Thoughts on Quality Management . . .

 I thought I would share my perspective on “Quality”.  I have helped many companies with their Quality Management activities – from updating procedures through ISO9000 audits and registration.

  I was introduced to the idea of Quality Management way back in my days with Corning.  They put a big push on making TQM (total quality management) a part of their corporate culture in the early 1980s.  When I was with Telco Systems in the mid ’80s, I was tapped to implement a TQM program there and train every employee.  We used Philip Crosby Associates as our model and several of us went to their training programs for managers. I also attended a “train the trainer” program since I was charged to bring that knowledge and philosophy to the entire organization.  I have to admit, I was hooked on the concepts.  “Quality is free”, “Do it right the first time” really seemed like the right path and I became a preacher.

  I have spent a lot of time in and out of Quality organizations since my training.  I have realized several things that seem to be widespread – at least among the companies that I have worked with. 

  The first is that Quality must be driven from the top down.  Without total buy-in from top management, it can never become part of a company culture. This is true no matter how much time and money you spend on it.

  Next is that just saying it is so does not work.  Top management must live it every day through their own decisions and business dealings – not by mandating it to others.

  Finally, I have realized that Quality is just not a powerful place to sit.  I apologize to all the Quality professionals out there, but the truth is that a Quality Manager has very little power within an organization.  Power comes from Marketing in a market driven company and from Engineering in a product/technology driven company.  Unfortunately, my experience has taught me that most businesses see Quality as a necessary function that is best left to the Q manager.

  That being said, the philosophy that I try to bring to every company I work with is that Q is a function to be performed by everyone.  A QM may formalize it and document it, but each employee must live it for it to truly work.  I felt it and saw that philosophy work at Corning. I find it harder to convince smaller companies to take it as seriously as they should – it is harder to do things right sometimes.  I’m still with you Phil Crosby – still trying to convince everyone to simply do the right thing.

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