Championing a zero-defect standard in an ever-changing process

 

To continue providing world class products and services to clients, the executive management group set a company-wide zero-defect standard. The core objective of this initiative is to achieve a zero-defect execution of skid design, fabrication, delivery, and commissioning on all projects at  JCS Process & Control Systems.   At the beginning, the goal seemed lofty, and if you’re a skeptic, it might seem unattainable due to the level of customization that JCS systems have. Usually, the systems are comprised of over 500+ components, all having to function together to produce multiple variations of products with very specific requirements and parameters.  There is nothing but the certainty of error to occur during a project life-cycle with these odds.  So how do we do it?  That is a question that I asked over-and-over again to set the zero-defect internal mindset at JCS.

Naturally, the only way to eat the elephant before us is one bite at a time, and each participant on our team needs to be fully invested with this initiative if we want to increase the chances of reaching our goal. As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and practitioner, I have had many projects over the last decade to improve processes, eliminate waste, reduce errors, and increase profitability for a few organizations.  I’ll be the first to admit that to completely eliminate defects on such complex projects is impossible. But, increase a sigma level a couple of points, as well as increase the turnaround time for skid delivery, are more attainable goals.

This seemed like too daunting of a challenge for our core group of talent at JCS.  So why do it?  I soon realized that the end game of the project was not the result of a zero-defect mindset, but it was the process where it counts the most.  The mindset was a challenge to empower JCS employees to find a way.  Nothing is off-the-table when it comes to participation and coordination. As we work through and find issues, we are researching opportunities for growth and improvement.  Communication and tools between cross-functional teams are created and improved while evaluating issues in a project life-cycle.  The best outcome to the zero-defect standard is the complete support from management to bolster employees to find and contribute solutions to seemingly difficult, if not impossible, problems.  There is nothing that is held back or discouraged in this corporate journey.

JCS has a talent pool that consists of some of the best educated engineers in the country.  There is nothing that we don’t tackle or explore to make things better, and there is no reason for us not to tap into the potential talent to reach the highest goals set for us by management.  It is hard to say no to a president who has built a company from challenging what others thought was impossible 30 years ago, and has proved it is not only possible, but practical. At JCS, the impossible became our everyday standard today. We are digging in, evaluating our successes and losses, and adjusting our mindset to accomplish a zero-defect standard to our processes.  The main truth to this corporate expectation is that the only person to hold us back from attaining it is ourselves.  As for myself, I have become a believer that the way a team plays determines its success, and at JCS, we work to accomplish zero-defect standards.

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About the author

Field Services Manager - Lean Six Sigma Black Belt responsible for managing and leading the Field Service team in all aspects of day-to-day operation providing continuous and sustainable improvements, as well as growth through direct management and program development. I am also responsible for building and improving upon the field service organization’s capabilities and training, working with other internal functional managers to ensure successful project delivery, as well as our company's existing and prospective customer base.