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Monday, May 13, 2013

15 Tell-Tale Signs of Eventual Quality Failure Looming in Your Business

The 2010 BP Deepwater Rig Explosion

Product quality problems don’t happen overnight, nor are they the result of a crippled procedure or one poorly conceived policy. The problems have brewed over time, sending out signals that risks to product quality are growing.

A breakdown of quality is not an event. It is a process. Long before a quality failure explodes on the front page of the paper, a company’s quality system has been in trouble because of corporate decisions, policies and programs.

The following are 15 tell-tale signs of eventual quality failure looming in your business:

  1. Quality management efforts not connected to competitive strategy or business results.
  2. Focus solely on cleaning up messes rather than delivering superior products and customer service.
  3. Failure to spread responsibility across the entire organization.
  4. Focusing on the external results rather than the internal processes that produce them.
  5. Fragmented, partial approaches yielding to "empowerment, without a clear strategy is chaos."
  6. Defining quality based on minimum standards.
  7. Repetitive and recurring crisis situations. 
  8. The external quality message doesn’t match internal practices.
  9. Failing to use a corrective action process effectively to eliminate defects.
  10. An internal focus that is not aimed at the customer.
  11. Performance measures that reinforce quantity over quality.
  12. Assuming everyone knows what “nonconforming” looks like.
  13. Thinking a common cause to problems is operator error and relying on retraining as a corrective action.
  14. Focus on speeding up the customer response to issues instead of reducing the occurrence of issues.
  15. Quality management effort not aligned within the company resulting in silos of execution.
Although quality management practices have been implemented by many organizations all over the world, such implementations have often failed. This failure rate is largely attributed to the lack of integration between quality management practices and business strategy.

In a world of increased competitiveness and demanding customers who expect to have the highest quality products at the lowest possible prices, quality is widely recognized as a source of competitive advantage and is increasingly elevated to strategic importance as an essential determinant of success. Hence, the relationship between quality management and strategy is of great interest to practitioners.

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