“This month, let’s talk about happiness and job satisfaction in the quality field, worldwide. Are you happy on the job? If yes, why? If no—what would help you raise the voice of quality with a passion?”
Paul Borawski concluded his latest blog by posing the above question. I interpreted Paul’s description of Raising the Voice of Quality as the ability to be Engaged, Enabled, and Energized in my job. Some of my colleagues have eloquently described their happiness in their blog posts. I want to concentrate on the latter question, what would help me raise the voice of quality with a passion, or saying it another way, what are the barriers to my ability to raise the voice of quality and what can be done?
First barrier: Management insistence on selling marginally bad product (or service) as good. I lived this first hand when I was a quality manager in the paperboard packaging industry. The plants had quality inspectors and I use the term euphemistically as it really meant quality sorters. The paperboard packaging manufacturing process has inherent failures in the process and there have been technological advances to improve these failures but invariably there will always be times where people would have to inspect thousands of cartons to determine good or bad based on tolerance limits that are stated in words and not visually. To solve this one, there needs to be management appreciation of preventing problems in the first place and ensuring tolerance limits are understood by everyone.
Second barrier: Management thinking that training solves all problems and an annual training program is better than no training at all. Guy Wallace will probably tweak me a bit but I strongly believe management has no comprehension of the purpose of training other than a short-term imparting of skills. Many believe that if we have annual training on key topics that will be enough to prevent problems from occurring in the first place. What needs to be done is a willingness to take time to analyze a problem deeply and not just throw money at it in order for the problem to be trained out of people.
Third barrier: Management over-emphasis on the value of money and under-emphasis on the value of time. Again, going back to my packaging days, there were times where the customer has this hot job that has to be done now. We break the schedule, rush it through the process, send it to the customer, and the customer rejected the product because it did not meet quality standards. By the way, run it again because we still need the product. Current accounting systems do not capture the waste generated from running it again nor the required sorting just to make enough “good” product to make the shipment. Breaking this barrier requires culture change, intestinal fortitude, and communication with the customer.
So how can ASQ help me increase my passionate quality voice? Talk about doing things right the first time (we already do this, keep it up, and spread it to more channels). Talk more about preventing problems and how that ties to preventing costs as a comparison to throwing money at short-term fixes. Finally, we need to change management’s paradigm. Stop listening to Wall Street, start listening to Main Street. It all comes down to people. Providing the best customer experience one PERSON at a time. Sure sounds like Deming to me!
Until next time.