Managers generate 80% of our COPQ

Time is most perishable and expensive commodity - Qimpro

Stop blaming the worker

TIME is the most perishable and expensive commodity.

God, in his wisdom, has gifted each of us the same number of hours per day.

In most organizations, the CEO and worker each have eight hours per day. These eight hours are divided between planning and operations.

The bottom of the pyramid worker spends a few minutes planning his/her work for the day. Most of the day is consumed in defined operations.

On the other hand, the CEO spends most of his/her time in strategic and tactical planning, and a few minutes in operations, such as, signing documents.

As one evolves from worker to supervisor, to manager, to director, to even CEO………at each level, planning time increases, and operations time decreases.

Very neat.

So what is the problem?

When workers get promoted to supervisors, they embrace the increased planning, but refuse to shed some of the operations that are now in their DNA.

Ultimately, neither this new supervisor, nor the successor worker, own some of the operations. Each believes the other is responsible This results in a Management Gap. The Gap creates Fires. And so the “blame” culture is born.

The fires are of a greater magnitude when a supervisor is made a manager; and even more when a manager is made a director.

These chronic fires generate Cost Of Poor Quality (COPQ). COPQ is about 20% of total costs in any organization.

Only 20% of the 20% is worker-controllable! The rest is management-controllable.

So, do you now see the problem?

These management-controllable problems require surgery, using Quality Improvement structured methodologies. The surgeons are from management.

With a structured Quality Improvement approach for solving management-controllable chronic problems, we not only reduce the COPQ, but also eliminate the prevailing environment of blame. Plus we unlock precious TIME.

I have seen this happen at Mahindra Tractor Division.

I have also seen this happen at Larsen & Toubro, Heavy Engineering Division.

And so, you may ask, what about worker-controllable problems? Yes, they too must be solved. But with milder versions of structured Quality Improvement. Example: Quality Circles.

The primary objective of Quality Circles is motivation of workforce. The secondary is Quality Improvement.

Random Thoughts:

  1. India is a rich nation. We can afford the luxury of co-existing with COPQ.
  2. Customers pay for our COPQ! No sweat.
  3. Do you pay for your suppliers COPQ? Ouch!
  4. The Management Gap is even more accented in public institutions. That’s Ok. Tax payers fund the COPQ!
  5. Nature does not generate waste.
  6. Benchmark Nature to develop innovative solutions.



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8 thoughts on “Managers generate 80% of our COPQ”

  • Viren, I wish we all know and understand COPQ. Post World War 2, the Japanese understood the cost of chronic waste – COPQ. Their first breakthrough was in the mid-1960s in the field of entertainment electronics. A decade later, the breakthrough was in the auto sector.

    The attributes of an effective leader are: Facilitator, Trainer, Coach, Councillor, Recognizer.

  • Great Article Quality circle in one of the excellent tool to motivate employee and improve Quality 👍💪

  • You can say it Mr Lulla but Managers do not like to be told that they created the problem and will have to solve it! They want to believe that the workers created the problem and they have to solve it which is why the first reaction to any problem is “who is responsible”! The MIS is structured to affix blame and not ascertain root cause. Time we accepted harsh reality and started working on the root cause. A recent case in point – The Indian Financial Budget this year has reduced Top Management earnings by upto 26% because of the surcharge on incomes above Rs 1cr. What is the industry reaction – in order to retain Top Management talent they want to compensate Top Management for this “loss”! This is going to impact people down the line. Never heard anybody say – earn this compensation by reducing COPQ.

    • The vital few problems are just 20%. Their impact on total COPQ is 80%. The vital few managers should solve the vital few problems.

      The symptoms of problems appear in operations. The root causes are in purchase, maintenance, training, planning, etc.

      Incentives should be linked to COPQ saved by a Quality Improvement Team. This COPQ should be a by-product of Quality Improvement.

  • To err is human.
    Despite that we manage to make defect free products and services.
    Guess it is 100% on how to manage to achieve the defect free goal.

    • Customers do not react with “To forgive is divine”

      We need to learn Reliability Engineering from Space Research Organizations and Defense Manufacturers.

      Unfortunately, in the commercial world this zero defect goal is considered sub-optimal… As dictated by the Finance Head…. the Priest of the organization. Their mantra is: The cure should not cost more than the disease.

  • Sir you hit the nail on the head . My experience also tell me the same .. The same I have understood from the Japanese over these years. Management is a huge responsibility to drive throughput and performance but as people they carry the same behaviour in the ir earlier roles and so carry the COPQ associated with that. No doubt we see over management carries through in their new roles and behavioural issues linked to that . The challenge is to free the employees to perform by curling ( bureaucracy. constantly on a improvement mode and celebrating improvement . After all every improvement happens step by step and Motivator and Facilitators would be a more appropriate description of the behaviour of such responsible leaders .Enabling people to strive for higher levels of performance is the key .. I think ‘manager’ is passe.

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