Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2011

Taking Baldrige Global and Why a bit of Recession is Good for Quality?

I am reading A View from the Q with interest.  In this Blog, Paul Borwaski, CEO of ASQ, has provided an excellent round-up of quality as a profession in 2011. I am writing to add some of my random thoughts.
Firstly, removal of budgetary support to the Baldrige program was a huge step back. In doing so, we can again see how crowding a committee with only finance and lawyer kinds actually takes the world back. Nothing personal, but failing to see what the Baldrige has done and can do for a pittance of investment indicates some serious flaw in policy making in the USA. (Can’t say much because Policy making in my own country has hit an all time low and all involved are the lawyer kinds!) In more ways than one, the US leads the world and what it does may set a precedent in other countries. And that worries me.
While removing budgetary support to Baldrige cannot be understood, I do believe it offers an opportunity. The program has enough in the tank to be self-sufficient.  It could and we …

For Coco-Cola, Business is still simple – deliver good quality product.

As I read through a post by ASQ’s MD Laurel Nelson-Rowe two things struck me like lightening.  Firstly, for Coke, their business still is about delivering a good quality product. Everywhere.  How much more simple can anything get.  Second was the title of their quality head.  Carletta Ooton is Chief Quality and Product Integrity Officer.  Wow! Product Integrity. 
Coke is one of my favorite companies. Not that I love their product.  I deeply respect them for lasting this long, profitably. They must be doing many things right.  I was surprised when they did not make the Built to Last and Good to Great lists from Jim Collins.  Coke and Citibank, to me exemplify an old-school charm that endures forever.  Citibank did lose its way a bit but is getting back on track. Coke, meanwhile, has been a pillar.
For insights into how Coke manages to remain a pillar please do watch a video series at
How is Coke so enduring?  I don’t really know…

How did I discover a career in Quality?

As we enter the International Qualiuty Month, Paul Borawski, CEO, ASQ asked us a question in his blog last month.  It reads:

How is it that you came to be passionate about quality? What was the connection between what quality means and how it became your passion?
Here is a video of my response.  I am also posting a summary below.
My interest in quality as a profession developed during the final stages of my graduation in Industrial Engineering. While selecting what project I should work on as my final year thesis I was attracted to the kind of work Prof. Ishwar Keswani was doing. I was keen to have him as my guide. That year, that is 1993, he selected implementing ISO 9001 at an organist ion in Nagpur as his project.  It was a live project and ISO was the pinnacle of quality knowledge for me at that time.  A team of four students worked with a valve manufacturing unit in Nagpur and the experience was one that defined my choice of career. I remain forever thankful to Prof. Keswani for …

No Spectators in a Quality Journey

A lot can be learnt by and from companies that come back from the dead (well, almost). General Motors is one such company. It has been in a hole and is trying to claw back. And early signs are good. 
While reading (and watching) Terry Woychowski, GM’s new vice president of global quality, speak to ASQ on GM’s three Ps: Promise, Personal, and Performance, I was surprised to see how clear the messaging was.Clarity of purpose was one of Deming’s favorite principles and I could see it in action as Terry spoke.
Is GM out of trouble? Not yet.Can we learn from it? Plenty, I think.
First and foremost. I loved the clarity of Promise, Personal, and Performance. Laurel Nelson-Rowe of ASQ says, rightly, that this could be a fourth P: Pointing. Pointing the company in the right direction. Consistently.
Terry says, and I am hoping GM believes, that customers trade their hard earned money with us for a promise – that our product will work.Big deal. Everyone says this. I was very impressed with what he…

Excellent service is more an attitude than a skill!

On my recent trip to Melbourne I finally decided to listen to advice. I am usually horrible at doing what I am asked to do. It doesn’t help that I am plain, LAZY. I was told if you are in Melbourne don’t miss the Great Ocean Road tour. Now, we all get such recommendations and I was all set to disregard it as advice from over-enthusiastic well-wishers. Something in me told, don’t miss this one. And I didn’t and am so happy I didn’t.

After much scrutiny of the options available we selected AAT Kings, one of three popular operators of tours in Melbourne. The product seemed good but service was exceptional from the time I made the first call. This was perhaps, the most consistent display of excellent service I have ever seen.

The booking was smooth and precise. In fact it was so smooth that I was worried something has gone wrong. I actually called back and checked if the right booking was made. We are so used to poor quality that when we do get good service we cant believe our luck. The …

Future of Quality and thoughts from young minds (not mine!)

We all make our living through quality and should be interested in what the future for Quality looks like. Well, we are lucky. ASQ is doing this for us as they have done for last several years. Paul Borawski, CEO of ASQ and someone working closely on the report has raised a very interesting question. He argues that the future of quality perhaps is critical to the youth of today but the people working the Futures study are all well beyond being categorised as youth. Is there something that we will miss? What do the youth think about quality and its future?

I hate to admit, but I also don’t quality as young by Pual’s definition of 35 years.  But I am not that far off so I can probably answer his question. I also speak to people in quality and many are younger. I spoke to a few for this response. So, I am well prepared, which is not usually the case.

What do professionals under the age of 35 see as the future of quality?
Firstly, they want products and services that just work.  No surprise.…

Tata Steel: Values Stronger than Steel

I was delighted to know that Dr. J J Irani, the poster boy of Quality in India was recently recognized by the American Society for Quality by inviting him to be the keynote speaker for their annual conference.  An honor, a bit belated, but richly deserved.  His presence at this world stage is indicative of the respect the Tata Group has acquired across the world, the growing importance of Indian industry, and a growing realization at ASQ that there is a world outside America!
Paul Borwaski, CEO of ASQ, interviewed Dr. Irani during the world conference on quality and improvement and the interview is a gem.  You can watch it here.   Paul has asked some very compelling questions and Dr. Irani has responded with his characteristic candor and maturity.
Tata Steel, Dr. J J Irani, and an Amazing Quality Story I have a slight advantage as I write about Dr. Irani.  I have met him a few times and each time came back impressed with his depth or understanding ability to convey his message in terms t…

Top 10 Quality Gurus in India - Respond with your nominees.

It’s now been over two weeks with the post on ‘Top 10 Quality Gurus of India’ being out on my Blog and three groups on Linkedin.  We have had over 30 responses with multiple nominations.  Here are some quick insights.
My definition of Guru surely was not clear.  People have responded with names of quality managers (good ones I am sure) to P C Mahalanobis.  This points to the lack of clarity in my original post. Apologies.
We are seeking Gurus – so they have to be in between your managers and P C Mahalanobis. Gurus should have had some original and pioneering work. I agree consultants have an advantage here.  These Gurus should have done majority of their work in India.
I will be setting up a small panel to evaluate the nominations.  We have support from ASQ India to help in this study.
We may have to divide the list into Gurus and Leading Practioners (or a similar title).
Early nominations include:
Gurus P C Mahalanobis J J Irani Suresh Lulla R V Ramchandran Essae Chandran Manu Vohra Hans Bajaria G…

So is Ford a Manufacturing company or a Service one?

Does Bennie Fowler, Group VP of Quality and New Model Launch at Ford, read my blog? I have just finished watching a four part video post of Bennie talking to Paul Borwaski, CEO of ASQ.  (You can watch it here.) And I am grinning ear to ear as the first part of the video post has Bennie talking about Leadership taking a decision about Quality and then demonstrating the right behaviors. This he is says is what is ‘under the hood’ at Ford. My post last week talked about exactly this – quality culture is about intolerance for poor quality and delivering on promises. And demonstrating the right behavior. Sounds similar. Isn’t it?
While closing the post, Paul says, “I was struck by Bennie’s remark that today, quality must focus on more than product—it must focus on the entire customer experience.”
Brilliant comment Bennie.  So true.  Finally product companies are realizing what Drucker said years ago – all companies are service companies.  (I am not sure if these were his exact words but he d…

Building a Quality Culture - Intolerance for poor quality and delivering on promises does it!

Had an engaging discussion with couple of friends yesterday.Among the topics was the troublesome topic of building a quality culture.What is it and how do you build it?
I am not qualified to comment on it but then have I cared about my qualification on anything? Haha. IMHO building a quality culture is about having the right behaviors and achieving results. Everything boils down to this.If we all don’t behave in interest of quality ALL the time there is little chance we will build a culture that supports quality.And even more importantly if we don’t collectively achieve the results we set out for we don’t build the credibility that is so essential for a quality culture.
Intolerance for poor quality all the time is a key behavior management must demonstrate.This is even more crucial in moments of truth. Haven’t we seen leaders/managers talk much about customer and quality and then when rubber hits the road and the going gets tough these leaders/managers are the first to suggest cutting c…

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 see
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 t…

Improving Education through Quality Principles - some thoughts

Paul Borwaski has a raised the voice for a topic very close to me – quality tools in education.  Much is said about children being the future and education being the key to a better world – but not much is done.  Paul has shared some examples from the US where select institutions are using quality tools to make a difference, for the better.  There are surely such institutions across the world. But these exceptional institutions are exceptions. Very far and few.
There is no denying that quality tools, methods, and practices can play a huge role in changing how education is provided and managed. There are enough examples of successes for institutions to follow.  If companies could learn from successes of other companies, why can’t institutions?
Well they can, if we looked at the forces at work and did something about it.  I am responding more from my exposure to the education system in India.  Don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of being a product of this system.  For understanding what q…

Use ROI to determine ‘What’ and ‘How Much’ of social investment not ‘If you should’.

Quality has many dimensions.  While process and system quality often takes our attention, there are many companies focused on management and organization quality.  If Quality of Life, (borrowed from brand promise of the TATA group from India), is what we seek and work for then SR and Quality cannot remain far away. 

In my MBNQA training sessions and workshops I have often stressed that there are two aspects of the MBNQA core values which separate it from the similar models.  One is Agility and the other is Social Responsibility.

I have observed over 50 companies from close quarters during Performance Excellence assessments (based 
on the MBNQA) and found an interesting co-existence of superior business performance and social responsibility.  I am not suggesting a cause and effect relationship between social responsibility and performance excellence – but a co-existence is surely assured.

Perhaps, companies which do well find it their duty to serve the society OR since they serve the socie…