For real improvement, quality must be integrated into the corporate culture


For real improvement, quality must be integrated into the corporate culture

Companies with a behavior-based culture of quality can more easily shift from change

Posted: Wednesday December 15th, 2021 – 12:03 PM

I I just received and read the “2021 ASQE Insights on Excellence Brief Executive. “ The brief examines how quality initiatives progress in the digital age, based on the views and experiences of 542 quality executives and professionals from global companies. Here we go again, I thought.

Yes, technology is driving change, change is bringing new quality issues, and new quality issues are driving quality professionals to come up with new quality performance metrics and improvements. I’ve been reading these same platitudes for years. We believe that systemic quality issues can be solved with new programs, new spreadsheets, or new ways of calculating quality performance. Obviously, some of the solutions go to the root cause of a specific problem. But the systemic factor, which has always been present and which is at the heart of all questions of quality as technology drives change, is management.

In most businesses, management is the root cause of the inability to keep up with technology or the market, or the generational changes required to hire young employees. It’s all a question of culture and behavior. As an example, let’s compare and contrast safety and quality.

Safety has become a cultural necessity in most industrial enterprises. The reason is simple: the cost. Poor security has the potential to have a much higher cost to a business: lost work hours, OSHA restrictions on business, loss of life, lawsuits for negligence in security protocols, and more. The solution is to develop a culture of safety. How to develop a culture of safety? The simple answer is through management driven behaviors. Changing the behavior of workers so that they can work safely when no one is looking is the basis of a behavior-based safety culture. To be effective and systemic throughout the company, it must be directed, supported and made essential by general management.

The same is true of quality. So why haven’t more companies embraced a behavior-based culture of quality? The answer is not that simple and that is why we continue on the road of perpetual retrospective, always asking ourselves where quality fits in a changing world. While quality is characterized as important, # 1 position, or some other marketing slogan, it is often not treated as a business imperative in all departments of the company in the same way as safety. . If quality is not a commercial imperative, how to react or adapt to the advent of new technologies that bring about change? As with safety, the answer usually lies in examining the cost of poor quality.

While quality cost issues may not have the same deadly impact as safety, the financial costs of discarded products or the costs of labor to rework or replace are often lost in the noise of gross margin or manufacturing overheads. It’s just part of the cost of doing business, I’ve heard some executives say. However, the cost can be significantly higher than imagined. What is perhaps even more alarming is that the cost of quality is almost always associated only with manufacturing or service. But engineering, sales, human resources, marketing, sales and the rest are also responsible for the quality within their departments. Unfortunately, it is rarely measured and therefore the cost of poor performance may not even be considered when measuring the company’s comprehensive income statement.

At a company where I helped non-traditional departments establish quality performance metrics, the resulting savings after just six months of measurement totaled a surprising $ 58 million in annualized savings. This money went directly to the bottom line of the business. To do this, it was enough to establish a culture of quality in which each department contributed to improving poor quality by measuring, correcting and improving its quality performance.

Companies with a behavior-based culture of quality can more easily make the transition through changes in business, technology or other market forces. The reason is that they have made it their business to release quality as a tool to support a culture of quality. This is exactly where the aforementioned executive brief disappointed me. He made no mention of how a behavior-based culture of quality could help any business or industry to transition and adapt quickly to changes within their industry.

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