I am a consumer just like everyone else, and I’m seriously concerned about the retail service industry in the United States. To our chagrin, many manufacturing and telephone customer service positions have been outsourced to places like Mexico, China, and India. Ever since this migration started we have struggled to maintain these types of industries in the US because outsourcing can produce the goods and perform the services at a much lower cost then we can.
What I want to address today is the need for our retail establishments serving the general public to invest in sound Six Sigma and Lean process improvement principles. The processes used in many of our service industries, from the Automotive to Healthcare industries, are extremely flawed and waste much time and money between waiting, errors, reprocessing, and rework. Besides the shear inconvenience and high prices that are resultant in these ineffective procedures, they put our health at risk. Directly in the case of a medical misdiagnosis or flawed work on our automobiles, indirectly they put us at risk through the stress and aggravation one must endure to get things done properly on the first, second or even third attempt! Never mind the stress of the high prices.
With this said, the application of the ideas and concepts of Six Sigma for reducing the variation in process, (never mind advance concepts of Design of Experiments or Monte Carlo simulation etc . . .) and applying Lean principles for reducing waste – such as applying Poke yoke to tasks performed by relatively unskilled staff when performed incorrectly – have the ability to negatively affect our health.
In all fairness, the American workers are the best in the world. It is not their fault; they are given faulty and sometimes broken processes and systems to work with no support or time to fix them. I am sure they are as frustrated, or more so, than the general public, because they are caught in the middle and have to deal with us when things go wrong. How do we fix this? Please tell me your thoughts on this!