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A QualitEvolution is intended to capture positions and experiences as a participant in the evolution of the Quality profession into the 21st century. From its origins as the brainchild of Corporate Industrial Statisticians, our profession has transformed and evolved to incorporate and adapt to the demands and expectations of our modern existence.

The scope of the subject matter within A QualitEvolution extends to the furthest ranges of quality, business transformation, management science, and quality issues especially pertinent to the members of ASQ in Canada.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Culture of Quality - Awareness, Interest, Decision, Action

In response to the excellent blog post in the View from the Q on Corporate Culture I am suggesting that the leaders in this situation apply the AIDA method, and strive to gain and promote Awareness, Interest, Decisions, and Actions within the organization.

The scenario appears to reflect deficiencies in all four areas, particularly the blockages between different levels and layers of the organization.

Awareness is critical.  Once different groups and stakeholders recognize the interdependencies of their actions, prerequisites and entry criteria can be properly established.  A consistent methodology can be deployed which complements and addresses all of the necessary functions.  If there are extraordinary circumstances (i.e. shortage of operating capital), then innovative solutions can be developed and applied to mitigate or eliminate the situations.

Interest is important.  For any constructive and sustained change to occur, it has to be presented in a way that captures and creates a genuine interest across all parties, who will see and experience the benefit of those changes.  While people should not have to be "sold" on diligence or compliance, the manner of achieving that diligence should be examined.  For example, an abusive and toxic culture may generate immediate improvements in the short term, but will contribute to absenteeism, attrition, and a loss of continuity and reputation in the long-term.  A better approach is effective employee engagement and empowerment.

Decisions are critical for correct improvements.  The case study makes reference to the fact that the line employees cannot get to senior management, who won't respond to emails nor be available for calls.  My personal opinion would be to inject the decision-makers into the "Gemba" or location of the actual work so that they can gain first-hand exposure to the situation, and make rapid decisions to authorize improvements or investments in improved quality and operations.

Actions define the next steps, and ultimately guide the development of the corporate culture.  For example, if an employee is terminated for refusing to ship a deficient product, that will send the message that delivery schedules override quality standards, and deficiencies should be concealed.  If on the other hand, the company commends the employee and takes the necessary actions to resolve the quality problems, that will send encouraging motivation for others to advocate quality and integrity.

There are no immediate solutions.  Improvements are incremental and must be reinforced with each shipment or issue managed and resolved.  Transparency and visibility are critical to accurate and precise solutions.  Expectations must be managed, and one option is for the company to pull back from business opportunities until they can be properly served and fulfilled.  It is better for an organization to build a stellar reputation by doing a few solutions or deliverables at a high standard, than by stretching too thin to be all things to all customers.

Culture: Awareness, Interest, Decision, Action.  Without these elements, the culture will not change for the better.

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