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Saving Time by Voting Blind

May 10th, 2008 by Joseph P. Merts

businessman with his hands over his eyesThe Quality Function Deployment (QFD) process is probably the most effective methodology available for capturing and responding to the “voice of the customer”. Few people dispute the effectiveness of QFD, but many people express concerns about its efficiency. Although the tools of QFD are extremely valuable for prioritizing product and/or service development efforts, they can be arguably cumbersome. In fact, many management teams that implement a QFD process end up abandoning it after a few months due to the time requirements of following such a rigorous methodology. Although the time saved by reducing unnecessary course corrections far outweighs the additional overhead of implementing Quality Function Deployment, there is definitely a significant upfront time investiture associated with the process. However, there are several time saving procedures that QFD teams can utilize to significantly decrease the arduousness associated with the methodology. One particularly beneficial time saver is that of “voting blind”.

The Blind Leading the…

Blind voting is a relatively simple procedure that helps to optimize the process of creating and maintaining a series of House of Quality (HOQ) matrices. It is intended to reduce the time investment of the team as a whole by optimizing the face-to-face meeting time between participants.

Generally, the individuals involved in filling out these Houses of Quality are key stake holders whose time is scarce and expensive. Scheduling meetings between such stake holders is often a challenging task due to conflicting schedules. However, QFD is essentially a collaborative process. In order for a Quality Function Deployment to be effective, key stake holders must be involved in creating these Houses of Quality, not just in reviewing them. Much of the value associated with a QFD is gained by the very process of talking through differences of opinion and/or differences in understanding. So, the dilemma then is how to secure the time needed for these key leaders to meet together to populate the relevant HOQ matrices.

Voting blind helps to optimize this face-to-face time by having stake holders enter their ratings “offline” (i.e. on their own time) for a given House of Quality. A single individual then compiles the responses from the various stake holders into a single House of Quality with any non-unanimous rating values highlighted. These stakeholders then meet together solely for the purpose of discussing and resolving discrepancies between their ratings.

Benefits

This method of “voting” helps to reduce the onerous demands that are placed on stake holders involved in a QFD initiative by providing the following benefits:

  • Flexibility - It allows stake holders to accomplish much of their QFD-related work on their own time and at their own convenience.
  • Meeting Effectiveness – It helps QFD meetings focus on discussion rather than documentation. (No one likes to sit in a lengthy meeting watching someone else type.)
  • Net Time Savings – Most people find that they are able to type values into a matrix faster than they are able to tell someone else which values to enter.

An additional and very significant benefit of blind voting is that it helps to ensure that the opinions of less-vocal or less-engaged stake holder get voiced. Since individuals are required to offer their own ratings/opinions before entering a group setting, blind voting helps decrease the likelihood of timid or Blackberry-distracted stake holders keeping their opinions to themselves.

In short, blind voting helps to make the QFD process less laborious, more effective, and more equitable. So, if a management team is looking to improve the “quality” of their Quality Function Deployment processes, they may just find that efficiency, like love, is “blind”.

This entry was posted on Saturday, May 10th, 2008 at 2:00 pm and is filed under House of Quality, Advice, Voice of the Customer, Quality Function Deployment, QFD. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can also leave a response.

3 responses about “Saving Time by Voting Blind”

  1. Norman Imambaksh said:

    This is a very practical suggestion and worthy of implementation.

  2. Minh Ton said:

    I’m not really face with the practicalities like Joseph P. Merts but think the ideas of “voting blind” could be applied for other brain storming sections where a lot of people involved!Thanks for the very valuable sharing!

  3. Keith Russel said:

    I personally do not recommend blind voting. To me voting blind out of no time is the lamest reason. With this perspective in mind, the blind vote would majority comprise of half baked decisions.
    Think of the impact if the HOQ is built on such decisions.

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