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Planning for Failure: HOQ vs. FMEA

April 29th, 2008 by Peter Wolfe

Chain about to breakYou’ve probably heard the old adage, “If you fail to plan, then you’re planning to fail.” That sentiment is certainly echoed in the basic principles of the Quality Function Deployment (QFD) methodology. There is another old adage concerning failure that, although not quite as recognized, is just as true: “Fail to mitigate failure and you will succeed in minimizing success.” (Okay, so it isn’t really an old adage. I just made it up. However, you have to admit, it does sound rather catchy, and it does convey the underlying precept fairly well.) This maxim (regardless of how it is worded) is similarly echoed by the tenets of Quality Function Deployment.

So then, the question arises–what is the best tool for prioritizing steps to mitigate potential failures: Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) or the House of Quality (HOQ) tool? Coming from a Quality Function Deployment enthusiast, my answer may surprise you…

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Category: History of QFD, House of Quality, Advice, Voice of the Customer, DFSS, Quality Function Deployment, QFD, CTQ, CTC, FMEA | 18 Comments »

Where Did QFD Get Its Terrible Name?

January 5th, 2008 by James Grover



What’s in a name? While Shakespeare may have been correct in observing that “that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, most people would not know what you were talking about if you referred to it as a “bee leaf pollen perch”.

Similarly, the name “Quality Function Deployment” gives little hint as to what the tool actually is or what purpose it serves. So why is its name so perplexing? The answer lies in two main issues…

First, “Quality Function Deployment” was originally created by two Japanese professors back in the 1960’s (Drs. Yoji Akao and Shigeru Mizuno). Thus, the process was originally given a Japanese name, which was later translated into English. The original Japanese name, “Hin-shitsu Ki-no Ten-kai”, was translated quite litterally into the name “Quality Function Deployment”. Although the name supposedly carries with it a more intuitive meaning in Japanese, it doesn’t seem to have the same readily apparent meaning in English.

Additionally, the term “QFD” is used by many people today to refer to a series of “House of Quality” matrices strung together to define customer requirements and translate them into specific product features to meet those needs. However, these prioritization matrices were only a small part of the system that Drs. Akao and Mizuno originally created. (See “What is the House of Quality? Why it isn’t a QFD?” at qfdi.org for more information on this topic.) Thus, the application of the term “QFD” has changed over the course of the past 30+ years as well. Even though much was lost in translation from its Japanese name, “Quality Function Deployment” was a much more apropos name for the system of processes originally created by Akao and Mizumo than it is for the derivative tool that it has come to refer to today.

Category: History of QFD, House of Quality, Quality Function Deployment, QFD | 7 Comments »