Quality Magazine

Zero Defects Part II: Let Employees Help Improve Quality

August 26, 2009
In part II of his response, Crosby goes into further detail about the reality of implementing zero defects.

Keeping employees interested in a quality improvement is a challenge. That’s a big problem I have with most quality programs is that the workers are not involved.

In the 1960s quality revolution, when zero defects was born, General Electric came up with a system called Error Cause Removal (ECR). It let employees identify the problems in their workplace that caused errors.

The key to ECR is to ask the question: “What is it that prevents you from doing you job right every time? Tell me and I’ll fix it.”

ECR is not a suggestion program. The employee only needs to identify the problem; management must come up with the solution. A suggestion program works the other way.

ECR is cheap and easy to do. After supervisors are trained and employees are made aware of it, you only need a simple ECR form, a little publicity and a system to keep track of ECRs. The capital rule is “Don’t ever let an ECR get lost.”

There can be many variations of ECR. One company used C.A.R.E. – CARE – Cause And Removal of Error. Another had the BIP for Built In Problems. They used a cartoon character that looked like a potato with arms and legs. “Get the BIPs out of your job.” You will need a mini-advertising program to keep interest in ECR-nothing elaborate; just something to get the employees attention. It’s difficult to keep people interested in anything 365 days a year. It’s a good idea to run ECR as a clean up program for six weeks or 30 days and then put it away and do it again next year.

It doesn’t take much imagination to come up with a theme that fits what a company does. I created a complete ECR program based on the theme “Get the Bugs out of your job.” Info is on my web site www.qualitynew.com.

Zero Defects and ECR will always work. If you start an ECR program and get zero feedback, you’ve got other problems.

Also, click here to listen to Dave Crosby’s Q-Cast podcast interview about his book and more about zero defects and click here to read Crosby's first blog on this topic.