The Ultimate Healthy Home – Part 2 (final)

I am back after a one month hiatus. It was an eventful month, I won’t be talking about it here except for a small relevant part. I will be moving into an apartment as I mentioned before. So, I went to a home deco fair last Sunday to get some ideas. The prevalent theme in home furnishing is aesthetically driven. Unlike my parents’ generation when granite, maple, leather were key words synonymous with quality indicating the pursuit of material exquisitivity, this generation can live with synthetic material as long as it looks good. EHS (Environmental, Health and Safety) requirements are being marketed by some but mostly come across as gimmicky.

To me, home deco should be natural and health promoting. I find that a healthy living environment is half a battle won in the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. For a healthy lifestyle can only be culminated through consistent, long term healthy habits that takes effort to cultivate. It’s ironic; we all know that we should sleep early, drink plenty of water and exercise but so often we fail to do so. We always seem to be caught up in something at eleven o’clock (a presentation for tomorrow’s meeting, the final episode of a tear jerking soap opera), fresh drinking water is always out of reach when we need it most and the jogging track is a few traffic lights away. Recognizing my own weak will power, I am going to furnish my apartment in ways that encourage healthy practices.

The bedroom should be simple and cozy with an enticing bed.

Image from
Image from
There can be a small shelf with some books for light reading but I will not bring a study or a TV in. The general ceiling lighting should be of a romantic shade while the bedside task light is for reading. I will have a jug of fresh drinking water by the bed.
I will have another jug of drinking water in the living hall. The arrangement should be ergonomic for a day that start with a glass of water on the way to the balcony where a three-in-one therapy of body stretching, deep breathing and eye relaxation (by looking at greeneries more than 20 feet away) can be achieved.

Moving on to the kitchen, there will be an oats dispenser. A bowl of oats plus a splash of milk from the fridge is how simple a healthy breakfast can be prepared.

I can think of many other ways to achieve health through design, can’t wait to implement them.

Future of Quality – Part 3 (final)

How then can a good shared level of understanding be achieved and sustained across the functions and processes? We are talking about knowledge management here. “Knowledge in this context includes technology and systems applied to achieve strategic objectives, including customer satisfaction, competitive advantage and, ultimately, financial return.” The primary tool to manage knowledge is an operating system to ensure top-down goal alignment;

Example of a BMS operating system

Example of a BMS operating system

From the vision to the objectives/targets. At the base of the operating system are teams that carry out the strategic improvement activities. And at the centre of it is a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) review mechanism that translate customer expectations and competitive benchmarks to measurable results vice versa. KPIs are identified and spelled out across functions/processes, monitored against targets and communicated on a monthly or quarterly basis using KPI review processes and platforms.

‘How can the quality function facilitate?’ The roles of the quality function would naturally be to:

  • Establish the processes to capture, analyze, understand and communicate external requirements viz product/process/system requirements and capabilities, failure analysis, benchmarking
  • Develop and deploy the process knowledge viz analysis and improvement methods
  • Conduct internal audit

Quality methods and systems are applied in an increasingly border-less manner. “The quality function is uniquely suited to facilitate the development, implementation, assessment and continual improvement of the system. It can guide the expansion of the scope and application of the system to processes not traditionally found within an ISO 9000 based system, including:
– Staffing and competency management processes (as opposed to training)
– Supply chain management and procurement processes (as opposed to purchasing)
– Sales and business development processes (as opposed to contract review)
– Integrated program management, product development and launch processes (as opposed to quality planning)”

Reference: Reflections on the Future of Quality by Dave Watkins

See also:

A point to add, at the core of the system, a good ICT platform is pivotal.

As I write this, the business landscape has changed. People are talking about the Future of Competition.

Suggested reading: New Age of Innovation by CK Prahalad and MS Krishnan

Future of Quality – Part 2

BMS is not a term for another best practice. There are two points to be clarified. First, BMS is not a registered trademark such as 6 Sigma, TQM, ISO or Balanced Scorecard. It is a general term like QMS. Second, Balanced Scorecard, ironically, can be classified as a primitive example of a BMS operating system. See outline below.


BMS is a high level management system evolved from QMS through a natural selection process; the role of the quality function has evolved from control of product to specification, to process control and reduction of variation, to development and implementation of a process based QMS (designed to achieve and sustain continual improvement and customer satisfaction), to a BMS with a scope extending beyond product/service quality to entreprise excellence. “An entreprise in this context may be described as an entity, which is comprised of resources organized into functions and processes and employs technology (a combination of product and process technology), to provide goods or services of value to the customer.”

This evolution should directly engage all entreprise functions and processes in the BMS, including human resource management, sales and marketing, project management, design and process engineering, supply chain management, strategic planning and data processing, with the quality function serving a facilitative role. The QMS/BMS requires methods of process control, problem solving and quantitative analysis be effectively applied to these processes and functional areas.

“While the resources (people, equipment, facilities and energy) engaged in these processes may be organized into arbitrarily designated functions or departments for administrative purposes, the BMS approach recognizes all these elements exist for a sole purpose; to support, provision and enhance the value generating processes.” A recapitulation:

  • Quality, as a management system objective, is entreprise excellence
  • All functions and processes should be engaged in the controlling and improving processes
  • All resources across the functions should be engaged in the value generating processes

The next questions are ‘How then can a good shared level of understanding be achieved and sustained across the functions and processes?’ and ‘How can the quality function facilitate?’. (… to be continued)

The Ultimate Healthy Home – Part 1

I have an idea. An idea of a healthy home. A countryside house by a river, surrounded by lush greeneries. Like the soulful illustration by E. M. Wimperis, of Jane Eyre at Lowood.

Jane Eyre in Lowood by E. M. Wimperis

Jane Eyre at Lowood by E. M. Wimperis

Every morning, I wake up to sounds of chirping birds. Every breath I take fills my lungs with chlorophyll tinted fresh air. As I swing open the windows, I am greeted by the warm dawn sunlight. As I step outside, the cool breeze caressing my face and the soothing sound of flowing stream welcome me to a world created by God.

Coming back to reality, I will be moving into an apartment with my husband. An urban cage surrounded by concrete jungle. I will be waking up to sounds of honking cars. Every breath I take will fill my lungs with carbon monoxide polluted air. Welcome to the man-created world.

Can the healthy home concept be recreated in my apartment? How?

Quality by Design

Before I continue to talk about the future of quality, lets take a step backwards and look at how quality control methodology had evolved through the decades. Being a thirtysomething, I spent a large part of the 90s in school. I had a strong perception of what Quality Control (QC) was even then thanks to the QC ladies in the laboratory that my late father supervised. They sat all day, each of them operating a tabletop equipment. There were rubber samples in different forms and sizes for different tests. They tested the samples piece by piece and scribbled the results down in an almost mechanical pattern.

QC = Inspection

When I started working in the late 90s, the wave of change was hitting our shore. Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Management (QM) became the more popular terms. Fate had it that I was reappointed from a Process Engineer to a ‘QA’ Executive and I was to oversee the ‘QA’ department covering QC inspection as well as ISO documentation.

QC => QA = Inspection + Documentation

Year 2000 was a landmark year to most of us due to the release of ISO9001 : 2000 quality management standard. It provided the perfect platform for me to revamp the quality management system of the manufacturing company I was working for, a Taiwanese-German joint venture. The more holistic new standard encouraged documentation to be structured in ways harmonious with people and processes. People from all levels and functions are responsible for quality. I reduced QC headcount drastically and transferred inspection responsibility at every production stage fully to the production workers. The remaining QC personnel were reassigned to do “upstream QC” work e.g. supplier management and product development to ensure good material and product design. We shifted our focus from detecting and rejecting bad end product to preventing bad product and detecting them early.

QC => QA => QM = Inspection + Documentation + Design (Supplier Management + Product Development + Process Control)

Stepping into the whitewater world of the 21st century, the practice of quality by design helped us sail through.

What now? Read ‘Future of Quality’ posts.

Obsessive Compulsive, Perfectionistic or ‘Systemanic’?

I am theory orientated. I trust logic and reason, swear by standard and order, and adopted a highly systematic approach in doing things at work. At home, a possibly related but different set of behaviours or symptoms are inherent in me:

  • When I was using a collage-blanket, I had to fold it in a certain way with my favourite part of the collage facing upwards every morning and that would make my day.
  • Bottles of products from my beauty regime have to be arranged from the tallest bottle to the lowest on my dressing table.
  • I maintain my mailbox frequently to ensure that the number of emails in my inbox and sent items are even numbers.

Am I obsessive compulsive? Am I perfectionistic? Can’t find the term for my condition yet. I am calling it systemania.

Future of Quality – Part 1

As a quality practitioner for more than 10 years and being a theorist, the million-dollar question to me is ‘What is the future of quality?’. Dave Watkins wrote:

“In 50 Words Or Less
• The quality management system lags behind evolving concepts of organizational excellence.
• The quality function needs to focus on deliverables and their contribution to value.
• Quality, as a management system objective, is really excellence and must characterize the enterprise as a whole, not just its products or services.

To be effective in this context, the QMS must morph into a business management system (BMS).” Eureka, this is it! BMS is not a term for another best practice. (… to be continued)