Quality sat down with Jim Spichiger, program manager, Amazon Custom Service, and immediate past chair of the ASQ Inspection Division, to discuss his upcoming Quality Show South presentation.

Podcast Excerpt

Quality: Could you tell us a little more about what people can expect from your session?

Jim: My session is going to focus on process maps. What's the difference between a process map and a flowchart and a value stream map? So we're going to talk about all three. We'll give you a quick, short example of each and explain the differences. What you're going to see, when I always say a process map, is a flowchart on steroids. We're going to take a simple flow and then expand on it and how it can further help you in your lean journey. So what you can expect is not only the tools but also how it's going to help you and how it's going to help in your lean efforts.

Quality: Who would you say you'd like to reach specifically and what are the keys you'd like them to take away from your presentation?

Jim: The who. I would expect people interested in Lean, or novice Lean practitioners, or people have no familiarity with Lean, they can come in and get some basic understanding what Lean is and how it will help you. And the tool itself, the process map, how to put that into practice. So if you're a novice or someone who's interested in learning about Lean, this is a session for you. This is very basic information, but it can quickly help you jump into the Lean arena, and it'll help you apply a simple tool and quickly be able to put it to good use. The takeaways are gonna be understanding what a flow chart is, what a process map is, what a value stream map is, and how the process map can help you with your lean efforts. Lean is in simple terms of reduction of waste, and how do we go about doing that? Well, the process map is a very visual tool. You can quickly identify areas of bottlenecks, duplication, pain points. And that tool will then help you identify these areas, eliminate them, and even up the flow of your manufacturing process.

Quality: And how can quality professionals use Lean and process maps to improve their work?

Jim: Yeah, so what I like about a process map more than anything else is visual. It's quickly you can see areas as identified as duplications, bottlenecks, pain points. And you can sense that here's where we got to focus on. And usually when you're sitting there with a team, no one knows everything. Or people think they do and then they start seeing it visually and say, oh, I didn't know that or I didn't realize that. Or the person next to them will say, well, we do this instead. So the visualization helps you understand the process. Me as a Six Sigma lean person coming in, I will usually know nothing about the process. I'm helping the team with their problems. So for me to quickly put that up on a board, I will then, with a matter of 30 minutes or 60 minutes, understand their entire process. So then I can understand and talk, relate with them and what's happening. So quality professionals will be able to use this tool to not only visualize the work, identify the areas, but also help them to figure out how do we work around it? What are the solutions to create the flow that we're looking for? And how did you yourself get interested in lean manufacturing? I think that was just an evolution of my career. I started out as a quality professional, moved into Six Sigma world. Lean and Six Sigma eventually merged as they matured. They're both depending on each other. One's looking at reducing variation. He's looking at reducing the waste. The tools, there's a lot of overlap between the tools. So I think like I said, it was just an evolution of my career and my employer putting the lean principles into work. And I've worked in lean in both manufacturing and the banking industry, now with Amazon's customer service. So it's just able to take those tools and understanding and the learnings that you've created and put them to use. And just like I said, evolution of my career. Yeah, it sounds like it has broad appeal across all of those industries you mentioned and more.

Listen to the rest of the interview here

For more information, go to the 2024 Quality Show South Agenda.

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