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Showing posts from 2013

5 Core Principles of Quality

What are the coreprinciples of Quality? This is a difficult but necessary question. 

Coreprinciples form the soul of any subject.  There are a lot of texts on quality that attempt to define quality and the tools and techniques required to deliver quality. Coreprinciples develop over a period of time. Sometimes decades. They are reinforced by practice and wide-spread adoption. 

During my career as a Baldrige consultant, Six Sigma trainer and practitioner, and change manager I have tried to articulate quality principles as follows:

Quality helps deliver what customers want:The first principle is about quality helping to deliver what the customer wants. Quality and customer are intertwined and inseparable. Quality exits because customers have expectations from the product or service they buy.  

Quality functions in organizations essentially apply tools and techniques to help the organization deliver what the customer wants. Be it inspection, control, assurance, or design, quality helps deliv…

Bitter pill: Quality Improvement is most needed in the Quality Profession itself

Earlier this month Paul Borwaski, CEO at ASQ, wrote an interesting and usual post on ASQ having a Doors Open event recently. During this event many at ASQ realized that most people still consider Quality a very ‘Manufacturing’ subject. He ended his post with a question - What new fields or disciplines could most reap the benefits of quality tools and techniques?
So where can quality principles are applied?  We could argue that we can apply them anywhere we like, but I would prefer to apply some criteria. Applying such criteria will help us prioritize and as you know nothing really gets done unless we prioritize.
Quality principles, tools, and methods can be best applied wherever a process exists and it can be broken into steps and is repetitive. Process. Steps. Repetitive.
Of course there will be exceptions to this principle. Quality is very useful in Research but one could argue that the research process is not repeatable. 
Here is my list of some industries which can benefit from appl…

Quality must make money and not just be the right thing to do.

In a recent post on his bog, Paul Borwaski, CEO of ASQ, shared a fantastic turnaround story about Corning Glass. As usual Paul choses his subjects wisely and presents his thought crisply.
See the case study here.
Here are some key insights from Corning’s revival and dominance through Quality that I could summarize for you.
Winning the Baldrige is not enough Wining the MBNQA takes a lot of doing. It needs passion, dedication, consistency, intelligence, and a lot more to remain on the path of excellence and lift the award. But we can’t rest after we win. New challenges emerge requiring new responses. Corning Glass’s case clearly demonstrates how quickly we can slip if we drop the ball.
Quality is a Board subject J M Juran famously predicted that in the 21st century only two functions will need to report to the CEO. Finance and Quality. Finance has always held this place and will continue to do so. With Corning Glass’s case it is reiterated that once Quality slips lower in the organizational…

What, why, who, and when of doing training wrong!

Training employees for them to deliver better results has been a long standing principle of quality management.  Both Juran and Deming and later Ishikawa were very strong proponents of professional training. No one can really deny that training is important and must be done.  My issues are the what, why, who, when of training.
Paul Borwaski, CEO or ASQ, recently shared findings on professional training in quality as part of the ASQ’s Global State of Quality research. I am trying to respond here with my own observations (which is the my interpretation of research J )
What do we train about? And Why?
A lot of people I meet talk about strategic intent in training. We should train employees on what is strategic. It should be a strategic fit. You get what I mean.
We also want return of investment from training. While these are nice words to use, the truth is much more basic. Employee survey after survey shows that staff (the people who actually work!) are not happy with the training they get. …

Certifications - Filter, Catalyst, and Accelerator

Paul Borwaski, CEO of ASQ, recently blogged about the value of certification. The ASQ Salary survey, year after year, shows that certified professionals get better jobs and do well in them as well. How does certification help? As usual, I don’t have scientific evidence but am basing my ideas on having spoken with a lot of professionals, both certified and not-certified.
Certification is a filter – in a lot of career choices, recruiters and hiring managers use a certification as a filter. When a lot of applicants are likely to apply for a job it helps to have a filter. Now, this filter is no assurance that only the most suitable candidates pass it. It is just an exercise in narrowing the options. If you are keen to have a career as a Black Belt then a certification will help you in the race.
Certification is a catalyst – applying for a certification can catalyze applicants into being focused on a goal. This is good for applicants who have been floating in their career and haven’t had an…

How I use Social Media (LinkedIn and Facebook mainly)?

We cannot imagine our lives without Facebook and LinkedIn today. For many of us Twitter is also on this list. Which ones do I use? I use Facebook more for personal and LinkedIn more for professional life. I have linked my LinkedIn updates to Twitter and don’t really use Twitter directly. I also use Feedly and Flipboard to get and share news on my phone as I travel (not when I am driving). I have used Klout and but am not convinced of their utility yet. There are several new networking websites each year.  But it does appear for now that Facebook and LinkedIn are here to stay. Google+ is quickly gaining on Facebook and its integration with Blogger helps. Twitter has limited use for a discussion. It is more amenable to witty one-liners! Which social networks do quality professionals use? Having interacted with a lot of quality professionals off line and online, I am certain that quality professionals are less likely to network online compared to several other professionals. Qual…

Transparency in Quality Results – Learn from

Transparency is a vague virtue. It might not even be a virtue. What could be being transparent for the supplier could quite easily be inadequate information for the consumer. This is something we all face in our personal lives as well. But let’s not get there. J
In his most recent post, Paul Borwaski, CEO of ASQ, talks about sharing quality results with customers. Paul has quoted Influential Voices blogger John Priebe who has bloggedabout releasing quality metrics to the public.Do we agree with John? Of course we do. It is the right thing to do. But, as is often the case what is right for consumers is not necessarily acceptable to organizations.
Transparency of quality results is an intriguing question. In several supplier/vendor relationships it is mandatory to share quality results. Most notable is the QS 9000 (TS 16949) standard for automotive component suppliers. However, sharing information with consumers is something new and unusual. I have known of companies where departments do…

Maintaining 'Continued Relevance' of Quality

Paul Borwaski, CEO of ASQ, surely comes up with some good questions. Asking good questions is a key characteristic of quality professionals. Or atleast it should be. I have admired Paul for his ability to elevate the dialogue. In our meeting during his visit to India earlier this year I returned very impressed with how dedicated he was to make ASQ the global voice of quality. We need more like you, Paul.
This month Paul has asked two very fundamental questions. If answered and acted upon, they could change the course of quality. Read his blog here. His questions are:
§What is the most important challenge the quality community faces in ensuring that the value of quality is fully realized for the benefit of society? §And, what question does the quality community most need answered in order to advance the state of quality practice in the world?
Both are heavily loaded questions. With no clear answers.
Challenge of Continued Relevance So, what is the most important challenge the quality co…

Did Dr. Deming really say what Dan Pink is saying today?

I read Julia McIntosh’s post rounding up the ASQ World Conference on Quality with unusual interest. Firstly because I wasn't at the conference and wanted to remain updated. Secondly  because Julia had written it. I am sure we all on the Influential Voices program have remained impressed with Julia’s dedication for the program. This post was a way to assess how good she is at writing – something she expects us to do every month.  Must say, she didn't need this assessment. Her post is a well-rounded summary of the conference and if you were not there, it is highly recommended reading.
I am delighted that Dan Pink was one of the keynotes at the conference. His work on what motivates us to give our best is amazing. I wrote about his book Drive in one of my earlier posts. I have also written about how quality professionals are risk averse for a range of reasons including personal traits of being calm, composed, academic, rigor oriented. Read Dan’s theory and think about the characte…

Magnet for Poor Quality and Quality in Unexpected places

We have come to expect that some things will happen ‘right’ all the time and others won’t. We expect our electricity and water bills to be delivered on time also expect that if have a complaint it wont be resolved till we actually give up. Quality works well in some cases and doesn't in others. For most people.
I have, however, now confirmed my belief that as part of a large conspiracy of the universe all companies that I seek a service from ‘identify’ me as the recipient of their poor quality service. If they have to make just one mistake in the year – it has to be with me. I am a very good magnet for such poor quality.
Why do I say this? I have been at the receiving end of poor service with an amazing range of service providers, some repeatedly and over a long period of time. There must be something fascinating about me! Phone, Internet, Airlines, Insurance, Identity cards, Taxi operators – you name it.
I have often wondered is it because I complete forms incorrectly or ask for som…

Five Lessons to Face the World Confidently

Here is a version of my speech at Prasiddhi School on 1 March 2013. I was Chief Guest for the High School Graduation event there. The school is truly unique in that it seemed to have escaped the commercial trappings of running a business. Student teacher bonding was special and almost gave glimpses of what the Gurukul system would have been like.
Graduation or Commencement day is very special for all parties involved.  Parents begin to see some returns on the investment they have made. Teachers see the fruit of their labour moving on in life. And for the students – you have to now step into a large and somewhat unknown world. And this needs some preparation. Some of this preparation comes from listening to people who have made mistakes. And I have made plenty.
First lesson is that of ‘Failure – knowing that we will fail, sometimes’
Even the greatest fail. We all know of Sachin Tendulkar as the greatest batsman ever and have only known him as a hero. We all have many stories about …

Quality Professionals and Avoidance of Risk

While Quality professionals deal routinely with potential and actual failure and evaluating risks in business, I don’t see many (including myself) who take enough risks themselves.  Could this be true? Paul Borwaski, ASQ CEO in a recent blog cited a study conducted on youth in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers. While most survey agreed that risk taking is essential, they also said that they themselves are risk averse. This syncs well with my observation that quality professionals don’t take enough risks.
A few years ago, I had asked the Head of Quality of a large global organization – Why don’t quality professionals often make it to the CEO chair? His reply was astonishing and one which I clearly remember even today. His response highlighted that being a CEO is about taking some bets and then backing them with resources and resolve. This is a quality that quality professionals usually don’t posses. This was coming from a quality professional that is considered…