Monday, December 15, 2014

Quality Is NOT Ambitious Enough – And that’s fine

I read a recent post by ASQ CEO Bill Troy with interest. It talks about an interesting position many people take on quality – That it’s not ambitious enough to change the world. Or something similar. Bill has shared an article by Brooks Carder about quality not being ambitious enough. Read it here.

I find Brook’s argument interesting but a bit academic. Now I am not a pessimist of cynic. I am often accused of being optimistic when everything is falling apart and hoping for a yes when everyone is saying No! I am more a realist and like seeing things done that worry about vision and mission statements too much. Brook has picked ASQ’s mission statement as an argument that we aren't ambitious enough.

Frankly ASQ isn't all quality is about. It wants to be and should be but there are 1000s of quality professionals who are doing very well but aren't associated with ASQ. When we talk of quality in general, these professionals count. And to them and many in ASQ, I don’t think ASQ’s mission matters – what matters is what is it doing about it. Now, I am not saying ASQ’s mission doesn't matter. Of course it does. But I wouldn't fret on every word as long as we take some good action on it.

So – Is quality ambitious? No. Should it be? The answer is relative. Compared to leadership, production, and marketing, quality should be less ambitious. But compared to human resource management and compliance it should be more ambitious.

How do we define being ambitious? When we challenge the status-quo and reach out for much more than what most people expect us to – we are being ambitious.

Much of quality is also ensuring sure our organizations meet the minimum standards that they set for goods and services. I won’t want people challenging status-quo when in inspection and quality control. Just follow the guideline and keep the customer in mind. That’s it. Don’t be creative and ambitious every day. I know this sounds harsh but every role has a purpose and on most days the purpose must be followed.

The process improvement part of quality should be ambitious. We should not settle for 10% improvement – aim for 10 fold improvement. If Bob Galvin had not set an ambitious goal for Motorola in mid 1980s we would not have seen Six Sigma around.

But again, very lofty and high ambition can sometimes paralyze people. We must be able to break the problem into pieced. Cut the elephant into sizes (apologies to my vegetarian friends). You don’t run a marathon when you decide you will run one. You work towards and it could take many smaller goals to finally get there.


Finally, I think its fine for Quality to be moderately ambitious. Leadership should be ambitious about what quality can achieve. If people in the quality team can only follow what leadership expects, I am in general fine. Now again, I don’t mean to say that quality should not think beyond. It should. Just not daily. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

ASQ Bangalore and Alliance University organize a one day event on 'Quality for Nation Building'

Speakers from Toyota, ANZ, Akshaya Patra, and Mahindra Reva talk to quality professionals and MBA students at the ASQ – Alliance University Summit on Nation Building on 29 Nov 2014

ASQ Bangalore and Alliance University successfully organized a one day Summit on ‘Quality for Nation Building’ on 29 Nov 2015. This was the first one day event arranged by ASQ Bangalore. The venue was the picturesque Alliance University campus in Anekal, Bangalore. The event was attended by over 150 students and professionals.

The summit was inaugurated by Dr Madhukar Angur, Chancellor, Alliance University. He set the stage well for the event by talking about the importance of quality in everything we do. Dr Angur expressed keenness for ASQ and Alliance to do more events where knowledge from industry stalwarts could be shared with students and professionals alike. He also wished luck to the seven student teams from five management institutes presenting later in the day.

Speakers at the event were:
  • V Ramesh, Senior VP, Toyota Kirloskar Motors
  • Pankajam Sridevi, MD, ANZ Support Service India
  • Muralidhar Pundla, Director, Akshaya Patra Foundation
  • Umesh Krishnappa, Head, Car program, Mahindra Reva
  • Subramaniam P G, Consultant and Chair, ASQ Chennai LMC

The inaugural lamp was lit by Dr Angur, Ciby James of ASQ Delhi, V Ramesh or Toyota, and Pankajam Sridevi of ANZ, and Anshuman Tiwari of ASQ Bangalore.

In his opening remarks Anshuman Tiwari, Chair – ASQ Bangalore spoke about how ASQ Bangalore is trying to reach out to management students and will shortly launch a student chapter initiative. He thanked the speakers for their time and Alliance University for hosting the event.

Mr Ramesh spoke about the need and importance of quality in nation building. He shared examples of how his organization is supporting the cause by not only providing good quality vehicles but also developing a very competent manufacturing workforce. This workforce, trained by Toyota, is now working with other leading companies as well.

Ms Pankajam regaled the audience with a mix of concepts, ideas, and anecdotes on how the ITES sector has helped shape a new economy and working class for India. She stressed that Multinationals now come to india for the quality we offer and not for the cost advantage we offer. With a series of anecdotes and examples from ANZ she urged the students in the audience to give their best in whatever they choose to do.

Mr Muralidhar was standing in for his CEO, Shridhar Venkat who could not attend due to a last minute emergency. Murali spoke about the focus on operational excellence at Akshaya Patra. All in the audience were astounded to know that Akshaya Patra feeds over 14 lakh students every afternoon and that this could cost as less as Rs 750 per child per year.

Mr Krishnappa shared the fantastic story of an Indian innovation – Reva Electric Car. He spoke about several world-leading features of this car including safety, on road revival, remote monitoring etc. He also spoke about the very futuristic and green plant Mahindra has built for this car in Bangalore. Umesh invited all present to visit the manufacturing plan to see how India can make the world’s best here. It was interesting to note that Mahindra Reva is ranked the world’s 22nd most innovative company.

Subramaniam P G, consultant and Chair at ASQ Chennai ended the speakers session with a clarion call to all present to do their bit towards nation building by – Know the rule and then follow it. He shared case studies from police administration, sugarcane purchase office, and Aravind eye care. 

Post these speaker sessions all participants enjoyed a sumptuous lunch sponsored by Alliance University.

The post lunch session commenced with Mr Ciby James of ASQ Delhi speaking about the role ASQ is trying to play in bringing Indian quality professionals together and also how students can become part of this mission.

This session had seven student teams present their ideas about using ‘quality’ for nation building. Participating institutes were Xavier’s (XIME), Alliance University, Presidency College, St. Joesph, and Ramaiah Institute. Seven teams from these five institutes presented their ideas. In interest of fairness all teams presented under a team number and not Institute name.

The contest was judged by:
  • Dhirendra Kumar Dubey, CEO, Lean Management Institute of India
  • Subramaniam P G, Chair – ASQ Chennai
  • Manjunath Makam, LMC Memebr – ASQ Bangalore

The winners were announced by Mr Dubey and prizes were given away by the other two judges. The winning teams were:
  • Winners: Sourabha K and Radhika B of Alliance Universtity
  • First Runners up: AShwini Jain and Sahith A N Krishna of Alliance Universtity
  • Second Runners up: Sai Swetha and Anie Jacob of XIME

Many congratulations to all winners. All three teams received a trophy and a cash prize (to be delivered later).

At the end, a vote of thanks was presented by Prof. George Easaw.

The organizers wish to thank Minitab (Cubic Computing) statistical software for supporting the event through part sponsoring the delegate kits.