Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Selling Quality – Both parts of it

Paul Borawski’s latest blog entry speaks to his latest journey on determining and communicating the future of quality.  I like how he ends these sessions with a challenge on how you going to promote (sell) quality to leadership.  It is not an easy sell, especially when there are two parts to Quality.
Quality has two major concentrations: conformance to standard and performance improvement. You cannot promote either part the same way.  A way to help strategize promotion is where these elements fall in relation to Covey’s quadrants.  Conformance to standard is a direct application of Q1, performance improvement exists in Q2.
Promoting conformance to standard is an easy sell because it relates directly to business pressure points: time, cost, and schedule. It is when solutions for Q1 issues require maintenance outside the everyday Q1 tasks that it gets difficult to justify.  For example, ISO 9000:2008, is very easy to promote, because the majority of the standard directly impacts business output. Baldrige is a more difficult sell because more emphasis is placed on organizational structure, planning, and management—things that more logically fall in Q2.
Another perspective on promotion is how performance improvement methodologies have been “sold” to businesses.  If you look on a lot of consulting websites, their pitch is on how their take on Lean or Six Sigma will save X amount of dollars based on testimonials.  Lean and Six Sigma realized initial success when these methodologies answered immediate problems that impacted the business pressure points.  But, over time, these programs begin to wane because the time cost was soon to be seen as more expensive than the actual savings or the accounting of these costs could not be incorporated into their current business systems. For an example of an answer to this problem see what Xerox is doing.  
Quality sells best when it is integrated or created into an organization’s culture.  Toyota, GE, John Deere, Springfield ReManufacturing, Zingerman’s are companies that understand that culture is the driving force of success and quality has a role to play in that success. They understand that what is done in the Q2 world will impact the Q1 world. Always staying in Q1 never allows for growth. You need to be in both worlds.
The following is on Deming’s Wikipedia page and it provides a great summary.
In the 1970s, Dr. Deming's philosophy was summarized by some of his Japanese proponents with the following 'a'-versus-'b' comparison:
(a) When people and organizations focus primarily on quality, defined by the following ratio,

Quality = (Results of work efforts) / (Total Costs)

quality tends to increase and costs fall over time.

(b) However, when people and organizations focus primarily on costs, costs tend to rise and quality declines over time.

Until next time!

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