Quality in a Warehouse – Reimagining the Process

Working DollarOver the last 20+ years in and out of warehouses, it never ceases to amaze and horrify the quality department operations and the waste of resources spent in either making up for failed quality or haphazardly running quality programs, thinking they are a waste of time.  Even those companies who focus resources on quality never seem to understand the trifecta of operational integrity (Product in, Quality, Product Ship) that quality could bring to an organization.  The reality is simple, quality is either your focus, your company is growing, or quality is a nothing burger, and your company will eventually be purchased or bankrupted.  There is no third option; we need to be clear on this point; quality is this important!

In quality and part of many compliance requirements are counting to ensure inventory is correct.  The counts break down into three types:

  • The Hunt – goes by many names but generally requires a person to count everything in a specific inventory location, e.g., shelf, rack, drawer, bin, etc.
  • Cleaning Inventory – is almost always called a cycle count, and its main job is to take the errors found in the hunt and clean them up, resolving specific issues.
  • Correcting Inventory – goes by many names but is generally used as a specific action where research is required, combining the hunt and the cleaning to find particular errors, lost product, and specific SKU issues.

If the counts were ordered by a financial institution instead of the quality department, the processes for clearing the errors might differ; the names often vary.  Yet the categories are pretty generalized to cross industries and remain applicable to a general discussion on operational improvement and excellence.  Specific companies will change names and processes, but I affirm the categories are sufficiently described to be practical and applicable.

Money

A fact of life, inventory is expensive, counting that inventory burns blue money, and those funds are generally not recoupable!  When speaking about money, colors of money are critical to a discussion.  Unfortunately, too many business leaders are either too concerned with green money or not cognizant sufficiently of the other colors to see how they all play roles on the bottom line’s performance.

  • Blue Money: Potential Money.  For example, buy a hammer with green money and invest $20.00.  But, in the hands of an experienced tradesperson, that hammer is worth thousands of times this amount of money over the life of the hammer.  The inverse is also true; in the hands of an inexperienced tradesperson, the potential for loss of money is incalculable!
  • Red Money:   Specifically, debt where interest is owed, on top of the principal, and other cash outlays.
  • Black Money: Dead Money!  Dead money cannot earn interest, cannot be spent due to fear, and cannot be used anywhere.  For example, drop a $10.00 bill into the sofa, and that money is as dead as yesterday’s fish!  Worse, once found that capital is usually in someone else’s hands.
  • Green Money: Cash!  Plain ol’ greenbacks.  Be those digital dollars, actual paper money, change, etc.; this is money that can still be invested, spent, and transferred for products.  Generally representing the bottom line.

While other colors exist, the focus is on these four types specifically.  Let’s use an analogy here for a moment.  A warehouse company hires a person to count inventory (green money outlay).  That inventory person invests time to count inventory (blue money) errors in stock could be red, black, green money errors, based upon how the inventory problems are resolved.  If no inventory problems exist, only the blue money was spent potentially finding the mistakes.  However, if errors were made and inventory errors exist but were not found by the inventory counter, more potential money has been lost than green money.  There is a blue, green, red, or black money loss on top of the original investment to have the inventory counted.

There is an axiom pertinent to quality in every industry, “Burn enough blue money, and green money evaporates with no trace.”  Hence, if the quality people are burning too much potential money to find defects in inventory, green money (cash) will disappear off the bottom line without anyone ever knowing or tracking the loss.  This brings the conversation back to types of counts and the problems in quality operations.

Fundamentals of Reconnaissance

Anyone who has ever conducted reconnaissance will know and understand the connection between quality and inventory in a warehouse and reconnaissance.  For those not familiar, here are the fundamentals of reconnaissance.  Reconnaissance is all about observations and reporting, communicating and making decisions about intentions, forecasting, and deciphering to make the best decisions while passing relevant information to leaders.  Guess what; The same is true of quality departments, especially in warehouse inventory.  The seven fundamentals of reconnaissance are:

  1. Ensure continuous reconnaissance occurs
  2. Do not keep reconnaissance assets in reserve
  3. Orient on the reconnaissance objective
  4. Report information rapidly and accurately
  5. Retain freedom of maneuver
  6. Gain and maintain enemy contact
  7. Develop the situation rapidly

Essentially, in civilian speak, the fundamentals of reconnaissance boil down to initial observation, data collection, data analysis, response to data, and response assessment (evaluate actions with an eye to the improvement of response).  Repeating only for emphasis, every employee in a manufacturing or warehouse environment is part of the quality chain of events.  They need to know how their actions individually lead to group (business) success.  Case in point, a stock person stocks a bin with a product; if that bin is crammed full, the product is going to fall out, become damaged, and create problems for the next person to look at that inventory location.  If in a manufacturing environment, if stock feeding machines are not uniformly loaded into the machines, damage, injury, and death potential are maximized.Inventory Quotes Humor. QuotesGram

It is important to remember that this is part of the first step in reconnaissance, observing what is currently happening.  Observation is also part of the most basic type of count, the hunt.  Knowing what the inventory looks like, how to access that inventory, maneuvering on a production floor, personal safety, and equipment knowledge and safety are all part of properly observing, collecting, and reporting data.  A person I know once told me, “Keep throwing spaghetti at the wall until something sticks.”  What is not mentioned is the need to prepare the spaghetti so it will stick when thrown.  Observation is where preparation occurs, and the business skipping preparation will always fail to capture the data for analysis accurately.

Counting Inventory

The hunt represents the counts with the least return on investment and a need.  Hunting inventory errors is akin to hunting game only with a camera.  You might get good pictures, but hunting with a camera will not fill your belly if you are hungry.  Personally, I despise the hunt and have long advocated for these counts to be removed from the quality department’s count types or be redesigned to become more valuable.  Simply counting inventory for the sake of hoping to find an error is anathema to good business sense and propriety.Inventory Quotes Humor. QuotesGram

Remember, a paradox occurs when two items are compared, and at first glance, they are opposites, when in reality, and with consideration, the truth is revealed they are more closely related than they are opposing.  The same is true to counts that hunt for inventory defects and proper observation, providing why I despise the hunt counting.  Preparation is a prerequisite to revelation, knowing where the inventory is, how to maneuver in a warehouse, and reach the stock; all this and more are essential.  Yet, when counting inventory, I affirm there must be a better way than endlessly sending people out to count, hoping to find defects.

Some companies have mixed inventory hunting counts with shelf maintenance and bin cleaning defects.  Warehouse rash, trash, litter, dirt, and debris in a warehouse remain a significant safety issue and should be cleaned regularly.  However, if the stock person is not already cleaning and stocking bins and shelves properly, the quality assurance person sent out to hunt for defects will become demoralized and stop cleaning up after the stock handlers.  Whether those stock handlers are pickers, packers, pullers, stockers, etc., the title is less important than the role they play in quality for handling the inventory, keeping a steady strain on the cleanliness of the shelves, bins, and storage locations, and correctly placing the stock into the inventory locations.

Several colleagues who are part of the quality control group in warehouses express similar sentiments to the following: “My job in quality would be a lot easier if those stocking shelves and those pulling stock to ship would pay more attention to how they handle the stock and the inventory locations.”  To which my answer is always the same, “Are all your people aware of the role they play in quality?”  By the comments answering my question, it is fundamentally clear that there is a Grand Canyon-like chasm between those not officially in quality and those in other roles, and fixing the problem, and eliminating the useless hunt counts, is all part of bridging this chasm!The Crazy Work Related Moments (51 pics) - Izismile.com

Hunt counts do one thing valuably, they provide an innocuous way for quality people to learn the inventory and observe conditions generally, which sounds like two separate actions, but in reality, they are the same action.  That’s the entire value in hunt counts; these counts cannot clean inventory defects; they can only take a picture and report that picture to begin another warehouse process.  The frequency of errors in the inventory hunt process forms a view that reports how clean or dirty a warehouse’s inventory process is; but, this report can be related with greater accuracy without the hunt counts.  Unfortunately, because the data reported is shared in numerical values, individual bias in the statistical reporting tools can be manipulated and often is misrepresented by conscious or unconscious bias.

Hence, we can conclude that the hunt count by itself has little to no value (green money), is expensive (blue money), and will heavily influence the acquisition and maintenance of red, green, and black money.  What is a person to do?[2020's] Top 11 FAR CPA Exam Study Tips - Pass on Your 1st ...

Possible Solutions

Possible solutions are aptly named because no warehouse is exactly the same, no company is exactly the same, and the quality department mission will always differ from one business unit to another and between businesses that compete.  I admit I am heavily biased against hunt counts in the warehouse and manufacturing industries.  However, I am also heavily biased about removing something that works for something untried in the hopes it will replace a flawed system.  Thus, the solutions proposed remain possible solutions to initiate the spark to a future conversation and obtain input from smarter minds.

  1. Since the hunt counts are basic, and the roles of stockers and pullers are very similar to an initial role in quality where learning and observing inventory is a prerequisite, make the entry-level job for stockers/pullers/quality all the same position—cementing the need for everyone to play an active role in quality while also removing lines that separate.
  2. Fundamentally change the hunt count to focus not on inventory locations that appear clean but those in chaos. Chaos in an inventory location should be the primary focus for correction, not simply a mindset that everything will eventually be counted, so invest in useless counts to make work.  Hence a stocker or puller would approach an inventory location with problems and count that full location while cleaning and straightening that location and reporting that location as problematic for corrective remediation with the last person who visited that inventory location.
  3. Stocker/pullers will not be able to correct defective inventory; this is a Sarbanes-Oxley headache for compliance, but this is a good thing. A level two quality associate could then be dispatched to that newly cleaned, organized inventory location to perform inventory correcting actions, thus speeding the corrective inventory action and providing better data on associate activities.
  4. Part of reconnaissance is using data more wisely; this includes capturing data details, improving training, promoting quality as a mindset for every employee, and analyzing the data for specific corrective actions the business can initiate in inventory locations, shapes of packaging, and handling stock more efficiently to prevent damage. Follow the data path to root causes and act on correcting root causes.

Final Thoughts

Knowledge Check!Qualitative data is almost useless by itself.  Quantitative data is practically meaningless by itself.  Thus, operational reports must contain both types of data to provide a clear picture of events and be the most useful in improving decision-making.  More to the point, mixing both types of data individual bias and subconscious manipulation of the data is more difficult, thus mitigated.  Reconnaissance is all about communicating and capturing data for analysis.  Why should a business leader only have quantitative data to base decisions upon; hence the need to understand data and use data more wisely.  Never settle for only one type of data in a report, never settle for what has always worked in the past, and never allow business processes and procedures to live longer than 18 consecutive months without a full review and torture testing to check for better ways and means.  It cannot be emphasized enough, “If you do not try the impossible, you will never achieve the possible.”

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Jacob and Esau – The Perils of Government; An Analogy

Bobblehead DollSeveral books of scripture, in multiple religions, record the story of Jacob and Esau.  Jacob and Esau are twins male children of Isaac and Rebekah.  The boys were competitors for their entire lives.  Esau acts outside his parent’s wishes in marriage, sells his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of pottage (stew or beans; something cooked in a pot), and late in life is reconciled to Jacob even though his people continue to have animosity towards Jacob’s people to this day.  While the story of these twin brothers remains useful to those in religion and teaches several morals of importance, Jacob and Esau represent a classic tale of why government should be limited in size and scope.

Genesis 27, Old Testament, contains the story of how Jacob obtains the birthright blessing, which had been sold to him by Esau for the aforementioned bowl of pottage.  Consider with me what would have happened if the same bloated government we have right now had meddled in the affairs of Isaac, Jacob, and Esau.  The cost of meddling in the internal family affairs, the government would have taken 40% inheritance tax.  Esau would have always had the government as a millstone and ready excuse for not reconciling with Jacob, and lawyers and government officials would have further sundered the family.

Remember this, for it has importance in the following discussion, the government does not grant freedom, EVER!  As described and stated in the US Constitution and US Bill of Rights, freedom comes from a power higher than government, and government was only, ever, instituted for the benefit of man.  Ask yourself, is your government benefitting you?Plato 2

I guarantee the answer is no; regardless of the political spectrum, you prefer.  Why, because the government should not be exerting powers in areas that control or curtail the freedoms of the people.  Esau never valued his birthright, so selling it was easy, and a bowl of pottage was a rich reward for something he did not value.

How expensive is government-funded medical treatment?  Some will claim, but those receiving treatment never see a bill; really?  Costs are more than merely a statement representing the need to pay money.  What about the loss of privacy?  What about the loss of freedom to choose what treatments and providers are best for you?  What about the loss of innovation to the thumb of oppression from the government?  What about the loss of self-reliance and the health benefits of independence?  What about the destruction of your community and the connections people felt with and pride for community hospitals?  What was lost when the medical community forced, through the abuse of government intervention, the knowledge of herbs for the sterility of Big Pharmaceutical drugs?

For the hope of a prosperous retirement, what was sold; freedom and money in the now.  Yet, one should ask, where does the government get the power to take money, then give it back at some future point?  Except, how many of those government retirement Ponzi Schemes are fully funded, even with all the money flowing in?  The answer is as empty as Esau’s bowl.  Still, the government continues to steal money through forced taxation and purchase the hopes and liberties of citizens for that hoped-for bowl of pottage, prosperity in retirement.Plato 3

For the hope of reducing poverty, the government purchased a class of people whom they could abuse and ignite for political gain anytime they want or desire.  To create this aggrieved class of people, the government took over welfare programs, bought people with bread and circuses, asked them to stay in government houses, live on government food, enjoy government-provided entertainment, etc.  What was sold for this bowl of pottage; liberty, potential, freedom, upward mobility financially, safety and security, and hope.  What has been the consequences of this purchase; a permanently aggrieved class of people who look longingly at another’s possessions and desire them through theft because hard work is racist, demoralizing, and stops the government handouts.  Worse, the government had to grow in power and size to “manage” this class of people, creating those with six-digit salaries to rub the purchased people’s faces in the irony of what was lost in the purchase.

The United States has been waging a “War on Drugs,” almost since its founding.  The government considers one drug “good,” mainly due to the ease of controlling it for taxation purposes, and another drug “bad.”  Yet, how successful has it been in this “war?”  Not at all, and its failures are increasing year-over-year, even while new methods of taxation are being invented to manage “legal drugs.”

Alcohol in the United States has had a history of acceptance, tolerance, legal banning, and returned to tolerance and acceptance, all through human desires, abuse of government powers, and the need for tax revenue.  Sin taxes, the class of tax used to allow a citizen government approval to get drunk, stoned, or inject poison into their bodies, are among the highest taxes in America.  Yet, the more the taxes increase, the more people want these products, and the more the government wants people to use these products, for we see the purchase of something transitory using something highly precious to barter.  What is more precious than time and physical health, and what is purchased but something that can only temporarily ease pain or provide relief at best.Apathy

Tobacco has been a favorite drug of the government for its population to enjoy, pushing the popularity of the drug even while condemning and restricting how, when, where the drug can be enjoyed.  Tobacco farmers have played vital roles in American history, and the product has been a significant cash crop for government revenue.  Have you ever wondered where the money and research facilities originate to improve cigarette addiction?  Have you ever considered where the marketing materials originated to pitch the health benefits of smoking?  Do you realize that government is the biggest provider of money for research and marketing purposes?  Never forget the government has become flush with cash, pushing tobacco, regulating tobacco, and licensing tobacco.  Now ask yourself, why would the government give on the one hand and take on the other, because it is making money with both hands as people sell something precious for something valueless and transitory.

Do people get injured and need assistance; yes, but the government is never the answer to provide help.  Are there those who are trying to thrive and escape poverty; yes, but the government is never the answer to providing help.  A truth from time immemorial, governments do not produce anything; thus, the government must first take through legalized theft, taxation, and legal abuse to give to someone else.  Every representative government must walk a balancing act between what a government is and what responsibilities a government must shoulder.  Except, how many continue to make Esau’s mistake and sell something incredibly precious for something transitory and essentially valueless?

Worse, evaluate the consequences of allowing the purchase to occur.  First, the seller experiences buyer’s remorse, anger, jealousy, regret, and the government making the purchase laughs, making the bitterness of the sell more poignant.  Second, the seller needs an outlet for this buyer’s remorse.  In an effort to continue to purchase while appeasing, the government allows the seller to go destroy the property and goods of another less politically connected person and calls this social justice.  Third, the abused class of people who are not politically affiliated or are political rivals, whose property is being destroyed, looks on, and envy, malice, and contempt are bred, which furthers the goals and desires of the government.The Duty of Americans

Esau took a long time to be reconciled to Jacob, but it first required admitting that he had sold his birthright (something of great value) for something transitory and valueless (food).  Jacob and Esau’s story remains of great importance and a cautionary tale, especially for understanding why government needs to be smaller, less involved, and less able to abuse the citizenry.  For too long, the governments worldwide have either abused their powers to purchase or been established as a tyrannical and oppressive government.  Either way, the government is the problem, and the answer continues to be the same, curb the government!

Knowledge Check!If COVID has taught the populations of the earth anything, let us learn this valuable lesson, the government is the problem, not the solution!  The size of government is oppression, the cost of government is theft, and the loss of precious freedom and liberty for transitory and valueless gifts or benefits which come at too high a price in treasure and other precious resources.  We, the owners and the abused of government, must change how we think and feel about the role of government before all is lost to the ever-hungry maw of government and self-interests!

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

The Role of Customer Service – Find Solutions!

Bird of Prey24 September 2021 UPDATE:  For the record, the doctor’s appointment forming the central element of this article was with Advanced Neurology Epilepsy & Sleep Center (ANESC), Dr. Aamr A. Herekar M.D.  The staff are now trying to report that I was threatening, demanding, insulting, and reportedly told the commando secretary to “sit on my lap.”  All of which I strongly and hotly contest.  I was at all times professional, but firm.  I did not swear.  I did not insult the staff.  I did not breach professional conduct.  I have never asked any male or female to EVER sit on my lap.  When told to get a face shield, I went to my vehicle, retrieved the face shield, and wore the face shield for the appointment.  For the commando secretary and other staff to accuse me of this behavior is disingenuous at best and I am glad to be rid of this provider.  If you are in the El Paso, TX., are, beware if you are referred to this clinic!

I do not care if there is a pandemic or not!  I care even less if there is sunshine or rain, wind, snow, sleet, or hurricanes.  Guess what; neither do those people expecting customer service.  They want solutions, and when they do not obtain solutions, that customer will be looking at your competition and wondering if their needs can be met elsewhere.Angry Grizzly Bear

Let me set the scene.  I have a follow-up doctor’s appointment this morning.  I traveled more than an hour for an early morning appointment, which included surviving multiple school zones, crazy rush hour parents trying to get kids into school and themselves onto work, and the inevitable school buses working tirelessly to deliver children to school safely.  All of this I can accept; I agreed to the early morning doctor’s appointment as I need to do things this afternoon.  Upon arrival at the doctor’s office, I am greeted by a commando secretary, who knows I have a breathing problem and cannot wear a mask.  Who invents a reason to deny me care.  She calls a supervisor, then “politely” invites me to a back room to try and tell me off.  She then walks out when I suggested she had two options, move my care to another neurologist or have me wear a face shield, and I was leaning towards option 1.

Since January, this scene has repeated itself more than 10-times in two different states, and frankly, I am sick to death of customer service people who refuse to look first for solutions!  Your first duty in customer relations is to find solutions, not complain someone is not wearing a mask, not embarrass, isolate, and denigrate.  Your entire mission is to find solutions that will work with government mandates, business policies, and customer needs.

?u=http3.bp.blogspot.com-CIl2VSm-mmgTZ0wMvH5UGIAAAAAAAAB20QA9_IiyVhYss1600showme_board3.jpg&f=1&nofb=1For example, I was a new patient at a medical clinic.  I explained my mask predicament, and the business already had a procedure to protect those wearing masks and accommodate those who could not wear a mask.  Better still, it did not require a supervisor, it did not require special approval, I did not have to be embarrassed by office staff judgments, nor did I have to fight for my right to breathe.  Two different medical offices, two wildly different approaches to the same customer problem, and two phenomenally different solutions and different mental strategies from staff to provide customer service.

Was discussing cellphone service providers; provider one has deplorable customer service, provider two is not much better, and there is no third option.  I asked about solutions for small businesses to compare between the two providers and was aghast at the lack of interest in providing help to owner/operator small businesses.  I do upwards of $3600 in cellphone business a year; yet, even though I have five lines personally and pay for an additional one for my spouse, and am a small business owner, the cellphone provider is not interested in looking for solutions for small businesses.  Is it any wonder that customers are looking for options to ditch their phones?

Call Center BeansInternet providers are another huge pain point for me and my business on the topic of service providers and detestable customer service.  After moving, I am paying double for my Internet service connection, not paying double for the same speeds.  Paying double and not getting similar speeds.  Worse, the customer inattention has gone downhill since I was last a customer of this company 18-months prior.  I have been told that deregulation is why Internet providers cannot compete fairly in markets and scoff.  I have been informed, several times, that the reason the costs are so high for Internet connection is from outdated equipment.  I have scoffed again.  When Google tried to muscle into Phoenix, the current Internet providers threw an unholy fit, and Google was rejected the permits through legal, regulatory means.  Apparently, competition continues to be anathema to cellular phones and Internet service providers, all while these same providers abuse customers and refuse to perform basic customer service, such as finding solutions!

What is the solution; I offer the following as potential places to begin launching a customer service revolution.

    1. Commit to finding solutions first. Quicken Loans is one company I know that asserts that they want to say YES before saying no.  Commit to the same; demand your people learn how to say YES!
    2. This might sound old-fashioned, but believe it or not, it works. Smile and say please and thank you!  When you are thanked, say you’re welcome.  Manners matter in setting the tone in customer relations.  A smile goes a long way to setting the proper tone.
    3. Another potentially old-fashioned idea, but worth considering if your front office staff looks rough. Customers will automatically not want to do business with you if their first impression is tattoos, body piercings, crazy hair, long nails, and scowling faces.  The doctor’s office, the lead office support person, is covered in tattoos, has a body piercing that draws attention to body areas that make professional interactions difficult to conduct. Her hair matches her demeanor, rough and disruptive.

Knowledge Check!Please note, I am not against tattoos and body piercings.  In professional settings, restraint is needed to show respect to the business environment and not distract properly.  The nursing staff all have tattoos, and they are not as disruptive as the lead office support person.  Others have body piercings on their faces, ears, heads, and body parts.  But, these are not distracting, and drawing attention to body parts best left unnoticed in professional settings.  There is a distinct difference between acceptable and unacceptable, and business owners will need to draw a line or be prepared to have problems with customers.

    1. Post in a prominent position what the customer commitment is and who to contact if customer attention fails. Want to raise awareness of customer solutions, post your commitment, and then live that commitment.
    2. Technology is wonderful; there need to be reliable replacement channels when you eliminate a communication channel. For example, the doctor I visited they do not have incoming phone calls.  You can text the doctor’s office, you can fax the doctor’s office, you can send messages through a group insurance website, and you can email the doctor’s office.  When you insist the doctor’s office do something to fit another bureaucracy, e.g., the VA, the office support staff through a fit and stop responding to text messages and emails.   So, not only is their attitudes inappropriate, the customer service communication channels are throttled intentionally to avoid angry callers.  Forcing patients to have to deal in person when technology is made to fail.

WhyCommit to customer relations, find solutions.  Commit to saying YES!  You will be surprised how fast people become customers and want to remain customers when employees representing your business are committed to finding solutions first and excuses NEVER!  End the abuse of customers; I know which doctor I will be ending my relationship with as soon as humanly possible, and I will leave online customer service reports.  Abuse me as a customer, and I will go out of my way to make sure other customers and potential customers know.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Let’s Talk About Root Cause Analysis

Flying BuffaloSome of you are thinking, “I will skip this article because the title does not sound interesting.”  I beg your forbearance, just please keep reading.  I laughed today, long and loud, over the incompetence of the current elected leaders in America, fully supporting public mocking, public shaming, and public humiliation over the following piece of news.

You cannot make headlines like this up:

Kamala Harris Emphasizes “Root Causes’” of Border Surge, Says the Problem is “Complex” while blaming climate change for the border crisis.

Let that sink in for a minute; the person who cannot hold a press conference, cannot even get VP added to her title, and cannot do root cause analysis!  I have been working since I was twelve; I was taught root cause analysis as a shade-tree mechanic; you have to be able to diagnose the correct problem to fix the engine.  This article looks like VP Harris is fixing the tires on a car without an engine, claiming this will get the vehicle running real good.  Here is VP Harris’ actual quote:

We are looking at extensive storm damage because of extreme climate, we’re looking at drought in an area in a region where agriculture is one of the most traditionally important basis for their economy, we’re looking at what’s happening in terms of food scarcity as a result of that and in fact, incredible food insecurity, which we used to call hunger food insecurity.”

Detective 4Let me see if I understand this statement correctly.  Political instability, Venezuela’s continuing meltdown politically, and the invitation from many politicians with (D) after their names have nothing to do with the “border surge.”  Just like a stricter stance on illegal immigration by President Trump (R) didn’t slow down illegal immigration on the southern border; do I have that correct?  Let’s talk about incentives, mainly welfare, housing, education, and a political base that refuses to enforce immigration law, do these not influence a southern border crisis, and buffalo wings come from flying buffalo.

What is Root Cause Analysis?Root Cause Analysis

Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a process of logically working through a problem as a solution is developed.  I know some of you have other definitions for RCA, and that’s okay.  I am just trying to be real simple here, for if VP Harris sees this article, I do not want her confused with big words.  There are three goals to simple RCA, discover the root of the problem, understand how to fix the problem, apply what is learned to prevent future issues.  VP Harris’s comment above has already failed the goals of RCA; hence we can conclude that RCA was not accomplished!Fishbone Diagram

Effective RCA processes possess core principles that are apolitical and easily understood:

      • Focus on fixing the problems, not band-aid solutions
      • Symptoms relief is a short-term answer to buy time for long-term solutions.
      • Multiple root causes are possible; however, each root cause requires factual justification and logical discussion.
      • Who is never part of RCA, just HOW and WHY.
      • Methodical cause and effect evidence is required for each root cause.
      • Future prevention requires increasing learning and understanding.
      • Corrective action requires information and ACTION.

I am not here to hurt VP Harris’s feelings, but her comment about the southern border crisis being climate-related still does not pass the smell test on the core principles of RCA.  Let alone any logical test for veracity.  Thus, again, we can conclude that RCA was never followed to justify her commentary!

The easiest and simplest RCA is the 5-Whys Approach.  Here is the 5-Whys Approach in a simple analogy:

      1. Why? – The car battery is dead. (First why)
      2. Why? – The alternator is not functioning. (Second why)
      3. Why? – The alternator belt has broken. (Third why)
      4. Why? – The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced in a timely manner to save the battery. (Fourth why)
      5. Why? – The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule. (Fifth why, a root cause)

Using the 5-Whys Approach, one can also work backward from a completed RCA to double-check integrity in the process.

5 – I am holding the maintenance records showing timely maintenance was conducted.
4 – The alternator belt is broken, but so are the other belts in the engine. Are we sure the root cause is the alternator?
3 – The alternator is missing.
2 – The battery is missing.
1 – The car is not working; why?

Using VP Harris’s comment above, we can back check the climate-change excuse to the erroneous assumption using the same technique.

5 – How many illegals at the southern border are only from the three countries being blamed for illegal immigration?
4 – Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, suffered from El Niño and El Niña in 2017 and 2018, but there was no increased immigration during those tumultuous years of extreme weather.
3 – Since 2015, food security has been an ongoing problem in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Again, we do not find a surge in citizens from these countries immigrating illegally to the US Southern Border.
2 – According to the World Bank, regardless of the weather issues and the global financial crisis, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras are still being favorably looked upon as places to invest in for good returns on investment.
1 – What is causing a southern border crisis immediately after a presidential election year?

Please note, I only researched to 2015 for the weather, economy, and food security issues, as obviously President Trump (R) never had a positive influence on the Southern Border Crisis.  President Biden just inherited President Obama’s mess.  Does the RCA backward and forwards process make sense?  I ask solely because we have had migration issues on the southern border before today.  The politicians in America never seem to find the root causes and act to protect America’s defensible borders!  Blaming the weather, which has been changing in cycles since recorded history, for recent events, is akin to blaming the position of the planet Mars for burning one’s hand on a hot stove.

ApathyYet, let’s give VP Harris the benefit of the doubt; maybe her staff did complete an RCA process to reach this conclusion, while she has been sequestered and unavailable since the election.  If so, it would be easier than stepping off a curb to produce the RCA in detail and allow us, the electorate, to see how and why she is blaming the weather for a migration crisis.  This is a reasonable request, produce the proof an RCA was completed, where climate change is the only root cause in a “complex problem.”  Want to raise the stakes a little; if you cannot produce the RCA and accompanying evidence, along with the plans of action, you leave American politics forever.  If you produce the evidence and RCA, I will issue a sizeable public apology and never write about politics again.  I am waiting!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

 

NO MORE BS: Intention and Discernment – Tools Worth Knowing

Foghorn Leghorn - MedicationParents, how many times have you witnessed a toddler going about their day, an idea crosses their face, and you can tell they are about to do something that gets that toddler in trouble?  I heard a comedian talk about witnessing this as the toddler saw the cat sleeping in the sun, the toddler crossed the room and kicked the cat.  When asked why the toddler claims “it was accident.”

What is intention?

Intention is all about deliberate action, using a plan, and involving ideas in action.  According to Webster, intention is also the healing process of a wound, but this definition is not part of our discussion.  From Latin, we find intentio as “stretching purpose” and originates with intendere meaning “towards, stretch, and tend.”

Calvin & Hobbes - Irony HurtsConsider these definitions for a moment and the story about the toddler kicking the cat.  We have a plan, a purpose, and a deliberate action.  How does the parent discern the act was deliberate; the use of observation as to what the toddler had done to the cat previously, what the toddler was doing immediately before they kicked the cat, and the attempt to use an excuse to get out of trouble.

Discerning Intention.

Never Give Up!When defining discernment, I am not entering holy waters to discuss the pieces of discernment that belong to discerning for religions.  Discernment is the ability to obtain sharp perceptions, observations that empower decision-making.  Discernment can be psychological, moral, or aesthetic.  Discernment is also defined through the contexts; scientific, normative, and formal. The process of discernment involves going past the mere perception of something and making nuanced understandings about its properties or qualities.

Note, there is also a legal definition, or standard, for discernment, “the cognitive condition of someone who understands; savvy, understanding, apprehension knowing about their actions before, after, and during the act;” which is where things get sticky when discernment and intention cross paths.  Hannity and Carlson disagree on the actions of the jury in the Derek Chauvin case.  Not being a lawyer and not knowing all the legal jargon, the best I can do is form an opinion.  I base my opinion on other high-profile cases where the media has condemned an individual as guilty before the judge and jury are formed.  Meaning, I feel the jury was intentionally and unfairly biased against Derek Chauvin due to the influence of the media and the mob outside the courtroom’s doors.Thin Blue Line

There was a shooting of a teenage girl in Columbus, Ohio, by a police officer.  The girl had a knife in hand, did not listen to the police officer responding, and lunged at another person before being shot.  Again, we come to discerning intention and split-second decision-making.  Only, in this instance, the officer has no history of the person holding a knife, only reports of a stabbing and an apparent altercation involving a knife when they arrive on the scene.  I offer no judgment in this case as this case continues to unfold, details are still being investigated, and family interviewed.  Yet, the media is already off and running their biased opinions, and mobs have formed for mobocratic justice, which is never just nor proper.

Calvin & Hobbes - Ontological QuandryUnfortunately, this pattern repeats too often, and thus the need to understand discernment and correctly discerning intention.  My intent is not to make you as adept at this practice as a police officer. In a Republic, and even in many democratic societies, the citizens need to discern and discern intention, two separate processes.  The media will sell a lurid and emotionally charged story with all the bias of a bull in a China Shop and never care about the consequences.  But, the citizen does not have the same luxury or legal protections as the media.  Hence, we must discern what the media relates and discern the media’s intention before we ever read or listen to their story/reporting of events.  Thus my intent in this article and bringing up this topic, we, the citizens, are held to a higher law than the media and cannot afford to form mobs, trust the media’s reporting, or even rely upon the press reported “facts” to discern and discern intent.

How do you make a decision requiring action?

GearsThe process for critical thinking, leading to intentional decision-making, with purposeful action, generally follows the following pattern:

      1. Gather data
        • Requires knowing the validity of the source data and trusting the sources.
      2. Organize the data
      3. Make preliminary decisions and determine an action to take.
      4. Beta test the decision through application to a minimal audience to refine the solution and ensure the integrity of the data.
      5. Roll out the entire decision, including the solution and the reasoning, take timely action.
      6. Monitor and make course corrections as needed.

Detective 4These steps are useless unless we understand our own intention before launching a decision-making process.  Consider, do you intentionally believe that others are doing their best or giving their best efforts?  Do you intentionally shut down your own opinion to consider the perceptions of others in making decisions?  Where in those steps do you stop and take a moment to ponder the short and long-term consequences of the solution devised?  When making decisions, do you ever consider the axiom, “If a solution is not Win/Win, everyone loses?”  Do we fear failing to make a correct decision if the future teaches us something new about the data changing the pattern of decision-making?  How do you learn?

Let us briefly examine that axiom, “If a solution is not Win/Win, everyone loses,” does not mean making everyone happy.  A good compromise leaves everyone upset and feeling cheated and settled on the issue under consideration.  Yet, the media and many politicians firmly believe that unless they win everything they desire in a solution, they have been robbed and feel justified in stirring up public angst and creating a worse problem.  The adults in society must understand both the good and the ill in creating Win/Win solutions, or all is lost, and the patients run the asylum.

Anton Ego 4In going back to the analogy of the toddler kicking the cat.  Does the solution in the short-term mean corrective behavior modification for a long-term lesson learned?  Does the better solution involve instruction as well as behavior modification?  Have we, the parents, discerned correctly the intention of the toddler sufficient to justify our decision?  Will the cat be safe around the toddler in the future because of the action we take at that moment?

How do you learn?

In answering this question, we must return to the topic of failure.  Do we consider failure a learning moment?   Do we appreciate the power of failing as integral to achieving success?  A close relative of mine in high school went out for the track team as a pole vaulter.  I looked into pole vaulting to learn more and was surprised at the ways, means, and multiple times the pole vaulter will fail.  The technical skills to pole vault are incredible, almost as unbelievable as being an operations manager in a manufacturing environment and being a parent.  Hence, the need for discernment and intention.

2012-08-13 07.37.28I close with a challenge, use discernment more intentionally in learning your way through failure to success.  Liberty and freedom allow us the power to fail our way to success, but only if we consciously choose to learn and discern better our steps in decision-making.  Know your intent, take a moment every day to consider your intent, and purposefully make decisions to live your intentions.  Trust yourself to discern.  Your confidence in discerning is key to understanding and using your intention to power decision-making as a process.  Please remember, what I am discussing requires time, you will fail, but you will also win and win BIG!  Enjoy the journey of discovery!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.