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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
A “new” performance management network – The Process Chart Interest Group
Many organisations have in the past enjoyed the benefits of applying systems approaches to problem solving and management. These approaches are based on a world view that is often contrary to current beliefs, but one that has been shown to be invaluable and practical in a wide range of industrial and public sectors. Those that understand the core reasoning behind this approach, and that successfully apply it, are often surprised that so few organisations are reported to have followed suit. The problem appears to be that most organisations are simply unaware of such approaches. Many groups, such as the British Deming Association, have in the past attempted to address this problem by building communities of practitioners and academics. They have held conferences, workshops and seminars. It is widely accepted that their impact has been at best marginal. As stated by Clare Morris, former chair of the Royal Statistical Society’s Quality Improvement Committee, “I am very aware, from contacts with practitioners across industry and commerce, of the need which exists for a resource which will provide impartial information on the ideas of Deming, Shewhart and others, rather than ‘plugging’ the latest patented methodology”.
A new network is evolving to address this need, developed from the Control Chart Networking Group (CCNG), formed in 1995 to act as a forum for all who shared a common interest in the use of control charts in whatever environment they might be applied. Since then the group has been redefined as the Process Chart Interest Group (PCIG), reflecting a wider interest in the use of a control chart in improving process performance in all areas. This group differs from previous associations in one crucial way: rather than just being a repository and disseminator of knowledge, it is also a creator of knowledge. To achieve this, it is intended to bring together the currently disparate groups of researchers and practitioners applying systems thinking to share their experiences and to create an integrated research agenda. The group will provide a guiding presence in the funding of such research through grant applications to relevant funding bodies.
In the first instance the PCIG is arranging a number of meetings and events. These meetings normally consist of three activities, described as follows:
A learning element. It is apparent that people like doing things, and it follows that that they will only appreciate some basic ideas about control charts if they are involved in a practical, hands-on activity that provides them with a learning experience. As a result, to date nine practical activities are being looked at. Some are already available; others are in the process of being developed. The activities will be recycled as the PCIG meetings take place over the months.
A specific presentation. We learn from listening to others’ experiences almost as much as doing something. Feedback has shown that we should continue to arrange for a presentation on some aspect of the use of SPC in differing organisations. The speakers to date have prompted a very positive response.
An open forum. The third part of the programme is an open forum. This does not mean that there are no guidelines in operation. A couple of recent meetings have shown that attendees really welcome an opportunity to talk around their specific SPC problems. Hence the last session will depend on those who attend. You will be encouraged to bring data with you, ask for help on what it is telling you, which control chart you should use, where you are going wrong, what to do next and so on. The nature of the group means that we all work together to help each other. In line with Deming’s thinking, the more confident help the least experienced, and in that way we all learn something, and never stop doing so.
A day’s programme which should be of interest to anyone who wants to know more about a control chart, listen to how an organisation is using the technique, and share their knowledge, skills and enthusiasm with others.
The PCIG would welcome new members, from any discipline or sector, with an interest in applying systems thinking and an understanding of variation to performance management problems.