In today’s business world, many organizations now have quality experts and quality programs. For many technical organizations, an extensive quality program utilizing higher level-mathematics does not present the best solution. Rather, what is required is a down-to-earth common sense approach to quality. Leaders of organizations are constantly wrestling with how to improve things. Yet while entrepreneurs might vigorously pursue other key tools to help their businesses grow, they often let their company’s attention and commitment toward quality evolve naturally.
Research conducted by the American Society for Quality (ASQ), has shown that achieving quality goals requires strong commitment: setting a compelling vision, company-wide shared values and complimentary performance metrics and incentives. A report dubbed “Culture of Quality: Accelerating Growth and Performance in the Enterprise” that involved the analysis of responses from more than 2,000 executives and quality professionals (members of ASQ), showed that while two-thirds of executives say their organizations exhibit a culture of quality, only half say that these values are clearly understood throughout the organization.
In as much as the result from this research was more geared towards larger organizations, lessons from the report apply to organizations of all sizes. The success of any business is strongly determined by its ability to pursue quality. A weak culture of quality can lead to low levels of customer satisfaction, product and service quality and even employee morale. As a result of these research findings, ASQ developed the following list, outlining the top 10 signs that a “culture of quality” is lacking in an organization:
The CEO and other executives rarely discuss quality – let alone performance against quality objectives: The importance of quality tends to be ignored by many organizations mainly because they do not understand how to implement quality systems relevant to their line of business. This causes them to shun attempts to discuss it at management level.
The company’s quality vision is either non-existent or has minimal linkage to business strategy: Many companies have quality assurance departments that are functioning without a proper vision that governs the activities they do on a daily basis and the specific standards they maintain. This causes conflict between the division/department and the business strategy.
Managers throughout the organization either fail to consistently emphasize quality or are resistant to quality initiatives: Human beings tend to loathe change but it is really necessary if an organization wants to embrace the culture of quality. Most managers do not emphasize the importance of quality to other staff and therefore quality does not drive the initiatives that the business carries out. This is very dangerous.
The organization has few if any feedback loops for continuous improvement of processes: Communication is a very big aspect of quality assurance and without it, the system cannot thrive. Communication is the life-blood of quality assurance. This is because there must be feedback loops for continuous improvement around the whole organization.
The company lacks formal mechanisms for collecting and analyzing customer feedback: Customer feedback is necessary for continuous improvement to be done. A company needs to establish the best tools to use to collect customer feedback on products and services. This way, the organization can also understand how well they are doing in terms of service delivery.
Metrics used for performance evaluation feature little to no mention of quality goods: Most organizations avoid the mention of quality goods in the performance evaluation tools because they fear the result. This should not be the case as open criticism is meant to enable the organization to grow.
Employees are not familiar with the company’s quality vision and values – or perhaps worse, view them as mere slogans: It is risky for employees in an organization to view the company’s quality policy as just a mere slogan or statement as they will fall short of meeting the quality objectives. Quality is meant to be a responsibility taken up by all employees in an organization and is not just the work of the Quality Assurance Specialist/Officer. When employees have this perception, the company is likely to have poor quality in as far as their service delivery is concerned.
Training and Development do not emphasize quality: Most training & development programmes done do not emphasize quality and therefore employees get the necessary skills they require but are unable to apply their knowledge to enhance the quality of the organization’s products and services.
New hires are not formally introduced to the organization’s quality vision & values: It is very important for Quality to be part of the induction programme. This is not the case in many organizations as staff are taken through the induction programme and are not able to understand the organization’s quality vision & values.
The organization experiences frequent – though often minor setbacks owing to inconsistent quality: The organization may experience minor setbacks and many of these although very subtle may be due to inconsistent quality.
It’s important to note that a company’s culture describes how things get done. Therefore embracing the culture of quality will undoubtedly impact an organization’s operations and ensure that there is productivity as well as excellence in how goods and services are delivered.