Last time we found the cause of the SS III right movement swing cylinder hoses pulling out of the fitting at the block end of the hose.  So, what next?  But, first, a little background.

Do you remember the title of the first post in this series?  It was, “These hoses have lousy crimps.”  Before we were called in, this client was sure the problem was bad crimps on the hydraulic hose fittings.  To them, that was the only explanation.  How else could a hydraulic hose pull out of a fitting?  Not to be pointing fingers, but, they came to this conclusion without gathering any information!

After less than an hour of data gathering we could rule out bad crimps.  Refer to our second post in this series for details.  So, the first tip of this series: drawing a conclusion without any data gathering often leads to taking costly, time consuming inappropriate action.

Now to the fix.  Do you think that making the hose specification longer and leaving it at that will truly solve this problem?  Hope you said, “No!”  This incident led Mighty Mountain Manufacturing to take a close look at all their hose specifications.  To their surprise, about 65% of their hose length specifications were not optimal.  So, they fixed them all!  Now the second tip of this series: finding the cause of a Deviation often brings to light an opportunity!

Next time we’ll start to look at another real-life problem upon which we worked.


We’re closing in on the solution!

On February 14, 2017, in Deviation Analysis, Problem Solving, by George Loyer

The first Deviation Analysis session, among other things, gave us the following:

  • Something changed on or about 18 July
  • Whatever sponsors this deviation happens in Operations Test
  • There must be something different about the SS III when compared to the SS I & SS II as it is the only one with the failures.

We decided to look at “something changed on or about 18 July’’ first.

We found that on 10 July a shipment of hoses was received from a new supplier.  That lines up quite nicely with the first failed hose.  Mighty Mountain Mining keeps a 6 day + /- safety stock on hand.  They replenish stock in a loose First in First Out (FIFO) stock rotation.  The hoses are restocked from the back of the bin and withdrawn from the front of the bin.

That led us to look at the hose specs.  We found that the hose in question had the following spec: (click image to enlarge)

Further investigation determined that the old supplier was always on the “long” side of the spec and the new supplier is on the “short” side of the spec.  At this point we did not know if hose length was a factor, but, it is something we noted for future reference.

Next, we looked at “whatever sponsors this deviation happens in Operations Test.” We found that in operations test each function is driven to its extreme limit 10 times.  We determined that the failure occurs anywhere from the 2nd to 8th test of the swing cylinder.  We knew this was significant and also noted it for future reference.

Next time we’ll look at “There must be something different about the SS III when compared to the SS I & SS II as it is the only one with the failures.”




We got the answer!

On February 1, 2017, in Deviation Analysis, Problem Solving, by George Loyer

Last time we looked at “something changed on or about 18 July” and “whatever sponsors this deviation happens in Operations Test.”  This time we’ll look at, “there must be something different about the SS III when compared to the SS I & SS II as it is the only one with the failures.”

The team dealing with “there must be something different about the SS III when compared to the SS I & SS II” found that the SS III has a hydraulic block that is different from that of the SS I & SS II.  Click link to see the diagrams

As soon as we saw that the SS III had relocated the position on the hydraulic block of the swing cylinder ports we knew we had something upon which to follow up.  One of the team members pointed out that the specification for hose length had not changed when the ports were relocated.  A quick visual inspection of an SS III made it clear that there was tension on the hose at the block fitting.  When a hose on the lower end of the length specification was installed, there was enough force to pull the hose out of the fitting after a few full swings in Operations Test.

Next time well discuss the “fix”.


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SS I & II vs. SS III Hydraulic Block

On February 1, 2017, in Deviation Analysis, by George Loyer

Click image to enlarge


Last time I concluded by saying, “Next time I’ll share with you what we found during the Deviation Analysis.”  Because not every member of the problem-solving team had hands-on experience, the first thing we did was to make sure everyone had a good understanding of the SS series backhoes.  See below: (click images to enlarge)

By the end of the first Deviation Analysis session we determined the following:

  • All the failed hoses were SS III swing cylinder right movement hoses
  • Each and every failed hose pulled out of the fitting at the hydraulic block end of the hose.
  • Bursting, leaking, getting cut, which are the most common type of hydraulic hose failures, were not observed.
  • The first failure was on 18 July.
  • There was 1 failure on 18 July.
  • There were 4 failures on 21 July.
  • There were 6 failures on 22 July.
  • There were 9 failures on 23 July.
  • All the failures occurred during the operations test.
  • To date there have been a total of 20 hose failures.

Based upon the above we were able to do the following:

  • We ruled out defective fittings, and / or defective crimping because all the hoses that failed are on the SS III swing cylinder right movement hose.  It is statistically impossible for all 20 of the hoses with defective fittings, and / or defective crimping could have “randomly” been installed on the SS III swing cylinder right movement position on the SS III hydraulic block.
  • Something changed on or about 18 July.
  • Although we cannot prove it statistically, the failure rate appears to be increasing.
  • Whatever sponsors this deviation happens in Operations Test.
  • There must be something different about the SS III when compared to the SS I & SS II as it is the only one with the failures.

In this two and one half hour Deviation Analysis session, we made excellent progress.  Next time I’ll share with you what we did next.


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These hoses have lousy crimps!

On December 14, 2016, in Case Study, Deviation Analysis, by George Loyer

Last time I concluded by saying, “Next time I’ll start sharing with you some stories about the companies with which we have worked,” so here goes.  A company I’ll call Mighty Mountain Mining (MMM) is an internationally known manufacturer of medium and heavy construction equipment.  Their specialty is earth-moving equipment.

The smallest earth moving equipment they make is their line of hydraulic backhoes.  They currently offer three backhoe models.  The SuperScoop I (SS-I) and SuperScoop II (SS-II) were introduced simultaneously five years ago.  They have one of the best overall service and durability records in the industry for their class of equipment.

Ten months ago MMM introduced the SuperScoop III (SS-III), a large capacity heavy duty back hoe.  It was designed to fill the gap between backhoes and their larger excavators.  The SS-III has the same basic design as the SS-I and SS-II.  The major differences between the SS-III and the earlier models are:

  • a higher capacity hydraulic system
  • a stronger alloy steel reinforced frame
  • a 30% larger digging bucket

The SS-III had the best initial product record of any piece of equipment that MMM ever produced.  Then a series of SS-III product failures began occurring.  Those SS-III failures were a big concern at headquarters.  The timing could not have been worse!  MMM was about to start a major marketing campaign for the whole SS line of backhoes.

The cause of these failures needed to be found quickly and eliminated.  A Problem-Solving Team was, therefor, formed.  We were called in to lead that team.  When we arrived, we were told that the problem was that hydraulic hoses were pulling completely out of the fitting.  See below:

Next time I’ll share with you what we found during the Deviation Analysis that followed.



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All other things being equal if there is an increase in involvement there tends to be an increase in commitment.  We can, therefore, conclude that if you want more commitment all you need to do is increase involvement.  But, there is a catch.  As involvement increases, so does time.  And, unfortunately, time is a very scarce resource in many organizations and to many people.

This puts the leader in some what of a bind.  The secret is to get the most commitment in the least time.  As a good rule of thumb, the bigger the issue, the more you should involve your team.

When choosing a Leadership Behavior there are other things for the leader to consider.  One is the development of personnel.  All good leaders invest time to develop their people.  If, for example, your people have never been exposed to group decision making, an investment in learning GII in a situation where finding the one best course of action is not the issue ( is a good idea.

Another consideration is moving the team up or down the involvement scale.  Any time a leader joins an existing team he or she must determine the level of involvement to which the team is accustomed.  Although it is possible to move a team in either direction on the involvement scale moving the team down the scale, that is less involvement, is generally more difficult.  Although people like involvement, over the long haul too much involvement does not improve commitment, it just wastes time.

One final thing to consider is what we call the Involvement “Bank Account”.  Every leader has an involvement bank account, whether he or she likes it or not.  Every time the leader properly involves the team he or she gets a small deposit in his or her involvement bank account.  Over time the involvement account builds up.  Every time the leader violates proper involvement he or she has a huge withdrawal from the involvement bank account.  Leaders tend to lose commitment in general if their involvement bank account goes below zero.

Properly involving a team maximizes the probability of Situational Success (  Smart team leaders build up a very substantial reserve in their involvement bank account.  When the leader has a substantial reserve he or she can violate the Involvement Guidelines, for a good reason, and not loose commitment.  He or she has “earned the right” to violate the Involvement Guidelines but he or she will dramatically draw down the reserve in their involvement bank account.  No leader can repeatedly violate the Involvement Guidelines and retain long term commitment.

Send us an e-mail or give us a call 518/480-4906 and we’ll be glad to tell you more about Mastering Involvement,

Tip of this series: Want results? Properly involve your team.

This wraps up our series on Mastering Involvement.




Over the past few weeks we’ve looked at the guidelines which will help a team leader select an appropriate Leadership Behavior.  In Vroom and Yetton’s research (see Leadership and Decision Making, Victor H. Vroom & Phillip W. Yetton, University of Pittsburgh Press, ISBN 0-8229-5265-3) they looked at both Situational Success and Situational Failure from the point of view of following the Guidelines and not following the Guidelines.  Their research showed Situational Success about 80% of the time if the Guidelines are followed and Situational Success of about 30% if the guidelines are not followed.  That means there is a 20% chance of failure even if the Guidelines are followed.  But, there is a 70% chance of failure if they are not followed.

On the surface this doesn’t look like that good of a deal.  Why look at some Guidelines that are only 80% accurate and can still lead to failure about 20% of the time.  Part of the answer lies in how Vroom and Yetton define Situational Success.  To Vroom and Yetton Situational Success means that all the objectives of the course of action chosen were either met or exceeded.  It means that the course of action chosen was highly successful in every way.  It didn’t “just squeak by”.  It was a highly successful in every way.  Vroom and Yetton classify a failure not only as a course of action that outright failed but also as a course of action that eventually succeeded but only after lots of extra effort and re-work.  With this as our definition of “success”, 80% looks great.

Tip of the day:  Use the Mastering Involvement Guidelines wisely and you’ll up your Situational Success.



Although GII is a very effective way of maximizing involvement and commitment, it doesn’t just happen.  Let’s take another look at the GII Guidelines I introduced last week.

GII Guidelines

  • Make sure there is goal agreement between the team and the organization (if the course of action chosen for this issue does make a difference).
  • ALWAYS announce in advance that it is a GII situation.
  • Make sure the team has the skills and knowledge to do the job.
  • State any constraints in advance.
  • Establish time frame guidelines in advance.
  • State the “fall back” position in advance.
  • Be prepared to “live with” ANY solution the team selects (which does not conflict with the goals of the organization)
  • ALWAYS announce in advance that it is a GII situation.

Again, it is not a mistake that “always announce in advance that it is a GII situation” shows up twice.  It is that important.

There is a good reason why it is that important.  People often ask, “What can you do to guarantee that GII will be successful?”  The answer is there is no guarantee of success with any leadership behavior.  If you structure GII properly you have an extremely high probability it will be successful.

Yet, if you were to ask me, “How can I guarantee that GII will fail?”  I can give you a sure-fire way.  Do not announce GII in advance.  This prompts the obvious, “Why?”  So, here goes, if you announce GII after the team has started to work on the issue you have just invalidated everything each and every team member both thought and said up to that point.  The reason?  People present their case differently if they think they do not own the conclusion.  In GII they do own the conclusion.  The way they present their position for GII is different from the way they present it in a non-GII mode.  Up to the instant the leader announces GII the team has been presenting their position assuming the leader owns the conclusion.  By announcing GII after the discussion has started the leader has totally changed the ground rules.  This, in effect, invalidates everything that has happened up to that point.  It is a totally new ball game.

If we look back to last week’s post ( we recall the issue of fires and explosions in a chemical plant.  If the leader chooses to use GII the advanced announcement to the team should be something like this, “I’ve called you together to choose a course of action.  This will be a GII choice.  The topic of the GII will be, Select Best Way to Eliminate Fires and Explosions.”  Notice the team knows it is a GII before they know the topic.

This is what “Always announce in advance that it is a GII situation means.”  Why you ask?  Because the team hears the assignment differently when they know in advance that they own the solution.  The team is primed for a GII.

Now back to the issue of the leader announcing GII after the discussion has started.  Conceptually, most leaders understand the value of GII.  Yet, for those situations where they are on the line for that important team course of action, they are reluctant to leave the choice up to the team.  So, they start as a CII.  Things go well and it looks like the team will choose a course of action with which make both the leader and the team are happy.  So, the leader jumps to GII.  Bad choice!

Tip of the day:  If you are going to use GII ANNOUNCE IT IN ADVANCE!

Next time we’ll look at what Vroom & Yetton call “Situational Success.”



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