Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Omaha - Root Cause Analysis Course

So I'm in Nebraska for the first time in my life! It's always nice to start a job where you get to explore new places and have new adventures -- you just hope those places are more exciting than Omaha, Nebraska!! But the exciting thing about this training course is that there are people here from different places -- so I get to meet and interact with them. There are 2 ladies from Canada -- and even they are completely different. One is from Western Canada and has a very "Canadian" accent and culture, whereas the other is from Montreal and speaks French and has a very "French-Canadian" accent and culture. So, it's definitely been interesting carpooling with them and learning about their lives, their work, their plants, etc.

This training course is a course on "Root Cause Analysis" -- specifically in the area of quality. I feel like quality is an area of my company, Valmont, that is not viewed as such a high priority as other areas of the company -- such as safety, environmental, lean, etc. Well, obviously as a quality manager, I think that quality should be of the utmost importance. What good are we as a manufacturer if we are not designing, building and selling a quality product? And my love of concrete obviously drives me to see it utilized in it's greatest capacity.

So, this course has been a challenge in many ways. Most of the people attending the course work here in NE at the headquarters, and most of them are in the "structures" division of my company -- who builds light poles, etc. My specific division is the "utility" division, and I specifically work with concrete poles. So, it's definitely been a challege as they compare their problems in the steel plant and producing steel poles for a different purpose.

However, this course has been amazing. It forces you to change your thinking toward problem solving (specifically in the area of quality) and use a 5 step approach in finding the root cause of the problem and truly digging deeper in a systematic way. Check Duke Okes out at: I'm definitely looking forward to tackling our quality problems and training the guys in the plant to tackle their own problems using this method. My favorite quote from Duke yesterday, 7.28: "Intuition is great...when backed up by data." -- Duke Okes.

Now I will go to enjoy one of the several perks of staying in a hotel -- "Guest appreciation Wednesday" -- which means free beer/wine and h'or dourves!! :-)

Now you guys will have to decide if you agree with Christina in that my life is interesting enough to blog about... this stuff is only interesting to engineering-minded geeks like me!! (I know Laura would agree with that statement -- she had to live with her dad and learned to tune me out before I even began!!)

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