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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Going Beyond Quality

This month, ASQ’s CEO, Bill Troy asks if quality is ambitious enough?
We have all gone through some kind of conversion.  We know in our hearts we can help make this world work better.  We don’t need to be over-the-top, but we should have the confidence to tell our story, understand our own value, and inspire others. How do we encourage those who work in quality to understand their own value? How do we spread the message of quality in a marketplace overflowing with ideas about how to boost profitability and ever-changing management trends?
The job of a quality professional is not easy. You have to want to make a difference because there are those who will put up a fight. Quality assurance can be a thankless job, if everything goes right, the project managers get the credit, if something goes wrong, quality management gets the blame, after all they touched it last. 

Quality assurance is all about character, courage, activism and passion representing the moral qualities, ethical standards and principles to fight for quality. Quality professionals must be able to challenge the current norms and take on executives that balk at change. Those in quality understand the need and role of quality in the organization yet the further you are from the customer the more likely this understanding is lost. 

Quality should be part of the culture of the company. Employing quality methods and practices in everything you do provides a firm foundation for your business and can be a determining factor in your success.

Quality must go beyond our product or service. We cannot add it at the end of the line or inspect it into the product. At best that is only a false sense of security. If we want a quality product it must be made with quality processes by quality minded people. A focus on quality must be intrinsic to the company culture and practices for the customer to take notice.

Quality is not something we can rely on a single person or group to perform. The responsibility of delivering quality products and services to customers lies on the shoulders of every single individual who is even remotely associated with the organization. It is not only the management but also employees irrespective of their designation, suppliers, clients, customers who need to come up with improvement ideas to make foolproof systems and processes to deliver quality products which meet and exceed the expectations of end- users.

A quality organization understands that the realization of quality must be continually energized and regenerated. Successful implementation of a quality focused organization requires ambition, commitment, and patience.

Ambition is the driving force for change. Ambition can be developed in an organization, but it must be held first by senior executives in the enterprise. And, if the organization is to be more than a collection of ambitious individuals, its leaders must be able to articulate a shared, compelling purpose and must engage others in its pursuit. In sharing their dreams, leaders encourage others to dream, and to perform.

Ambition is wanting to move to the next step. Sometimes opportunity is staring us in the face but we may not recognize it. Ambitious people look at the status quo and see ways to do things differently. Ambition may be the driver that challenges assumptions. Part of a leader’s responsibility is to identify the need for positive change and to usher in that change. Looking to do things differently can be a force for the good. 

In my opinion successful businesses are those that not only sell quality to their employees but make it part of the culture or what they do daily. The organization must make quality a top priority for everyone in the company, from top managers to the workers building product.

Excellence in quality improves customer loyalty, elevates brand position, reduces cost, attracts new customers, and draws the best and brightest talent. A strong orientation for quality helps to achieve business goals. Achieving excellence in quality provides significant momentum for the business and is a source of pride for all employees. A comprehensive quality management system is a key attribute to the longevity and success of an organization.

Unfortunately, there are not enough organization that understand that going beyond quality is the means to bring value to customers. Too many waste their resources on things the customer doesn't want. Too many look at their competition instead of listening to their customers. Too many can't sustain their initiatives for even several years. As quality professionals and the like it is our responsibility to continuously improve how we bring value to the customer. Going beyond quality brings true, lasting value. 

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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