Friday, April 1, 2011

Following up

A follow up on the BMLSc lecture mentioned in the previous journal entry.    As mentioned this is a group of students primarily from a science stream with some (?) interest in medical laboratory sciences.  Two of them had prior knowledge and experience in the clinical laboratory.  When I asked them about where they saw their career in the next 5 years, most could not say, but 6 or 7 thought they might be involved in clinical laboratories at some level.  So that was interesting.  

Of greater interest to me was that when the presentation was over, one student came over with a lot of questions about Culture of Quality and where that fit in as part of the laboratory.  She was not one of the two with prior laboratory experience.   If students are interested in concepts like laboratory culture. then it seems there is room for a positive outlook for the laboratories of tomorrow.

For anyone interested, my presentation is downloadable from

In a previous entry I critiqued a presentation of Jidoka, which is described as empowering line-workers and co-workers and supervisors with the ability to form immediate ad-hoc committees to resolve quality problems that appear in the assembly process of automobile manufacturing.  In error I described the extension of that processes to are beyond the manufacturing component also as Jidoka.  The correct terminology is defined as Zenjidoka (or Total Jidoka).  My apologies.
The authors in a follow-up article, describe Zenjidoka as “when an employee hears directly or indirectly about a customer problem, [even in they are thousands of miles away from corporate headquarters]  that employee is empowered to use his knowledge, skills, and judgment to immediately take action, even if that action means going against company policy or procedure.”
Assuming this is an accurate description of the intent of Zenjidoka, I cannot imagine a process more fraught with risk, with the possible exception of allowing folks to play with a loaded firearm.  In a complex organization, indeed in many simple organizations, the likelihood that an employee working at an off-site location would have immediate access to information to resolve complaints, using means that can include contravening policy would have to be categorized as an extremely high risk procedure.  

If ever there is an opportunity to increase costs of poor quality through compounding error through false calls and inappropriate action.  So while I apologize for messing up the terminology, I remain sceptical of the intent.  Count me as a continuation in the “not a fan” category.

There is a message here.  There is nothing inappropriate  with taking the time for a second thought at a new concept and rejecting it the second time, just as it was rejected the first.  It is OK to tell folks that ideas can be bold and new and wrong all at the same time.  Not every new idea is a pearl.

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