Quality is the result of collective effort of every employee in an organization. Quality cannot be achieved only through stringent quality control methods and use of sophisticated instruments or by highly competent quality department. Dr. Deming claims that 85 % of quality problems are created by people who never touch the product. Also quality cannot be achieved using flavor of the month approach. When individuals make quality as a habit, it becomes a culture at organization level. In this paper we are making an attempt to summarize traits of an organization where quality is a culture.
1: What is Quality Culture and how we measure it?
During one of the plant visit, we entered their canteen and found beautiful visuals for keeping the used food plates, cups, waste food etc…And in practice most of the employees mixing cups and plates, partially clearing waste foods from plate etc… We came to a conclusion that this company may be having serious concerns of quality. When we expressed our view with one of the manager he was not convinced. Then we explained him the concept of culture. If your employees not serious about mixing cups and plates, what is the guarantee they are serious about mixing of parts in the shop-floor? Later he was convinced with our logic. In the next stage we observed employees not following lane principle while going out of canteen. They suppose to walk in the left hand side but most of them were not complying with the rule. Simple examples like this will tell us if quality is a culture in an organization.
Below is the Wikipedia definition of Organization culture as a summary.
Organizational culture is collective behavior of people belonging to organization and the meanings that the people attach to their actions. organization values, visions, norms, working language, systems, symbols, beliefs and habits are part of its culture.
It is also the pattern of such collective behaviors and assumptions that are taught to new organizational members as a way of perceiving, and even thinking and feeling. the way people and groups interact with each other, with clients, and with stakeholders depends on its Organizational culture.
If we extend this definition to include quality, it becomes, “Organizational culture affects the way people and groups interact with each other, with clients, and with stakeholders and ultimately quality of the product
That means “Quality Culture depends on Organization culture”
Now let us look at the other side. Imagine that you entered an organization where quality is a culture; you feel the difference right from security gate. The way security personnel interact with you, the systems they maintain, the time management etc… gives you a feel of world class organization. Once you enter the reception, you will continue to experience the difference. The courteousness of receptionist, the self help displays, hassle-free path ways etc… You will appreciate how much attention given even for micro level things. No need to explain about the behavior of rest of the organization.
Once a company was audited by its Japanese customers for Quality System implementation. The auditors specifically wanted to visit three areas which took the company management by surprise. According to them, the areas customers selected were nothing to do with their quality systems.
The three areas selected were; Security, Scrap yard and workers toilets. Later during the closing meeting, one of the auditors explained to top management about the reason behind selecting those three areas. The logic is, most of the companies give least importance to these areas. According to them, if any company gives importance to these areas, it is obvious that they are serious about other areas.
2: Factors influence Quality Culture
We asked a question to our linked-in group members. In the equation Y=F(x), where Y= organization culture and x1, x 2 etc… are factors influence the culture, identify those factors. Also what are the 3 xs strongly influence the culture? We received various answers like Geographic location, Value system, Vision, Constancy of purpose, leadership, Management commitment, external environment, Quality Management systems, Human Resource development etc…most of them are interrelated.
Example: Poor implementation of quality management system is reflection of poor management commitment and leadership and so on… Let us discuss about three important factors which according to us have strong influence on quality culture. They are Leadership, Training and development and value system. One may argue that the second and third factors can be influenced by Leadership. However, for ease of analysis we considered three factors separately.
2.1 Role of Leadership for creating culture of quality – The tale of two leaders
One of the organizations was engaged in manufacture of electric motors. All the completed motors were required to go through final auditing process. It was a month end and the factory was yet to deliver more than 50 % of the orders. In such situation one of the quality auditors rejected the entire lot of motors due to abnormal noise. The plant manager was very upset hearing this. He called the particular auditor and asked what is the problem and after knowing the problem, he suggested to release products under deviation.
The reason given was – These motors are used in textile industry and the abnormal noise of this motor will not be audible in the huge noise created by textile machinery. You can imagine what will happen for the quality in future. The quality auditor next time takes his own decision to pass the defective parts and spread the wrong culture.
Another company was making fabricated structures for construction of bridges. CEO of this company used to do surprise audits at different stages to ensure delivery of quality products to customers. Once while doing one of such audit, he found one of the structure having abnormal bend being in the vehicle ready for dispatch. He immediately asked concerned people to stop the shipment and correct the problem. Not only that; he also asked his team to do a root cause analysis for such escape. Though it is un intentional, the response by leader shows his commitment to quality.
One of the key roles of a leader is “Lead by example”. In the above example, the company may lose one delivery but it sends a strong message to all the employees that any deviation to quality is not acceptable at any cost.
Another key point here is continuation of these leadership principles irrespective of change in leadership. This is a big challenge for many organizations.
2.2 Training and Development – Key in creating culture
Cultural transformation is a journey. Training and development plays an important role in creating quality culture. It should happen at all stages recruitment to retirement and for all level of employees from operator to CEO. Below is an example of Induction training topics of a new employee in an organization known for its quality culture. This is apart from her work related topics and this is mandatory for all employees.
- Mission and Vision of organization
- Values and Principles
- Problem Solving
- Kaizen and 5S
- Quality and Environment Management Systems
Imagine an employee joins a company with great quality culture from a company which is mediocre. He has two choices a) Adjust to new culture OR b) quit the company. This is the power of culture.
Training and retraining should be a continuous process. Otherwise sustenance will be difficult.
2.3 Value System – Driver of Culture
Values of an organization communicate what is acceptable and what is not acceptable behavior. For example one of the companies had the following values
- Quality First
- Respect for people
- Sense of urgency
Now this will be the guiding factors for every employee. They will be questioned by any one if they deviate from this. Like a compass in the ship showing direction to the captain, the value system tells organization the right and wrong direction. No one can question this including CEO. Once again, it depends on leaders, how they drive it and communicate it.
3: Quality Culture and Quality Management Systems
In our article “IS ISO 9000 CERTIFICATION LOSING ITS CREDIBILITY? We tried to demystify the various factors responsible for dilution of quality management system. It is quite obvious from our study that, organization which has poor quality culture give least importance to Quality Management Systems like ISO 9000. If the systems are weak, naturally product quality deteriorates. The following triangle illustrates the effects of deviation in quality systems.
4: Quality Assurance (QA) and Human Resource Development (HRD) should not just remain as nameplate change:
In the last two decades many organizations changed name of their two departments
Quality Control became Quality Assurance and Personnel department became Human Resource Development. Unfortunately many companies just changed the board and continued to function in the old way. Few companies adopted new philosophy and become very successful. We strongly recommend companies to adopt the philosophy of QA and HRD in true spirits to create Quality Culture.
Seven Steps Business Transformation System provides support in improving Quality Culture in any organization. We use a combination of tools such as Lean manufacturing, Lean Services, Lean Construction, Lean Hospitals, Lean Retailing. Seven Steps Global also conducts training programs on Various Quality tools which include ASQ Six Sigma Green Belt, ASQ Six Sigma Black Belt certification training, 7QC Tools, Experiential Learning on Lean, 5S, TPM, TQM, TOC ETC, through our group company Seven Steps Academy of Excellence.
Seven Steps Business Transformation System is also a most sort after Lean Manufacturing Consulting companies in India through their operating locations from Bangalore, Chennai, Calcutta, Pune, Mumbai, Nashik, Pant Nagar, Gurugram, Ludhiana, Shivamogga, Hosur, Mysore, Hyderabad, Salem, Chennai etc.,