A culture of quality involves far more than everyone following the quality guidelines.
It requires an environment where everyone consistently witnesses others taking actions in line with the quality values; it requires an environment where people consistently hear others talking about quality; and it requires an environment where quality is felt all around.
A culture of quality is a company culture in which the core values of quality are so deeply embedded that it truly is a way of life.
But how do you lead your company to this point?
- Is it enough that the top executives can recite the quality policy and objectives and say all the right things during Management Review? — No, not if their actions don’t match their words
- Is it enough to train employees in all things quality? — No, not if the training is just for the sake of ticking a box
- Is it enough to make sure you’re always compliant and have all your i’s dotted and t’s crossed? — No, not if you’re more concerned with following the rules than producing a quality product.
- Is it enough to have a superb document management system and really good quality management infra-structure? — No, not if it’s not the most suitable system for your organization.
You can’t just blindly follow some pre-fab templates and have everything that appears on a list of suggested records and documents and call it a day.
You should definitely do all these things, yes, yes… but as most of you know, until quality becomes a way of operating – in all aspects of the business, by all people – it will continue to be a challenge.
- You need to be relentless in your efforts at connecting the dots for people.
- You need to be relentless in your efforts to show everyone, at all levels, their role in the big picture.
- You need to be relentless at recognizing when things go well and giving public pats on the back.
- You need to be relentless about collecting evidence of the cost of not quality and keep putting it in front of the people who need to see it.
- You need to be relentless about putting yourself, as a quality manager, in front of everyone else in your organization – until they simply cannot ignore you anymore.
Change takes time. No one likes being threatened or badgered into it. That won’t work. You must come from a place of education, awareness, continuous improvement, and trumpeting the larger organizational goals.
And always…always, always, always…you must speak the language of your audience. If you want people to hear you, you’ve got to make your message clear. If you want to make your message clear, you must speak in a way that each stakeholder understands. You must be smart, flexible, and informed.