10 Building Blocks for a “Quality Culture” (Part 2)
By Jim Moran, BRC Quality Consultant
In the first half of this article we introduced the notion of 10 Building Blocks that can help you build a quality culture within your organization. We started 10 rules of Simplicity (as found in Edward de Bono’s book ‘Simplicity’), and adapted them to apply to Environmental, Energy, Health and Safety, Information Security, or any Management System you are using.
A quick review of Building Blocks 1 through 5…
- You need to put a very high value on Quality.
- You must be determined to seek Quality.
- You need to understand your processes and their interactions very well.
- You need to design alternatives and possibilities.
- You need to challenge and discard existing elements of your Management System.
We continue now with blocks 6 through 10, keeping in mind that these 10 building blocks provide practical ideas to create a quality culture…and that this approach will also guide Top Management onto the path to meet the requirements for the ISO 9001:2015 Standard, clause 5.1.1 Leadership.
6) You need to be prepared to start over again
Sometimes we just have to know when to quit, or admit that a ‘modification’ to an existing process is just not going to give us the best result. It’s easier to modify, (and usually less expensive) but it may a bit like putting a coat of paint on a leaking foundation. Ultimately, we’ll be disappointed.
We need to do a ‘cost versus benefit’ analysis and an estimate of the return on investment of doing a ground up new process versus retrofitting an existing one. Then Top Management buy in may happen and everybody wins. Top Management will be sending signals about the journey to a quality culture and those signals will make the road smooth or bumpy.
7) You need to use concepts
We need to walk out of the trees and look at the forest. Details are important, but can stifle our ‘lateral’ or ‘out of the box’ thinking. We need to see the long view in order to find a better way forward. Buried in details we’re like a fish trying to look at the water it’s swimming in. From outside the forest, we can set a more general direction to developing the culture, tied into our strategic direction.
Focus on the details keeps our perspective too narrow to design alternatives and see possibilities. ‘Vague and blurry’ can sometimes open up the idea flow. Not good for brain surgery, but great for stimulating culture building.
8) You may need to break things down into smaller units
We’ve seen the Process Approach – taking inputs, performing a number of activities and creating results that get passed on to the next stage. It’s much easier to change 100 things by 1% than to change 1 thing by 100%.
Incremental change generally has less resistance and this applies to attitudes, as well. Processes can be broken into steps, diagrammed, studied and improved. This also adds an element of objectivity to the whole exercise – we’re not ‘doing quality’ just because the boss wants it, it’s helping us, too.
If a person’s job becomes easier or more satisfying, it will help build a positive mood around a quality culture.
9) You need to be ready to trade off other values in favour of Quality
There’s an anecdotal ‘constraint model’ in the world of Engineering: Quality – Price – Timing: pick any two. By staying focused on ‘errors are unacceptable’ (or at least have a rate of errors we can live with) we may have to give up some complex processes and find simpler ones that still get the job done but keep quality where we want it. Measuring stable processes, for example, can be a time-waster that we can trade off in favour of getting it out our door more quickly or delivering the service more efficiently.
Goldblatt’s work in the field of Theory of Constraints is much more comprehensive, but well worth exploring to get the full picture of how constraints can inhibit success on the road to a Quality Culture.
10) You need to know for whose sake quality is being designed into your organization
Here’s a quote from ISO 9000, clause 2.2.1 – the companion document to ISO 9001:
Quality focused organizations embrace a culture that inspires and drives behaviour, attitude, actions and processes in order to deliver value through fulfilling the requirements of interested parties.
The quality of an organization’s products and services is determined by not only the ability to satisfy a particular customer but also the intended and unintended impact on other interested parties.
The quality of products and services include not only their intended function, but also their perceived value and benefit to the customer.