August 23rd, 2007 by Peter Wolfe
In 1979, a PBS station in Boston called “WGBH” aired a one-time, 13-part series entitled “This Old House”. Since that time, the program has grown to become one of PBS’s most popular programs, has generated spin-offs, produced a popular magazine, spawned a for-profit website, and even inspired sitcoms. And why has this program been so successful? In my opinion, it’s because people have an inherent love for taking something great, stripping away its faults, and putting it to new found use. That is the same explanation that I use when people ask me about Quality Function Deployment’s resurgence in popularity during recent years. In short, when people ask me why QFD has experienced so much growth in adoption, my answer is simply: “This Old House…of Quality”.
Many people attribute Quality Function Deployment’s increase in popularity to its incorporation into the Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) methodology. While DFSS’s impact on QFD adoption cannot be disputed, I would argue that the “Lean” discipline has had an equally large impact on QFD adoption. At this point you are probably thinking that I am going to mention something about minimizing design costs through the use of a QFD, and how that relates to Lean. In truth, the QFD tool is very useful for avoiding waste in the early design phases of any project. However, it is not the use of the Quality Function Deployment tool in applying Lean principles that has had the largest influence on QFD usage. On the contrary, it is the application of Lean principles to the QFD tool itself that has had such a profound impact on its adoption. In other words, it was the introduction of waste-conscious modifications made to the QFD that has broken down some of the barriers to QFD use in mainstream settings.
Many teams have recently stepped back and taken a long hard look at the various matrices of the Quality Function Deployment tool. During this inventory, they have analyzed the return on investment offered by certain aspects of the tool and evaluated whether or not certain features were really worth the tedium involved in documenting the associated data. Many people came to the conclusion that there were wastes (or at least minimal returns) involved in dogmatically using all of the components of the tool. The conclusions arrived at ranged from a need to modify certain portions of the House of Quality (such as which set of requirements to enter on which axis), to the decision to discontinue use of certain portions of the HOQ (such as the competitive analysis). Some teams even replaced certain concepts in the HOQ with more functional or less tedious processes (such as replacing positive and negative correlation with the more concrete concept of dependency). At the end of the day, all of these teams had one thing in common: they had modified the QFD tool to work for them in a pragmatic way that they could and would continue to use.
QFD Online has invited me to explore some of the modifications made by these teams (including my own) in a series entitled “Remodeling the House of Quality”. During this series, we’ll explore why these teams made the modifications that they made, what the results were, and why you should consider making (or avoiding) similar changes. Although I don’t imagine that this series will ever inspire a network sitcom, it will hopefully help you to revitalize and polish up your own QFDs a little. So join me back here for what should be an interesting new look at an old (but very beneficial) tool. Look out Bob Vila, here I come!
This entry was posted on Thursday, August 23rd, 2007 at 6:30 pm and is filed under House of Quality, Remodeling the HOQ™, DFSS, Lean Six Sigma, Quality Function Deployment, QFD. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can also leave a response.