I find it kinda funny that quality is an occasional subject at companies, rather than a ‘start every day/meeting with quality’ atmosphere. I have been in companies where quality is not really even mentioned and been at a company that jumped head-first into the quality world. It’s very interesting to watch people react to the idea implementing quality tools/procedures.
These are the people who view the whole quality process as just more ‘work’ that they are going to along with the rest of their responsibilities. The Cynic will generally be negative towards the process and will look to subvert the process to meet there own needs. They learn just enough to try to work the system to get what they wanted to accomplish all along. Sad, but I saw it first hand. As a manager, you have to keep these people honest and not let them corrupt the quality system.
To these people, the quality system represents logic and ‘rightness’ that was missing in their work-world before. To be honest, it’s not only a quality process that can give these people the ‘truth’ they are looking for – any top-down process that sorted the chaos of the everyday into something that makes more sense. A quality process can clear the cobwebs, make things make sense. Everyone sees the everyday workings that are simply not working but it seems things never change. The is the fundamental key to the quality process – everything changes and keeps changing. Some people fear change, but the Believers embrace the changes in the hopes that things will get better.
The Flavor of the Day Crowd
These are the people who view the quality process as just another process that management is forcing everyone to take. They embrace it because that is what you do with the new process. But they essentially believe that this too will be replaced by another system/process in the future. Because of this, they do what they can but don’t emotionally invest in the quality process. Some of these people can be shown the true value of the system, they can become Believers. I also think many of these people are afraid to ‘fall in love with the system’ because it will be gone in a year or so.
This group represents everyone else. If the value of the quality process is shown to them, they will embrace it. If the system is simply dumped on them, then they will go through the steps but never proactively participate in the system.
How To Implement a Quality System
Of course this could be a HUGE discussion but I am just going to highlight a few important pieces of the puzzle. The first true key to a successful quality process is that the process must be supported top-down. If upper management doesn’t support it, how are the troops going to feel the process is going to stay around. You have to have the top dog tell everyone that this is both important and here to stay!
The second key, is that the goal of implementing the quality process is to provide a better ‘quality’ product to the customers. It’s not. I can see why you might say that, but that will lead to bad decisions and placing the emphasis on the wrong areas. The goal should be simply for every single person to produce quality work in everything they do. It’s not just what goes out the door, it’s what is done every single step along the way. Every support person, everyone who works directly and indirectly with the product. If everyone focusses on quality, the end results will be more satisfied customers. Plain and simple.
The last key I want to go over is processes. I work in the tech industry and all I keep hearing how all the gurus are saying to forget processes and embrace culture. They are in love with innovation and discovery. I get it. Got to create new things. I just wish people would realize anytime a company has more than one person do the same job function, a process should be established to make sure the same job is being done. Processes are not the death of artiest, just the keeper of standards – and that is a good thing. A quality process is all about looking at the processes that you do the most and improving them. Simple. Why would anyone be against that.