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What is QFD?

ime was when a man could order a pair of shoes directly from the cobbler. By measuring the foot himself and personally handling all aspects of manufacturing, the cobbler could assure the customer would be satisfied.

The growing distance between producers and users in today's industrial society is a problem that concerns Yoji Akao, one of the founders of Quality Function Deployment.

He developed QFD to bring this personal interface to modern manufacturing. It links the needs of the customer with marketing, design, development, engineering, manufacturing, and service functions. It can be used for service and software products, as well.

How does QFD differ from other quality initiatives?

Quality Function Deployment is quite different from traditional quality systems which aim at minimizing negative quality (such as defects, poor service). With those systems, the best you can get is zero defects - which is not competitive when all the players are good. In addition to eliminating defects, we must also maximize positive quality (such as ease of use, fun, luxury). This creates value.

Quality Function Deployment is the only comprehensive quality system aimed specifically at satisfying the customer. It concentrates on maximizing customer satisfaction (positive quality) - measured by metrics, such as repeat business and market share. It focuses on delivering value by seeking out both spoken and unspoken needs, translating these into design targets, and communicating this throughout the organization. Further, it allows customers to prioritize their requirements, tells us how we are doing compared to our competitors, and then directs us to optimize those features that will bring the greatest competitive advantage.

How do Mazur's QFD Belt programs differ from other training?

Glenn Mazur (Japan Business Consultants) is an internationally recognized authority on Quality Function Deployment. He has been awarded the Akao Prize and certified at the highest level of QFDdmastery, the QFDdRed Belt, by Yoji Akao, co-founder of Quality Function Deployment.

In 2000, Akao instructed Mazur to rejuvenate how QFD was being practiced in the West in order to resolve complaints that it consumed too much time for the knowledge delivered. A major problem was that most books and training required that teams perform 4 Phases of linked matrices (planning, parts, manufacturing, and production) that were impossible to complete with the time and resources available in today's "right-sized" companies. Their needs were obvious - more knowledge in less time.

The QFDdGreen Belt and QFDdBlack Belt courses were designed to custom tailor it to be integrated into a company's existing product development process to eliminate redundancies. Since each company and its products were unique, there could be no single approach that would work for everyone. Analysis showed, however, there were some commonalities such as quantifying project deliverables, identifying and visiting key customers to discover their true needs (not just what they said), benchmarking competitors, translating critical customer needs into functional requirements for design, build, and delivery, and assuring that these were protected in the project budget and schedule.

The so-called 4-Phase method mentioned above simply could not do this job. Why? It had been derived in 1983 from a reliability study done on a copy machine component causing a paper feed problem. It was most useful in projects solving known problems with existing built-to-print components. The 4-Phase approach was never intended for new products, system or end product design, or non-assembled products, such as chemicals, services, or software. Yet, it was widely disseminated by those with limited QFD skills because it was easy to explain and simple, which proved to be its undoing. No wonder, early proponents of this 4-Phase model often referred to it as "Kindergarten QFD."

The new Belt courses are built on the Blitz QFD engine and incorporate mini-matrices when needed. The goal is to satisfy the most important needs of the customer by identifying critical tasks end-to-end throughout the company.  So whether you are new to the method or a seasoned practitioner, these courses will invigorate your products with customer value and faster time to market.

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