Feedback is an important element of organizational function that triggers change in a function or responsibility. Feedback at all levels, internal and/or external to an organization, drives innovation, brings change, and if taken seriously, results in continual improvement. Leadership commitment, managerial support and employee engagement when associated together have a catalytic effect, while quality of a product or service improves dramatically.
Organizations exist in layers with various functions that should work cohesively and collectively to meet quality objectives and commitments. Association between the organizational layers from senior management to the floor staff depends heavily on the feedback that should be timely, constructive and motivating.
Key objectives of an effective feedback system involve assessment of the areas of the business that will create maximum impact on quality of a product, process and service. Together, this builds a very strong quality system.
Ideally, feedback should start at individual process level, cross the organizational system, cross the process boundaries, cut barriers between interrelated processes, and spread sporadically establishing stable connections between the teams. If we are working on this process in the opposite direction, outputs collected from the end user (customer) passed through the organizational system back into the individual processes (inputs), we are building a very strong quality management system. Forward action will install an actual PDCA model and an action replay will open passage for continual improvement. There are a number of quality assessment tools that companies can use to harness the power of “quality feedback”. A simple “Plus/Delta” tool is discussed here.
The Plus/Delta technique is useful for simple process improvement in a single working unit and can apply successfully across the organizational layers with objectives to focus on the areas of the business that need improvement and add value to the business processes for maximum impact.
“Plus/Delta” tool is powerful enough to collect basic data from process owners with a view to identify value added activities and determine the course of action to fix a weak process, a poor quality product or service. This technique provides insight into a product or service quality and attempt to establish its relevance to the customer – satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Since, the technique is kept basic it is easily understood by all the teams, benefits are intensified and change becomes irresistible.
Using Plus/Delta Tool for “Quality Feedback”:
Plus/Delta technique is a simple, formative assessment tool that is powerful, easy to use, and provides us a simplified structure for displaying existing conditions and help discover strategies for improvement. The technique is useful for simple process improvement in a single working unit and can apply successfully across the organizational layers with objectives to focus on the areas of the business that need improvement and add value to the business processes for maximum impact.
To further explore the benefits of this simple technique and with a little effort, changes suggested for the “to be improved” process or action in one layer can be implemented in another layer of the organizational structure. The overall impact of this combined effort is great.
The Plus/Delta feedback method can apply to any idea, product, process, service, or activity. The good thing about this method is that the group is encouraged to focus on positives (changes) rather than negatives to bring improvements. Participants understand that their efforts will make a difference and the organization values its people for their opinions.
In a group setting, using Plus/Delta Sheet, the employees will provide their true opinions on any matter or quality issue, regarding existing or new product, process or activity. At the same time, ideas will be generated to bring positive changes leading to improvement. A moderator with clear focus and objectives will help steer this session and avoid distractions.
To take full benefit of Plus/Delta and make it more powerful, use the feedback process to get advice on these three actions: what you should keep doing, start doing, and stop doing.
Generic Questions for Plus/Delta:
- What is the current problem, complaint, issue, or situation?
- What kinds of information could help improve the process, product or service leading to customer satisfaction?
- What kinds of additional information could help the team be more productive?
- How could the team make good use of lessons learned from errors and omissions?
- How could we move forward to improve results, produce a better quality product, minimize errors, reduce inventory expense, deliver on time, and grow happy customers?
- What information could the team begin collecting for communication to the senior management for support and seeking resources?
- What information could the team share with the team members to create awareness and a sense of responsibility that would be helpful in the future, minimizing mistakes?
For the best results and to save time, it is recommended that the moderator use this tool for a single product, process or activity at a time and using not more than 4-6 points for seeking opinions (Plus) and brainstorming session (Delta).
Now it’s your turn…
Author: Anjum Shafi
Quality Auditor, Exemplar Global
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