"Quality comes not from inspection but from improvement of the process." — Mary Walton
Unfortunately, there are not enough organizations that understand quality. Quality is not additive or final. It must go beyond the 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.
Nothing is perfect and everything can be improved. We must continuously review how and what we do in order to find better ways of doing it. This means accepting the occasional mistake and having the courage to admit it, along with the strength of mind to find a better way of doing things in the future.
Generally the most effective way to achieve quality is to avoid having defects in the first place. It is much less costly to prevent a problem from ever happening than it is to find and correct the problem after it has occurred. Focusing on prevention activities whose purpose is to reduce the number of defects is better. Companies employ many techniques to prevent defects for example statistical process control, quality engineering, training, and a variety of tools from the Lean and Six Sigma tool kit.
Process-centric thinking does not have to be overly complex. Sometimes, all it takes is a thoughtful examination to uncover significant areas for improvement. Rather than tolerating mistakes and repeat errors, facilitate process-centric thinking to continually improve, correct, and overcome execution difficulties.
Start with the idea of preventing defects, not waiting until they are identified and correcting them. Many companies have an active Zero Defects policy where defect prevention is paramount and quality inspection is almost just a verification of what they already know – that the product is defect free. If we can start with quality and maintain that quality throughout the process we will have a quality product.