Before I list the answers to the acronym quiz in Avoid Acronyms, what did you answer for NOPP? If we have the same point of reference, you would say NOPP stands for Normal Probability Paper. But what if you said NOPP stood for National Oceanographic Partnership Program? Would you be wrong? No, that answer is just as correct as my interpretation. The same is true if you thought NOPP stood for National Office of Pollution Prevention, or National Office Products and Printing or even Notice of Privacy Practices.
Your understanding depends on your point of view and knowledge base. If we must tackle the cultural shift required to successfully implement lean principles, don't let simple things like acronyms (or even Japanese terms used in lean) create roadblock to understanding. I am not saying to eliminate all acronyms or even the Japanese terms. Just realize that their use can be a major roadblock to gaining understanding. So if you can't avoid acronyms, put in some countermeasures.
Assume people around you don't know what any of the acronyms or words mean. Spend time teaching them so that everyone is on the same level of understanding.
2. Spell it out
Make it your responsibility to spell it out for them. Regardless if it is spoken or written, add the long version or meaning with the acronym (or potentially unfamiliar terms like the Japanese lean terms). I try to do this in all my training programs and even on this blog site, but sometimes I can easily forget to include the meanings. I apologize to everyone if I have not made it clear or made it difficult to easily understand when I slip in acronyms and Japanese lean terms.
3. Create an Acronym Dictionary and Glossary of Terms
In some easily accessible format (web page, section in your quality manual, your employee handbook, etc) that will be used by everyone, create an acronym dictionary and glossary of terms. This reference document will help everybody understand what is meant by these acronyms and terms.
For examples and references:
The Free Dictionary is a cool site on the web to get information on acronyms and terms.
Several lean sites have acronym and definitions like:
iSix Sigma online dictionary
Curious Cat online dictionary
Glossarist for listing of different industry related dictionaries
Also, check out the Johnson Controls Automotive Group Supplier Handbook online for their listing of acronyms and glossary of terms. The Johnson Controls Automotive Group Supplier Handbook is full of other great examples for quality and continuous improvement ideas/formats. Side quality note: Johnson Controls supplier expectation is 0 PPM (zero defects)! Cool Expectations!
Acronym Answers: *(From my point of view)
FOB Free on Board
COGS Cost of Goods Sold
MRP Material Requirements Planning
QFD Quality Function Deployment
DPMO Defects Per Million Opportunities
KPOV Key Process Output Variable
NOPP Normal Probability Paper*
COPQ Cost Of Poor Quality
HIKE High Impact Kaizen Event
SMED Single Minute Exchange of Dies
OTED One Touch Exchange of Dies
JIT Just in Time