This Month's Theme is Essential FMEA Facilitation Skills
Next month's theme will be achieving balanced participation in FMEA meetings
Every month in FMEA Corner, join Carl Carlson, a noted expert in the field of FMEAs and facilitation, as he addresses a different FMEA theme (based on his book Effective FMEAs) and also answers your questions.
Questions and answers are a great way to learn about FMEAs, for both experienced and less experienced FMEA practitioners. Please feel free to ask any question about any aspect of FMEAs. Send your questions to Carl.Carlson@EffectiveFMEAs.com, and your contact information will be kept anonymous. All questions will be answered, even if they are not featured in the FMEA Corner.
fa·cil·i·ta·tion [fuh-sil-i-tey-shuhn, noun]
The Cambridge Business Dictionary defines "facilitate" as "to help people deal with a process or reach an agreement or solution without getting directly involved in the process or discussion yourself."
What is an FMEA facilitator?
An FMEA facilitator is a person trained in both FMEA procedures and facilitation techniques, who leads an FMEA team to successful completion of an FMEA project, with associated risk reduced to an acceptable level.
Why is FMEA facilitation important? The simple fact is that most FMEA teams will not achieve a high quality result without expert facilitation.
What are the basic skills that support FMEA facilitation?
Expert facilitation requires learning and becoming comfortable with the basic facilitation skills:
- Asking Probing Questions
- Encouraging Participation
- Asking Thought-Starter Questions
- Active Listening
- Controlling Discussion
- Making Decisions
- Conflict Management
- Facilitator Interventions
- Managing Time
These skills will be explored in future FMEA articles, and are also discussed in detail in chapter 10 of the book Effective FMEAs.
What are the roles of an FMEA facilitator?
The role of the facilitator is to 1) drive the team through the process, 2) sort the insignificant inputs from those inputs that affect customer expectations, experience and/or safety, and 3) support team members to do their best thinking.
The FMEA facilitator's primary roles and responsibilities are:
- Determine the scope and timing of the project
- Establish and train the FMEA team
- Ensure that all pre-work is done before the first meeting (including ground rules and assumptions, gather information, etc.)
- Perform the FMEA analysis up through the recommended actions
- Review the FMEA recommended actions with management for all high severities and high RPNs
- Execute the recommended actions
- Provide linkage with other processes, such as Test Plans, Process Control Plans, etc.
- Verify that the FMEA Quality Objectives were met
- Review and approve critical supplier FMEAs
- Verify that risk reduction has been achieved
The FMEA facilitator should be a person who is willing and able to lead the FMEA team through the project to a successful conclusion. He/she must be trained and experienced in the fundamentals of FMEA and the skills of facilitation.
How does Xfmea support FMEA facilitation roles?
Each of the roles and responsibilities of an FMEA facilitator have specific supportive features in Xfmea. The following is a brief outline of the supportive features, in red.
- Determine the scope and timing of the project. Reference: FMEA Block Diagram, Analysis Plan and System Hierarchy.
- Establish and train the FMEA team. Reference: Analysis Plan, "Team" tab.
- Ensure that all pre-work is done before the first meeting (including ground rules and assumptions, gather information, etc.). Reference: Analysis Plan, "Ground Rules and Assumptions" tab.
- Perform the FMEA analysis up through the recommended actions. Reference: FMEA Hierarchy / Worksheet, including full functionality.
- Review the FMEA recommended actions with management for all high severities and high RPNs. Reference: Query and Reports functionality.
- Execute the recommended actions. Reference: FMEA Recommended Actions functionality and FMEA Query.
- Provide linkage with other processes, such as Test Plans, Process Control Plans, etc. Reference: DVP&R and Control Plan functionality.
- Verify that the FMEA Quality Objectives are met. Reference: Analysis Plan, "Quality Survey" tab.
- Review and approve critical supplier FMEAs. Attach supplier FMEA review results (including assessment of Quality Objectives) to the corresponding system hierarchy item.
- Verify that risk reduction has been achieved. Review final severity, occurrence and detection risk with the FMEA team and management. Use the Query and Reports functionality.
What other topics are of concern to FMEA facilitators?
FMEA facilitators must be able to run effective meetings. Some of the characteristics of well-run meetings include:
- Starting and ending meetings on time
- Publishing and sticking to agendas
- Developing and getting agreement on meeting "norms"
- Always maintaining focus on the meeting objectives
- Summarizing results and follow-up actions at end of meeting
- Preparing required documents, visuals, network access, software, etc.
- Ensuring decision-making options are clear
- Encouraging healthy member behaviors
- Providing periodic process checks
- Implementing a process to create true closure
- Providing detailed minutes and specific follow-up plans
In spite of the best efforts of a team facilitator, sometimes there is one person who dominates discussion. If the problem persists, here are a few possible remedies.
- Ensure that every effort has been made to balance discussion according to the advice on encouraging participation and controlling discussion, and referring to meeting norms.
- As the facilitator, make sure that you understand the most recent point made by the person who is dominating the meeting discussion. Tell this person that you understand the point they are making and ask them to listen while other team members provide their input to the discussion. If this does not remedy the situation, take a break and talk over the problem with the person. Make sure they understand the need for balanced input from all meeting participants.
- If all else fails, the person dominating the discussion will need to be replaced. The success of the FMEA depends on balanced input from all team members.
I’ve always wanted to know about FMEAs
The important thing is not to stop questioning. - Albert Einstein
A HotWire reader submitted the following question to Carl Carlson. To submit your own question about any aspect of FMEA theory or application, e-mail Carl at Carl.Carlson@EffectiveFMEAs.com.
I hope you can help me with an explanation regarding the Requirements definition in PFMEA from AIAG 4th edition.
Page 79 – "Requirements are the inputs to the process specified to meet design intent and other customer requirements."
Page 71 – "Requirements are the output of each operation/step and relate the requirements for the product. The requirements provide a description of what should be achieved at each operation/step."
I'm a little uncertain which definitions should we apply to have consistent analysis. Thanks again for the support.
Carl: I’ll begin my answer with a few FMEA fundamentals that apply to Process FMEAs and requirements.
Manufacturing and assembly processes have outputs and inputs. In theory, the inputs must be controlled in order to control the outputs.
Here is a fictitious example of outputs and inputs of a bicycle wheel assembly process, from my book:
Significant Product Characteristics (outputs) should be considered when defining the corresponding failure mode of the Process FMEA.
Significant Process Characteristics (inputs) should be considered when defining the corresponding cause of the Process FMEA.
The AIAG excerpt you highlight from page 71 says, "Requirements are the output of each operation/step and relate the requirements for the product. The requirements provide a description of what should be achieved at each operation/step." This AIAG excerpt goes on to say, "Requirements provide the team with a basis to identify potential failure modes." This is a good representation of the definition and role of requirements in a Process FMEA, and is consistent with my teaching and book.
The excerpt on page 79 says, "Requirements are the inputs to the process specified to meet design intent and other customer requirements." This excerpt goes on to say, "If there are multiple requirements with respect to a given function, each should be aligned on the form with the respective associated failure modes." Since I was not involved in the writing of this version of AIAG, I cannot say for sure what the authors specifically meant. Usually, process inputs are the process characteristics that must be controlled in order to meet the required process outputs. Possibly the authors meant that the process team should be aware of the requirements when defining the process steps that meet design intent.
About the Author
Carl S. Carlson is a consultant and instructor in the areas of FMEA, reliability program planning and other reliability engineering disciplines. He has 35 years of experience in reliability testing, engineering and management positions, and is currently supporting clients from a wide variety of industries, including clients of HBM Prenscia. Previously, he worked at General Motors, most recently senior manager for the Advanced Reliability Group. His responsibilities included FMEAs for North American operations, developing and implementing advanced reliability methods and managing teams of reliability engineers. Previous to General Motors, he worked as a Research and Development Engineer for Litton Systems, Inertial Navigation Division. Mr. Carlson co-chaired the cross-industry team that developed the commercial FMEA standard (SAE J1739, 2002 version), participated in the development of SAE JA 1000/1 Reliability Program Standard Implementation Guide, served for five years as Vice Chair for the SAE's G-11 Reliability Division and was a four-year member of the Reliability and Maintainability Symposium (RAMS) Advisory Board. He holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan and completed the 2-course Reliability Engineering sequence from the University of Maryland's Masters in Reliability Engineering program. He is a Senior Member of ASQ and a Certified Reliability Engineer.
Selected material for FMEA Corner articles is excerpted from the book Effective FMEAs, published by John Wiley & Sons, ©2012. Information about the book Effective FMEAs, along with useful FMEA aids, links and checklists can be found on www.effectivefmeas.com. Carl Carlson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.