Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What is the future of Quality? Does that bother you? Well, if doesn’t then you are probably on Jupiter.



Paul Borwaski, CEO of ASQ has opened an interest debate on what is the future of quality? ASQ has commissioned a research every three years since 1996 to look into what is the future of quality.  And they keep coming up with interesting drivers for quality. For a current list seehttp://asq.org/blog/2011/05/180/

Here is my list of the questions quality needs to help with if it wants to have an impact on our future.

·          How will quality help in making the earth last longer?
·          How will quality help the changing demographics of the world?
·          How will quality help the world a safer place?
·          How will quality help business become more competitive?
·          How will quality help leaders be more inspirational?
·          How will quality help managers be more effective?
·          How will quality help kids study better and get smarter?

Making the earth last longer is about preserving our natural resources and taking care of the environment. Quality principles and tools such as Hoshin Kanri and House of Quality could be very useful in the planning process of organizations that are trying to prolong the useful life of our planet.  X-Matrix for policy/plan deployment in the execution of these plans will surely help such organizations.

Peter Drucker had predicted in early 2000s that one of the key frontiers for management will be the changing demographics of the world.  In summary what he said is that world will have a lot of young people (that we all know) and it will have a lot of older people with disposable money. In any case if there are lots of older people the world will need products designed for them.  So from old age homes, to special bank accounts, to adult diapers, to security systems…quality principles can help companies design these products better.

The Fukushima disaster has again pitches safety at the centre of most debates.  Surely better planning and some practice can help in such cases. I actually think the Japanese were able to handle the crisis fairly well and this maybe because of the excellent quality orientation they have.  The world needs to learn from this disaster and I suspect the tools they used would include FMEA.

Quality has been the key driver for competitiveness.  While speed and service have emerged as other drivers, they make a difference only if quality is of an expected level.  So what was luxury 10 years ago is expected now.  Companies will increasingly use models such as the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award of the USA and Six Sigma to achieve higher levels of excellence.  Lean principles could help save a lot of money by reducing waste and improving speed.

More industries will embrace quality.  I am hoping education and healthcare sector across the globe realizes how much of an impact they can make using quality principles. 

The one area where I feel quality will make more inroads than others is with leadership. Alan Mullaly of Ford has made quality speak by CEOs fashionable again.  He is the new Jack Welch.  Maybe better.  Now, if only other CEOs embraced quality and drove it from the corner office.

Quality tools and methods will continue to be used by managers.  New methods may emerge to help balance quality, cost, speed, and service levels.  We could see industry wide metrics being standardized.  I can see industries publishing quality metrics in public domain. 

Finally, can schools embrace quality and help kids learn more and better?  Could we equip kids with basic analysis and root cause skills? Wouldn’t that make these kids smarter for later jobs?  And it will bring tons of cost down for industry which then trains people when really they are beyond training.  The best place for quality training is in schools.

Dreaming? Yes, I am.  But we have to dream to make some of this happen.