Abu Dhabi Distribution Company is the organization which is responsible for distributing such services as water and electricity supply to the customers all over the country. The company tries to make all possible to create the conditions for high quality and systematic supply of water and electricity in every home.
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The development of safe and economical water and electricity distribution are the priorities for the company. Having been working since 1998, the organization has already designed a specific plan for performance, still, there are always ways for development. There are a lot of different quality management techniques and tools which may help Abu Dhabi Distribution Company increase its efficiency and effectiveness.
The affinity diagram is a tool for management and planning which is highly effective. Affinity diagram is created out of a plethora of ideas and opinions and is clubbed together into rational groups. Usage of this tool purely depends on the planning time which would ultimately result in extraordinary dividends due to the ideas that are generated being implemented properly. Dissimilar to the most basic tools for enhancement which deal with collection and analysis of complicated data, this tool predominantly focuses on concerns and ideas.
“An affinity diagram is the result of a creative process focused on finding the major things that are affecting a problem by generating a number of ideas, issues, or opinions. The process identifies these ideas, groups, and concept which tie each grouping together” (Syque Quality). An affinity diagram is also useful if any incremental changes are required. It offers immense clarity about the broad themes impacting the particular situation.
There seven different steps that are involved while planning for Affinity diagram. They are:
- The first step in the affinity diagram is to get the right team in place. The team should be of roughly six members who are acquainted about the situation. They should be relatively familiar and coordinating with each other and accustomed to working together.
- List the key issues. The affinity process will be more efficient if the issue is randomly stated. The statement should be unbiased for averting direct response to ideas. “When the phrasing of the statement is decided it should be written down on the top of the flipchart or board so that it can be visible to the group” (ICMR – The ICFAI Center for Management Research).
- The ideas are to be generated clearly and recorded appropriately. This step uses the conventional brainstorming guideline.
- Display of the generated idea cards. The idea cards are to be randomly laid out to ensure that the team members can take a look at it.
- Arranging the cards in to normal groupings forms the next step. The objective of this step collection of ideas which are identical. All the cards need to be kept visible during the process so that each group member can consider and reassess the arrangement as it appears. If cards are superfluous, overlie them but in such a way they are able be easily read.
- Header creation would be the next step. Identify a specific card in each grouping which gives a brief description about the central theme which again ties up the entire group together. In quite a few cases the central theme may not be evident on the card. In such cases, the team needs to decide on the central theme and create a brief.
- The diagram thus finished needs to be created. The team should keep altering the affinity diagram until they are able to reflect the actual situation accurately on it.
Uses of affinity diagram:
- Going through Large Volumes of Data.
- When there is a huge amount of data to look at and analyze, Affinity Diagram comes as a great help in offering a structure and organization to such huge data.
Nominal Group Technique (NGT)
The nominal group technique (NGT) is a decision making method. This technique is used in groups of different sizes where the decisions every group member is considered. Initially, each member of the group gives their individual opinion about the proposed solution briefly. A few facilitators usually support the sharing and discussion made by each member of the group, thus identifying the actual solution and the varied ideas that are gathered.
“In the basic method, the number of solutions received are totaled, and the solution with the lowest (i.e. most favored) total ranking is selected as the final decision. This technique was originally developed by Dulbecco and VandeVen, and has been applied to adult education program planning by Vedros” (ICMR – The ICFAI Center for Management Research).
NGT comprise of more than one dimensions of effective decision-making groups. In spite of taking individual decisions into considerations, group decisions have increased the number of solutions generated by groups. The high amount of various kinds of inputs tends to result in high quality decisions being made.
The nominal groups result in more number of unique ideas, increased unbiased participation by more individuals as a group, better feeling of achievement, and increased levels of satisfaction considering about the group’s efficiency and the quality of the ideas that are generated as a result.
Nominal group technique consists of five different steps
- Introduction and explanation forms the first and foremost step of the process. The facilitator motivates the participants and explains them the fundamental objective and the process of the meeting.
- Silent generation of ideas is the second step. In this stage, the participants list out their own ideas on a white sheet without any kind of discussion with other members of the group.
- Idea sharing is the third step of the NGT process. In this step the group members share all their ideas with one another. The ideas that are therefore shared are listed out on a flip chart as stated by the individual. The process lasts till all ideas are presented. There is no discussion about the items at this stage. This process takes 15–30 minutes approximately.
- Group discussion: Any idea or ideas which may not be clear to every member of the group are verbally discussed in this step. It is imperative to ensure that the course is as impartial as possible, averting judgment and condemnation. This stage is expected to take 30–45 minutes.
- Voting and ranking is the last step of the NGT process. This step entails prioritizing the ideas recorded in the previous steps in accordance to the original question. Post the voting and ranking process, instant results in response to the question is offered to the group members and eventually the meeting is concluded after getting a particular outcome.
Advantages of NGT
The very important benefit is that it averts two very vital issues involving group interactions.
- “Some members are not open to suggest ideas because they are concerned about being criticized.
- Second, some members are reluctant to create conflict in groups” (ICMR – The ICFAI Center for Management Research).
NGT has the clear benefit of reducing differences and making sure comparatively equal participation. It may also, in quite a few cases help in saving immense amount of time. Other advantages are creation of numerous ideas.
Disadvantage of NGT
- NGT does not have the flexibility to handle just one problem at a time and this is the most important disadvantage.
- Another disadvantage is time that this technique takes for the entire preparation. There is no quick turnaround time involved. Facilities are to be meticulously planned and set.
Flowcharting in Quality Management
“A flowchart is a diagrammatic representation of an algorithm or process, which consists of steps in the form of boxes and the boxes, are of various kinds” ((ICMR)). The order of the boxes is connected through arrows. Flow chart gives a step-by-step solution to a particular problem. The boxes mentioned above show the process operations.
The importance of the errors is in showing the connections between those processes and their flow. Data flows are not normally indicated in a flowchart; however they are alternatively indicated through data flow diagrams. There are a wide variety of flowcharts, and every individual type has got its own types of boxes and notational principles. The two general types of flowchart boxes are:
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- “A processing step, usually called activity, and denoted as a rectangular box
- A decision usually denoted as a diamond” (Edosomwan).
A flowchart can be defined as “cross-functional” diagram that is segregated into different elements that clarify the control of different organizational units. This technique permits the user to gain knowledge about the responsibility of making appropriate decisions. “Common alternate names used for flowchart include: Process flow chart, Functional flow chart Process chart, Functional process chart, Business process model, Process model, Process flow diagram, Work flow diagram, Business flow diagram” (Edosomwan).
Listed below are few of the symbols used in flowcharts:
- Start and end symbols are the circled shaped rectangles, which have the word “Start” or “End written inside the rectangle.
- Arrows are the ones that indicate the “flow of control”. Arrows indicate the control passage from one section to another.
- Subroutines – The rectangle shaped boxes are the subroutines. They contain the double-struck vertical edges and they are used to display complex processes. Such complexity may be further illustrated with the help of another flowchart separately.
- Input/output is indicated with the help of a parallelogram.
Prepare conditional is in the form of a hexagon. This illustrates operations which do not possess any kind of effect. They just prepare a value for the next conditional step.
Conditional or decision are usually indicated through the shape of a diamond or rhombus symbol. They typically illustrate where a decision is crucial, generally through a Yes/No question. The conditional symbol is atypical as it has two arrows coming out of it, one starting from the base point and the right side; while the other illustrating to Yes/True, the other one corresponds to No/False. It is very important to label the arrows always.
Junction symbol is seen as a black blob indicating the pint of multiple control flows and their union in a single exit flow. This symbol normally has more than one arrow coming into it. However, there can be just one arrow which would be exiting.
Labeled connectors are displayed by a circle. Labeled connectors are utilized in intricate diagrams as a replacement for arrows. “For every single label, the “outflow” connector needs to be unique always; however there may be any number of “inflow” connectors as a junction in control flow is implied” (ICMR – The ICFAI Center for Management Research).
Concurrency symbol – This symbol can be identified as the double transverse line. There are numerous arrows in the concurrency symbol and the same illustrate the entry and exit. These symbols are used when there exist two or more control flows operations at a time. It is essential to bear in mind that these connections are arranged logically in proper order. All processes essentially are required to flow either from the top to the bottom or from left to right.
Uses of flowchart in Quality management:
- It aides in the creation of process documentation.
- Flow is a main stay for procedural programming.
- Visualize the process.
- Show step by step details of your current process.
- Overview detail procedures.
- Offer common reference points in the course of the meeting
- Illustrate a desired flow of a new improved system.
- Hassle free identification of non value added points.
- Offer great help in different kinds of analysis, quality design, strict documentation, or management of a process or program.
In conclusion, it should be mentioned that affinity diagram is one of the tools who may be used in quality management. Using the nominal group technique as a way for brainstorming, it is possible to create a flowchart aimed at identifying the gaps in quality management and decisions making.
Edosomwan, J. A. Integrating Productivity and Quality Management. Florida: CRC Press, 1995. Print.
(ICMR), ICFAI Center for Management Research. Operations Management. Hyderabad: ICFAI Center for Management Research (ICMR), 2003. Web.
ICMR – The ICFAI Center for Management Research. Introduction to Quantitative Methods. Hyderabad: ICMR – The ICFAI Center for Management Research, 2004. Web.