This month, my weekly postings will focus on a concept presented to me by an industrial safety expert, Bob Novak, called “original design intent”.

Walk in to any factory, find a product being made and ask your chaperone to show you the specs. If you end up in the QC department, huddled around a gray filing cabinet, it’s your chance as a Business Leader to discuss what your Customer expects.

Specifications help define the key attributes of a product. They are like the rings of an oak tree, from which all the wonderful history of that product can be seen and understood. At the center of it all is the original design intent of that product, born during the first commercial deal; the rings are developed during scale-up and elaborated across years of sales history.

Ask your Team the “why” for each spec and you will often find the intended specs among bolt-ons and dead wood. The richness in this process comes from uncovering the written versus the unwritten, the hard specs versus the soft ones, the regulatory compliance specs and the industry standards. And always remember, for any QC test or SPC limit to be valuable, it must be a predictor of Customer satisfaction!