Sunday, November 18, 2012

Applying Quality Improvement to Quality



Firstly, I hope you are celebrating World Quality Month in November. I know, some will argue that Quality should be celebrated through the year and not on a day or in a month. I normally see that as an argument for not doing anything. I would rather use this month to raise the voice of quality than argue over a utopian scenario. Please go ahead and try to raise the voice of quality. We need a lot more voices than we have.

Paul Borwaski has this month posed an action oriented question – What can we do to accelerate the rate of adoption of quality?

This is a global priority and Paul has rightly indicated that instead of waiting and praying it will help if we do something about it. Here are some thoughts I have and I am sure you all have many more.

Have more Quality Heroes (mini-gurus)

There won’t be another Juran or Deming. Period. But there can be other lesser gurus or heroes. What are we doing to discover, encourage, and promote these heroes. ASQ did an interesting study in 2010 on New Voices of Quality. Something similar could be done annually.

ASQ Fellows are still primarily from the USA. I am sure there are many quality professionals around the globe who deserve this honour. Heroes drive followership and it is important that the world of quality finds new heroes.

Apply The Juran Trilogy to Quality

Juran left for us a classic process management paradigm. The Juran Trilogy of process planning, process control, and process improvement. Are we doing this well? Planning is about developing a standard and setting baseline and target performance.
How many quality programs and professionals think and develop a process to deploy quality. Very few. When we follow the ‘Just do It’ philosophy blindly in quality deployment we don’t win fans. We invite ridicule and brickbats for poor planning and inability to take the medicine we preach.

What do we do control a quality program. I have reviewed 100s of quality programs and find a control mechanism missing most of the time. Most quality professionals live in the delusion that it is the job of Senior Leaders to monitor and not ours. Please remember, Senior Leaders has several other headaches and it helps us if we make their job easier.

Finally, how often do we improve a quality methodology? Not very often. I have reviewed Six Sigma programs in organizations which are run the same way as they were run five years ago. This may be good consistency but it closes our eyes from learning from our processes. Also, it is plain boring.

Globalise Quality

Taking quality to different countries, different industries, and demographics could be the key to accelerate its adoption.

There is a strong need to develop a project management discipline within quality. I can see most quality professionals lacking in project management skills. We do projects at our pace and ultimately allow business leaders to draw negative conclusions about our ability to finish things off. These two disciplines need some convergence.

Having an agreed quality curriculum is an increasing necessity now. There are way too many interpretations floating around and this distracts new-comers to the subject. I understand that a subject like quality cannot have ONE definition, but we could atleast have some beginner’s kit from a body like ASQ.

Quality is still not integrated with most engineering and management curricula. I have been trying to convince some schools to allow ASQ Bangalore to conduct sessions on problem solving and basic quality tools and can tell you this is not easy. But it needs to be done.


In summary, if we don’t take the bitter pill we want others to take, we will soon need surgery. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good post.
Couple of comments:

1) Agree with you completely the need for a rigorous project management approach.
2) W.r.t. standardized quality curriculum - a suggestion. why not use body of knowledge recommended (BoK) by ASQ for certification exams such as for Quality engineer?

Regards
Jagadish C A