crazy_nip wrote:Santa Fe and Conrail's brief TQM experiments showed that these type of initiatives that work (or work to some degree) in the business and manufacturing world just don’t in rr's...
Having been part of the quality effort for Conrail for several years, I have to agree with the outcomes you portray in your post. However, that same internal perspective let me see that the company never really did much in the way of quality management -- unless someone like Ford was holding a gun to their heads to improve service quality. Beyond that it was an internal joke -- and a disappointment to many in the company like myself who really cared to make things work better but had no support from the senior managers that mattered the most (operations).
But -- that does not prove that quality initiatives cannot work for railroads. Quality initiatives that are not taken seriously do not work for railroads -- or for any organization for that matter. Too many variables? You figure out which ones you can control, and you work the processes to get them in control. Not easy
, I agree -- but still possible
if you know what you're doing. (Or if you hired the right consultant
Cowford wrote:The purpose of six-sigma process is not necessarily to have trains arrive on-time 99.996% of the time... it is used as a tool for root cause analysis and developing better processes and controls to maintain improvement.
The complaint I've heard most often from customers of this kind of business is a lack of consistent service. They say, "Give me something I can depend upon, so I can run my business intelligently and efficiently."
Six Sigma is applicable to any
system, and can improve the results. Any system in which managers change processes without a good solid statistical analysis will get worse
instead of better. Yeah, it's easier to do this with manufacturing, but I repeat, I think it's something that needs attention. I'm sure GE would say it can work this way.
Yes, union work rules are part of the system. So are the day-to-day decisons made by operations managers that are not based on valid process data, but on the latest occurances of events. Then, every day, things get more and more out of control. Operating plans are assembled, and promptly altered at the first difficulty or blip in the data -- usually because someone is afraid to take the risk of staying with the plan (or the plan is no good to begin with).
Whenever I hear a manager say that things can't get any better, they usually turn out to be right. If one doesn't believe something is possible, it ends up being impossible. Funny how that works.
Anyway -- Mr. Weaver
has valid points about good people
who are placed in situations where they have to make choices about the safest or best course to follow -- and sometimes there are too many variables
beyond their control, allowing bad things to happen.