State of Self-Control

To place human beings in a state of self-control we must provide people with the following (Juran 2005):

Knowledge of what they are supposed to do

This includes clear and complete work procedures, performance standards, and adequate selection and training of personnel


  • Are there written product specifications, process specifications, and work instructions? If written down in more than one place, do they all agree? Are they legible? Are they conveniently accessible to the worker?
  • Does the worker receive specification changes automatically and promptly?
  • Does the worker know what to do with defective raw material?
  • Have responsibilities for decisions and actions been clearly defined?
  • Do workers consider the standards attainable?
  • Does the specification define the relative importance of different quality characteristics? If control charts or other control techniques are to be used, is their relationship to product specifications clear?
  • Are standards for visual defects displayed in the work area?
  • Are the written specifications given to the worker the same as the criteria used by inspectors? Are deviations from the specification often allowed?
  • Does the worker know how the product is used?
  • Does the worker know the effect on future operations and product performance if the specification is not met?
  • Does the personnel selection process adequately match worker skills with job requirements?
  • Has the worker been adequately trained to understand the specification and perform the steps needed to meet the specifications?
  • Has the worker been evaluated by testing or other means to see whether he or she is qualified?

Knowledge of what they are actually doing (performance)

This includes adequate review of work and feedback of review results


  • Are gauges provided to the worker? Do they provide numerical measurements rather than simply sorting good from bad? Are they precise enough? Are they regularly checked for accuracy?
  • Is the worker told how often to sample the work? Is sufficient time allowed?
  • Is the worker told how to evaluate measurements to decide when to adjust the process and when to leave it alone?
  • Is a checking procedure in place to ensure that the worker follows instructions on sampling work and making process adjustments?
  • Are inspection results provided to the worker, and are these results reviewed by the supervisor with the worker?
  • Is the feedback timely and in enough detail to correct problem areas? Have personnel been asked what detail is needed in the feedback?
  • Do personnel receive a detailed report of errors by specific type of error?
  • Does feedback include positive comments in addition to negative?
  • Is negative feedback given in private?
  • Are certain types of errors tracked with feedback from external customers? Could some of these be tracked with an internal early indicator?

Ability and desire to regulate the process for minimum variation

This includes a process and job design capable of meeting quality objectives; process adjustments that will minimize variation; adequate worker training in adjusting the process; process maintenance to maintain the inherent process capability; a strong quality culture and environment


  • Has the quality capability of the process been measured to include both inherent variability and variability due to time? Is the capability checked periodically?
  • Has the design of the job used the principles of error proofing?
  • Has equipment, including any software, been designed to be compatible with the abilities and limitations of workers?
  • Has the worker been told how often  to reset the process or how to evaluate measurements to decide when the process should be reset?
  • Can the worker make a process adjustment to eliminate defects? Under what conditions should the worker adjust the process? When should the worker shut down the machine and seek more help? Whose help?
  • Have the worker actions that cause defects and the necessary preventative action been communicated to the worker, preferably in written form?
  • Can workers institute job changes that they show will provide benefits? Are workers encouraged to suggest changes?
  • Do some workers possess a hidden knack that needs to be discovered and transmitted to all workers?
  • Have workers been provided with the time and training to identify problems, analyze problems, and develop solutions? Does the training include diagnostic training to look for patterns of errors and determine sources and causes?
  • Is there sufficient effort to create and maintain awareness of quality?
  • Is there evidence of management leadership?
  • Have provisions been made for self-development and empowerment of personnel?
  • Have provisions been made for participation of personnel as a means of inspiring action?
  • Have provisions been made for recognition and rewards for personnel?

The three basic criteria for self-control make possible a separation of defects into categories of “controllability”, of which the most important are:

  • Worker controllable – a defect or nonconformity is worker controllable if all three criteria for self-control have been met
  • Management controllable – a defect or nonconformity is management controllable if one or more of the criteria for self-control have not been met
Whether the defects or nonconformities in a plant are mainly management controllable is of the highest order of importance. In the experience of the author, defects are about 80% management controllable.