Quality and Productivity

“Quality is not an act. It is a habit.” – Aristotle.

I often hear “I don’t have time to do it right”.   How does that work?  If you do something just to get done and you are not paying attention to getting it right then there is a high chance of creating the need to do it again.  This is counter to productivity.  Yet this mindset persists.

How can you fight the need to get things done quickly and the need to get it right, so it’s only done once?  Here are a few tips based on Deming’s quality cycle (Deming Cycle):

  1. Plan:  Before you start take a minute to be sure you know what is required of the task.  Clarity on expectations is one of the biggest keys to ensuring things are only done once.  If you are not sure what is needed then you should ask for clarification on the final product.  It gets frustrating to turn over a project only to have it returned for corrections.
  2. Do:  When you get started on a task make sure you have what you need to do the job correctly.  If you need input from others, collect it.  If you need materials, make sure they are on hand when you start.  If you need data or information, gather it first.  This allows you to keep the task moving smoothly.  As well, you won’t need to go back to add or correct something later.
  3. Check:  Review your work to make sure you completed everything that was in the expectations.  It takes a few minutes to proof read a document, verify the data in the report, or ensure an object is assembled properly.
  4. Act: If you find that certain assignments often need rework or cannot be completed correctly, look at the reason why that’s happening.  Is it due to incomplete instruction, insufficient resources, or lack of time?  If so, then go back to the beginning and get clarity on what is expected, make sure you have what is needed to accomplish the task, or negotiate the due date to ensure sufficient time is available.

While these principles of quality are normally applied to manufacturing or other business processes they are applicable to your daily tasks.  Taking a few extra minutes to ensure the quality of your work will save you time associated with rework.

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