All entries for Wednesday 09 October 2013

October 09, 2013

The group work (and MBE learning environment)

Just a quick blog, but whilst reading a very exciting chapter of Deming's 'Out of the Crisis', my mind began to wander to the theme from today's class of time management and the MBE learning environment.


Some people, including myself, are daunted by the amount of study hours we have to do! In comparison to my undergraduate degree, I never had 11 hours or more of classes a week at uni (and sure I was supposed to do private study as well as that) but here at WMG, I am in for 11 hours a day at uni!!! Secondly, a few people have publicaly expressed doubts over the MBE learning environment, criticising the fact they are not lectured and have to do all this private studying and research along with working in their groups for the mini projects.


I don't know about you, but I would be a lot less inclined to do all this private studying and reading of Deming's books (along with other journals etc) if it was not for the fact I am in a group with five other people I really do not want to let down! Add to the fact that if I were in lectures every minute of every day I would potentially kill myself (metaphorically of course) and would certainly not spend my evenings reading more about the subject area!


So I have to say in this blog, I am really enjoying the MBE learning environment so far, and I am finding it much more fulfilling than any other form of education I have currently had. Now to stop procrastinating on this impromptu blog and get back to Deming's book...


The Deming Wheel

During a meeting today ahead of one of our groups presentations, we developed the themes and ideas we'd explore in our PowerPoint slides. One theme that we had researched and practically explains what we are suggesting is the 'Deming Wheel'. The 'Deming Wheel' consists of four themes, to Plan, Do, Check and Act when developing a process within an organisation. The question we were looking to answer was what are the problems with a management meeting focused on production volume vs production targets. This question quite simply focuses on Demmings 'Plan' - the production target - and Deming's 'Do' - , making a certain volume of the product. However, it fails to take any consideration of arguably the two most important aspects when focussed on achieving business excellence, 'Check' and 'Act'.


This is because firstly, there is no understanding on why the volume produced happened. The focus is solely on meeting targets rather than understanding how the process came about. For example, this month's volume produced may be lower than last months and/or may be lower than the target volume, which would imply under a target vs volume scenario an unsatisfactory result. However, this may not be due to a lack of efficiency or productivity. There could have been supply based issues, issues with manaufacturing equipment breaking down or a month with higher holiday time than the previous month. Therefore, there is no analysis or 'Check' of what caused this month's volume produced.


Secondly, there is no 'Act' either by the organisation to look at improving the process. The organisation is solely focused on results, not the processes that make those results. The production targets could be impossible to achieve in the first place, or in another scenario could be too easy to achieve! The organisation has failed to analyse the processes they have carried out, and determine an appropriate base of action to further improve them.


I felt that Deming's Wheel was a useful tool to practically illustrate how an organisation can better analyse it's processes, and can lead to better results and understanding in the future.


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