October 26, 2007

Operations Management Lesson 10 Exercise

Create a new entry in your Blog using the subject ‘Operations management Lesson 10 Exercise’.


Apply some of the analytical tools within this lesson to a new situation. You might identify a system failure (or a risk) and use tools such as why-why and fishbone charts to analyse the situation. If you want to take this further, see if you can devise poka-yokes.

The topic chosen for this blog is the monthly meetings that I usually do with my colleagues, to analyze the business performance in terms of the negotiations won or lost, ongoing campaigns and possible proposals to customers.

These meetings are crucial, as we analyze the context in which we operate, we try to understand how we are moving on the market, how to meet customer needs and if the bids we present are correct.
In other words we analyse if we are moving in the wrong way (and therefore we have to change something), or if we are operating in the right way.


Usually, the applied methods are two: the “cause-effect” diagrams and the “ Why-Why “ analysis; we choose between the two methods depending on  the subject we are focuse on: for example when focusing on marketing campaigns
we use the why-why analysis in order to see how the most important customers respond (or potentially could respond), when facing customer problems (for example HW or SW related issues)  we use the cause-effect diagrams.

Let's give a quick definition of the two methods used:

  • Why-why Analysis start by stating the problem and why that problem has occurred; once the major reason for the problem occurring have been identified, each of the major reason is taken in turn and again the question is asked why those reason have occurred and so on. By doing so we create a kind of question chain, that end with the identification of the root problem.

  • Cause-effect diagrams: this is a particularly effective method for helping to search for the root cause problems. We are used to doing this by asking what, when, where, how and why questions.

    Let’s now give an example of a why-why analysis done for evaluating a SW campaign

    blog lesson 10 (why-why)v2

    blog_lesson_10_why-whyv2.jpg

    While a “cause-effect” diagram for a customer who is having issues in  recovering data an IBM integrated system, could be as follows:

    blog lesson 10 (cause-effect)
    blog_lesson_10_cause-effect.jpg

    as it comes out from the diagram the no data recovery issue could be solved in deeper analysing the possible root causes, such as Server failure, Sw failure, wrong utilization of IBM system by customer personnel.

    One more example of why-why analysis is the assessment of every tender that has been done even if we lost it, because:

    • In case of lost, we can identify the mistakes in order not to repeat them, and to understand our weaknesses in order to change them in strengths (perhaps learning from the competition).
    • In case of win: we can check if everything was gone in the right direction or if there was something that we could improve.

    During this meeting a key support it is given by a check list (that we consider as a Poka-Yoka device), that helps me to remember all the steps that I have to follow, this in order not to forget the slightest detail.


    Zoe Radnor (2007); «Operation Management »;Warwick Business school

    N. Slack, S. Chsmbers, R. Johnston, A. Betts; «Operation and Process Management »; Prentice Hall

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