM) rather than SQDCM. I am not sure the order matters that much. The rationale for grouping Quality, Cost, and Delivery is that they matter to customers, while Safety and Morale are internal issues of your organization, visible to customers only to the extent that they affect the other three.

They are actually dimensions of performance rather than goals. “Safety,” by itself, is not a goal; operating the safest plants in your industry is a goal. In management as taught in school, if you set this goal, you have to be able to assess how far you are from it and to tell when you have reached it. It means translating this goal into objectives that are quantified in metrics.

In this spirit, you decide to track, say, the number of consecutive days without lost time accidents, and the game begins. First, minor cuts and bruises, or repetitive stress, don’t count because they don’t result in the victims taking time off. Then, when a sleeve snagged by a machine pulls an operator’s hand into molten aluminum, the victim is blamed for hurting the plant’s performance.

Similar stories can be told about Quality, Cost, Delivery and Morale, and the recent scandal in the US Veterans’ Administration hospitals shows how far managers will go to fix their metrics.

To avoid this, you need to reduce metrics to their proper role of providing information an possibly generating alarms. In health care, you may measure patients’ temperature to detect an outbreak of fever, but you don’t measure doctors by their ability to keep the temperature of their patients under 102°F, with sanctions if they fail.

Likewise, on a production shop floor, the occurrence of incidents is a signal that you need to act. Then you improve safety by eliminating risks like oil on the floor, frayed cables, sharp corners on machines, unmarked transportation aisles, or inappropriate motions in operator jobs. You don’t make the workplace safer not by just rating managers based on metrics.

In summary, I don’t see anything wrong with SQDCM as a list. It covers all the dimensions of performance that you need to worry about in manufacturing operations, as well as many service operations. Mark uses it in health care, but it appears equally relevant in, say, car rental or restaurants. I don’t see it as universal, in that I don’t think it is sufficient in, for example, research and development.

And, in practice, focusing on SQDCM  easily degenerates into a metrics game.

See on

3 comments on “The Goals That Matter: SQDCM | Mark Graban

  1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Michel. Sure, these aren’t going to be the only five “true north” things that matter or the top five for any software business. And, they’re probably more directions than goals. You’re right that these need to be turned into measures… and they can’t just become something that “degenerates” into meaningless targets or quotas (like the waiting time scandal with the VA). Part of the inspiration for my post is seeing hospitals that barely give lip service to safety… what they’re really measuring and really caring about is cost, cost, cost. That’s not right.

  2. Wonderful insight Michel. I find your idea of not using metrics to evaluate Managerial performance and appraisals quite revolutionary. Metrics should instead deployed as weapons of process correction to attack at the root cause of the symptom.

    However I would also acknowledge QDC as very effective and essential measures of process health. Especially in Manufacturing operations. As far as Safety is concerned, focus on Quality does mandate a safe working environment. So i don’t see any logic in measuring safety as a process health.

    As far as Morale is concerned it is the fundamental base to the operations to be built by the Leadership.

    Also you are right in your fear that focusing on SQDCM degenerates into a metric game- but I feel that degeneration is cause of lack of Leadership. Policies are decided by the leadership and if leaders want to go by rank and yank its their choice.

    • This view of metrics may be revolutionary, but I did not come up with it. It was a key part of Deming’s thinking.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *