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Monday, August 27, 2012

ASQ Post: Creating a Quality Culture

ASQ’s blog topic for August by Paul Borawski is all about culture. Paul asks the Influential Voices to express their views specifically around a quality focused culture.
When you’re in a culture of quality, how does it feel? What attitudes support the success of a culture of quality?
Culture is a topic with plenty written but unfortunately poorly followed. This highlights the lack of understanding for what it takes to create a quality focused culture.

Building a quality culture is not an easy task. A quality culture starts with managers who understand and believe the implications of the systems view and know the necessity of serving customers in order to succeed. The result of that understanding is a culture where a positive internal environment and the creation of delighted customers go together. It is a culture that naturally emphasizes continuous improvement of processes, one that results in a healthy workplace, satisfied customers, and a growing, profitable company.

Here are a few vital points necessary for creating a climate focused on quality:

Commitment to Quality
Commitment from management is a “MUST”. In fact, it is the driving force. Procedures, tools, and database are all useless if the management do not want to see a Quality culture in the organization. The employees of the organization will not care, if the management themselves do not show the attitude to follow the right path.

Capability of Skill
Capability refers to having the skills to undertake work successfully. As is true with any successful implementation, you need the right team blend and capable people in the team, to execute these things. There will be a need to raise the basic knowledge, understanding, and maturity for each and every member of the organization.

Honest Communication
People function best in a culture where open, honest communication is understood. You may be surprised how many innovative solutions can be developed when the truth is consistently shared throughout the organization. An important way to encourage truth-telling is by creating a culture where people listen to one another.

Focus on Processes
Focus on processes helps everyone understand even further the importance of teamwork and cooperation and the interdependence of their work. It places a premium on implementing the tools that make management and improvement of processes more efficient and effective. The emphasis is on continuous improvement through the use of quality tools to measure process performance and teamwork

Understand Your Customer’s Needs and Expectation
For any business the customer is the lifeblood. Every process and every action internal or external should ultimately result in the value addition to the customer and the customer’s delight. Therefore it is essential that the customer needs, wants and expectations are identified before you embark on a quality building program

It is said that the quality of an organization can never exceed the quality of the minds that make it up. The key to success lies in how well each employee is motivated and inspired to deliver quality work.

To create a culture of quality, an organization must align its organizational processes with these vital points. Quality leadership starts with the leaders who plant the seeds, create the environment for success, empower others and deploy quality throughout the organization.

I’m part of the ASQ Influential Voices program. While I receive an honorarium from ASQ for my commitment, the thoughts and opinions expressed on my blog are my own.

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  1. I agree with the point I see you making (and I think it is often missed): culture isn't about some nice agreements, it is what creates a robust management system that succeeds over the long term. The culture is not the aim. The culture is what helps achieve good results over the long term.

    As you state focus on process and capability are critical. Evaluate "cultural success" by if your culture enforces/leads to actions that will lead to success.

    1. Right. Culture is made up from our daily habits. Focus on the process to achieve the desired results not the other way around. By focusing on the process we form the habits necessary to achieve that success we want.