Posts Tagged ‘Failure Modes’

Improve Product Robustness at the Expense of Predicting It

In a previous post I defined the term brand-damaging threshold and said I’d talk about how to improve product robustness. So, here goes.

Every company is at a different stage in their formalized product robustness efforts, so it’s challenging to talk meaningfully to everyone. But there are two especially meaningful principles that have served me well through the years.

I had the privilege of working with Don Clausing – Total Quality Design, The House of Quality, Enhanced QFD, and Robust Quality. I vividly remember the conversation where Don shared one of his secrets. As we watched a robustness test run, Don, in his terse way, barked out a guiding principle of improving product robustness. He said:

“Improve robustness at the expense of predicting it.”

I asked Don what the hell he meant (he liked to make his students work for it), and after some prodding, he went on to explain why it’s so important. He said people spend far too much time running tests to predict robustness and then spend even more time calculating mean time between failures (MTBF). If that’s not enough, then they spend time arguing about MTBFs and the confidence intervals. He said companies should dedicate all their time and energy improving robustness. “That’s what matters to the customer,” he said. And then he continued with something like: “Predicting robustness is worse than a simple waste of time.” (He wasn’t that polite.) But I still didn’t get it. What’s the big deal about predicting robustness? Read the rest of this entry »

Mike Shipulski Mike Shipulski
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