Tag: holidays

Welcome Year of the Monkey – Preparing for Chinese New Year

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Anyone involved in sourcing from China has likely been preparing for Chinese New Year for several weeks.  The “new year,” also known as the Spring Festival, is marked by the lunisolar Chinese calendar.  The festivities usually start the day before the new year and continue until the Lantern Festival, the 15th day of the new year. During that time, factories and other businesses are closed.

What happens during Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year is the most significant holiday in China.  It’s a time when the Chinese return to their home towns and celebrate with friends and family.  Learn more about the cultural aspects here. 

For those involved in manufacturing within the region, there’s an urgency prior to the holiday to ensure timely shipments. This is where proactive planning is helpful.

Welcome 2015… Maintain Quality Resolutions

goals

As the first Monday of the New Year has arrived and productivity once again gains momentum, so too has the responsibility for resolution follow-through.

Over the years, we have written a few articles that we think quality professionals in particular will appreciate.  We use quality tools from start to finish to ensure not only success, but continuous improvement (kaizen).

The first area of troubleshooting when it comes to making a change is effective planning. It’s not enough to say that you’ll exercise more or that you’ll start doing something about that one supplier that’s consistently late with shipments.  Strategic planning needs to take place, and S.M.A.R.T. goals should always be the result.

“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.” ~ Earl Nightingale 

Getting your brain on board with change can be the biggest challenge.  It’s one thing to want something, but it’s another entirely when it comes to getting your behavior to respond accordingly.  We’re wired for short-cuts and efficiency, so real effort is required to get things rewired.  With a negativity bias also at play, it’s often too easy to give up.

Successful New Year’s Resolutions – Using Quality Tools

blank list of resolutions on blackboardThroughout the world, personal resolutions (commitments) are made as the year comes to an end. From ancient Babylonians returning borrowed objects and paying debts to medieval knights taking the “peacock vow” and re-affirming their commitment to chivalry, starting fresh with each New Year is a timeless practice.

Surprisingly, it is estimated that as many as 75-88% of resolutions made for the New Year are not successful. We think it’s possible that incorporating quality tools are just what we need to bring those numbers down and make the positive changes successful.

Here are several quality tools we find applicable for both personal and professional development.

S.W.O.T. Analysis 
One of the most effective tools for both organizational and self-assessment is the S.W.O.T. analysis. As a starting process for developing New Year’s resolutions, it is an introspective way of evaluating personal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Worksheet Resource

Brainstorming 
It’s been said that deciding is half the battle. If that were true, it would be helpful to have a comprehensive list of potential resolution candidates – or anything that you could do to see a positive result in the coming year. Use mind-mapping to sort it all out.

Mind-Mapping Resource

Affinity Diagrams
With the list generated through the brainstorming process, group the items into more specific, similar categories.

How-To Resource

Bar Charts 
Use bar charts to provide a visual representation of the situation. Excel is an ideal tool for creating quick and easy charts. They can be used to identify areas of focus and monitor progress throughout in support of continuous improvement actions.

Excel Column Chart Resource

Pareto Analysis 
Using the categories determined from the affinity diagram and possibly the information from the histogram, pick those that represent 20% of the total. With this, we can assume improving on this 20% will reap us 80% of the benefits.

Procedure & Example Resource

S.M.A.R.T Goals
Once you have primary issues or resolutions notes, make each one a S.M.A.R.T. goal that you record and share with others. Studies have shown sharing a resolution with others increases the success. S.M.A.R.T. goals are those that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

How-To & Template Resource

Flowcharts
Flowcharts are great for continuous improvement. Map out the process of reaching the resolution. It’s beneficial to visually see how a goal is being met.

Complete Tutorial w/ Examples 

PDCA 
Drucker may not have been thinking about New Year’s resolutions when he spoke of Plan-Do-Check-Act, but it certainly applies. The tools listed above have laid out a plan, so it becomes important to follow-up and take corrective actions where necessary.

Plan – Identify what you want to do and how you can achieve the results. (See above)

Do – Put your plan into action. Keep track of efforts and results.

Check – Compare results to expectations at regular intervals.

Act – Keep doing what works and improve on what’s not.

To learn more about these and other quality tools, the Quality Toolbox is a must-have. To get kids involved with using quality tools, look at Thinking Tools for Kids.

For this article, we used the following reference, in addition to the other links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year’s_resolution

This article was originally published in Pro QC’s December 2012 quarterly newsletter.