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Built-in Quality, Beer & Brewdog (#24)


Today’s subject: Quality Sensitivity


Here I am, working hard for you at the intersection of lean & craft beer. It’s a rough job but, that’s right, I stepped up to the plate.


Those who follow me on twitter @leansempai will know that I’ve an occasional taste for craft beer. In fact, every couple of months a globally sourced mix of beers nestles on the Sempai doorstep ready for appreciation. Whilst reading the accompanying magazine from the last case (shown in the picture heading this blog), I spotted a lean opportunity to elaborate on Built-in Quality.


Built-in Quality is a deeply misunderstood Toyota Production System (TPS) pillar cheapened by the Western world’s insistence on tritely summarising it as “Quality is everyone’s responsibility”. I’ll not argue that point except to remind you that if everyone owns it, chances are that nobody does. “It” is indeed the crux of the problem…but that’s for another day.


James Watt of Brewdog is building a formidable craft beer business and clearly understands Quality Assurance more deeply than some of our industrial giants. The truth is that Built-in Quality or, more deeply, Jikoutei Kanketsu (JKK) (self process completion, Built-in Quality with Ownership) is about:


(a) In dull technical speak…translating your design intent through certain drawing transfer into mass production via strong process control.

(b) In English…making sure that what you intended your product/service to turn out like, happens, by building a process where quality is assured at source because you thought hard about what you had to control to stop stuff going wrong at each stage.


Back to James Watt and his 10 beer “taster training exam” described in the photo below: This is part and parcel of understanding that trying to Physically Assure (error-proof / poka-yoke) everything is an expensive, technically flawed, fool's errand. Creating an overlapping, integrated Human Assurance (the skilled person) and Physical Assurance network of error prevention, error spotting, defect prevention & flow-out prevention is pretty powerful.


Brewdog are showing a conscious effort to invest in the skills of their people so that they understand the standard and can sense deviation away from it. This is a part of Human Assurance, doubtless backed up by some fancy process control kit within the brewing process. 


In a nutshell, whether you produce beer, bicycles or big data, it's about developing Quality Sensitivity & Quality Mind in your people. This creates the skill and desire to locate abnormalities (that may lead to defects) and defects themselves rather than expecting someone or something to catch the bad ones at the end of the process. Ownership, you might say.


I’ve done a lot of work on this over the years and I'm grateful for my 10 years working with Toyota Group clients in terms of understanding how to simply & practically Build-in Quality at source.


On a lighter note, all of this reminded me of this randomly inserted milk-tasting contest scene in one of my favourite cult movies “Napoleon Dynamite”. In spite of his many socially awkward challenges, Napoleon clearly has a Quality Sensitivity when it comes to dairy products. I guess he's lactose defect intolerant.


Thanks

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