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28 February 2007      

The Psychology of Statistical Process Control

How SPC Affects people & Why It Works In Any Environment

"If only those operators would pay attention!" How many times have you heard this? It seems like such a simple problem but it rarely gets fixed.

"Awareness" is a very profound concept and a major concern for (among others) Eastern philosophers and fighter pilots. It is also important for manufacturing.

One effect of SPC is increased awareness and focus when operators collect and analyze their own data. It also enhances teamwork, commitment and involvement. These psychological effects translate into enhanced quality, productivity and employee satisfaction.

Edwards Deming was first to recognize SPC's psychological effects and he leveraged them with his TQM philosophy. Six Sigma does the same.

Contrary to many assumptions, SPC applies to basic, manual, low-tech processes such as manual assembly. Nor is the SPC itself difficult or complex. I have personally taught the basics to people who could not operate a 4-function calculator but went on to prevent serious rework.

Our latest web page, The Psychology of SPC,  presents a true story from my experience as a Plant Manager. It illustrates how to harness the power of the conscious and unconscious minds of your operators for real business benefits. All this is a bit philosophical but also very real. I hope you enjoy the tale.

Best Regards,

Quarterman Lee

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