Monday, August 26, 2013

A Successful Company Begins and Ends With a Quality Culture

Culture is the shared beliefs, values, attitudes, institutions, and behavior patterns that characterize the members of a community or organization. In a healthy business culture, what's good for the company and for customers comes together and becomes the driving force behind what everyone does.

Leaders of business have a powerful influence on the development of the company's culture. You might not be very aware of your culture, or you may just think of it as "the way we do things around here." But your company does have a culture, and it probably reflects your leader’s values for good or bad: People will have adopted the manager’s behaviors and attitudes toward their work.

Quality is not just about implementing a system or working towards a set of standards. It is an attitude, a way of working, that not only improves an organization but also the way the organization works.

Senior managers must create and maintain buy-in for quality improvement at all levels of the organization. Management commitment is vital to overcoming uncertainty, establishing credibility and providing the stability to allow change to gain a foothold in the organization. Leadership must manage the organization’s culture and be a visible advocate for quality--“talk the talk and walk the walk.”

Talk is free, but quality takes work. Senior management must set the organization’s quality policy and strategies. Leaders must create sensitivity to changing and emerging customer requirements/needs throughout the organization.

To create a foundation for success, senior management must demonstrate commitment to change by removing roadblocks, providing necessary resources (training, time, etc.) and inviting contributions from all members of the workforce.

It is not enough to use slogans and posters to promote commitment to the quality journey. Quality requires understanding various tools (such as problem solving, root cause analysis, preventive/corrective action, lessons learned) and implementation of methodology, so that results become more predictable and not a surprise. Management commitment is required to introduce these tools and methodology in the organization – through investment as well as personal participation – and sustain their use throughout the organization.

The story of any successful company begins and ends with quality. Quality improvement places a stronger emphasis on leadership rather than management competencies and attributes. Leadership’s critical task is to integrate, institutionalize and internalize quality.

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1 comment:

  1. Agreed that quality requires high-level support and buy-in. It's as much a function as it is a mindset, and it's always inspiring to see a senior quality manager's footprint in the company's culture. We recently wrote some tips for instilling this type of culture: