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Tool? Technique? What's The Difference?

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#1 Jim Wade

Jim Wade

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Posted 13 July 2004 - 08:20 AM

We talk of tools and techniques for 'quality'. But its unclear to me where techniques stop and tools start.

I'vs shown below a list of what I think are examples of tools.

Can someone provide a list of techniques? And/or some more tools?

rgds Jim

Affinity Diagram
Arrow Diagram
Cause and effect diagram
Control chart
Critical examination matrix
Five whys
Matrix Data Analysis
Matrix Diagram
Paired decisions
Pareto diagram
Process Decision Program Chart
Process map
Relations Diagram
Run chart
Scatter diagram
Systematic Diagram

#2 Simon


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Posted 13 July 2004 - 09:54 AM

If somebody called me a ‘technique' I wouldn't be offended! :lol:

After many years I've learned that the best place to start when faced with this kind of conundrum is a dictionary. As an aside - the other day a colleague and I spent over two hours trying to fix a computer software problem. We were getting nowhere fast until we had a ‘Eureka' moment and decided to look in the help instructions. :doh:

There are various definitions of tools and techniques in dictionaries but I pulled out the two below as they suit my argument best.

Something regarded as necessary to the carrying out of one's occupation or profession: Words are the tools of our trade.

The systematic procedure by which a complex or scientific task is accomplished.

I would say there is a difference between the two although sometimes pigeon holing them is a technique in itself. For example the Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) technique is a bit more complex than the histogram or Pareto chart tools, although you may well use them when working on a SMED improvement project.

On the Saferpak website we do compartmentalise into quality tools (which I quite like) and quality techniques (which I don't like and could easily have been called methodologies or something). On the other hand we could quite easily have had them all as quality tools. But can you imagine the length of the menu!

Quality Tools:
Affinity Diagram, Brainstorming, Cause and Effect, Control Chart, FMEA, Force Field Analysis, Histogram, Pareto Chart, Poka Yoke, Process Mapping, Project Management, QFD, Statistics...

Quality Techniques:
ABM, Benchmarking, Business Excellence, The Five S's, Hoshin Kanri, Kaizen, Lean, Plan Do Study Act, Process Management, Six Sigma, SMED, TPM, TQM...

The above are the tools and techniques we cover on the web site so far. It's not exhaustive, it's not an exact science, but it keeps it all neat and tidy.


Best Regards,

Simon Timperley
IFSQN Administrator

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