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Improving Quality in Design-focused Services Dr. Terence Love Design-focused Research Group Curtin University Perth, Western Australia Visiting Professor IADE/UNIDCOM Lisbon, Portugal
Pride & Predesign, Cumulus IADE/UNIDCOM, Lisbon, 2005© T. Love 2005 Why focus on Quality? Design services shape economic and social development. Design services are complex involving multiple constituents with differing quality interests Significant problems and an extensive history of failure.
Pride & Predesign, Cumulus IADE/UNIDCOM, Lisbon, 2005© T. Love 2005 Why important? Quality is important : To businesses buying in design services To businesses with in-house design services To students buying design education To governments - it impacts directly upon national competitiveness, fulfilling economic and social development agendas, and the innovation benefits from investment into research.
Pride & Predesign, Cumulus IADE/UNIDCOM, Lisbon, 2005© T. Love 2005 Constituencies – internal design services
Pride & Predesign, Cumulus IADE/UNIDCOM, Lisbon, 2005© T. Love 2005 Constituencies – external design services
Pride & Predesign, Cumulus IADE/UNIDCOM, Lisbon, 2005© T. Love 2005 Problems in Quality Improvement Evidence indicates typical quality improvements are fundamentally flawed Three problem areas : Terminology: difference between 'every day' discourse on quality, and technical discourses on quality. Failures in understanding complexity and significance of feedback loops that shape quality processes. Failure to understand the sophistication of human responses to attempts to improve quality.
Pride & Predesign, Cumulus IADE/UNIDCOM, Lisbon, 2005© T. Love 2005 Insights from Systems Mental models of managers are frequently wrong Many solutions are counter-intuitive Causes of quality failure are misattributed Insufficient time and resources to find root process improvements and undertake them Managers confused by self-confirming false attributes Exogenous variables, boundary definitions and primary assumptions are more important than obvious quality factors Local sub-optimisation compromises overall quality.
Pride & Predesign, Cumulus IADE/UNIDCOM, Lisbon, 2005© T. Love 2005 Definitions of Quality Concept of qualityDefinition: Transcendent (1)Quality can not be defined but can be recognised Product-based (2)unpriced attributes contained in each unit of priced attribute User-based (3)Fitness for use. Satisfies customers Production based (4)Conforms to specifications Value based (5)Best for price; Best for actual use System-based (6)System to produce services that satisfy customers Cultural (7)Organisations culture supports the constant attainment of customer satisfaction through integrated use of training, techniques and tools
Pride & Predesign, Cumulus IADE/UNIDCOM, Lisbon, 2005© T. Love 2005 Where can quality be improved? Element of product development process (Ford & Sterman, 1997)
Pride & Predesign, Cumulus IADE/UNIDCOM, Lisbon, 2005© T. Love 2005 Local Sub-optimisation problem Local sub-optimisation - where a constituency attempts to improve things to their own advantage rather than optimise the whole.
Pride & Predesign, Cumulus IADE/UNIDCOM, Lisbon, 2005© T. Love 2005 Human behaviour problem Example: to improve quality: Managers measure attributes of processes and outputs People continue as normal with some effort to improve outcomes. People transfer attention to achieving the required metrics at the expense of other quality issues. This usually results in an overall reduction in quality. Another significant human behavioural issue is that neither designers nor design managers obtain sufficient credit for successful quality improvement. There is little credit for managing to avoid problems that do not happen!
Pride & Predesign, Cumulus IADE/UNIDCOM, Lisbon, 2005© T. Love 2005 The Design quality problem Focusing on reducing defects seen by the customers Is inefficient Increases defects in longer term.
Pride & Predesign, Cumulus IADE/UNIDCOM, Lisbon, 2005© T. Love 2005 Reducing defect production Focus on root causes of defect production: reduces resources used in rework reduces resources needed by many of the feedback loops that comprise an organisation. In the short-term, requires allocating resources from repairing defects to improving the underlying systems so that fewer defects originate. Where resources are limited, this is likely to increase the number of defects seen by the customers.
Pride & Predesign, Cumulus IADE/UNIDCOM, Lisbon, 2005© T. Love 2005 Actions Identify all constituents of an intended quality improvement initiative. Is the quality improvement situation at a real supplier-customer boundary? Identify all aspects of the process for which quality improvement is required. Model this process. System Dynamics is a suitable tool Pay specific attention to boundary issues, counterintuitive causal loops, impacts of exogenous variables, false self-confirming attributes. Focus on addressing roots causes of defects and reducing the rate of defects production. Review literature on the success and failure of established quality improvement approaches such as TQM.
Pride & Predesign, Cumulus IADE/UNIDCOM, Lisbon, 2005© T. Love 2005 Conclusions Improving quality in design services is important There is no easy fix to improving quality in design services. Improving quality in design services: Will require substantial changes to individual and organisational practices to reduce the rate of defect production Is unlikely to be successful if undertaken naively or simplistically. If additional resources are not available, quality improvement will reduce quality in short term until improvement propagates through the system of design production.
(c) T. Love 2010 (c) 2010 T. Love Dr Terence Love Curtin University, Australia, Lancaster University, UK, IADE/UNIDCOM, Portugal Design.
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