Monday, June 10, 2013

The “Value of Quality”

Paul Borawski’s June 2013 blog post ask two questions for the collective. Paraphrasing:
·         What is the most important challenge to ensure that the value of quality is realized in today’s society, and
·         What information do we need to advance quality worldwide?
Guy Wallace in his blog post speaks to understanding and communicating the value proposition to leadership. In a similar vein, Anshuman Tiwari feels that quality is less valued based on the behavior of organizations towards quality. Both voices are similar to the tack that I want to address: Leadership does not understand what quality brings to the table and this lack of understanding comes from an education system that does not teach leadership, leadership behaviors, or leadership expectations when running teams and organizations. 
I have written in past blogs that academia does not understand the quality profession.  Dan Zrymiak briefly addresses this point as part of answering the two questions above. I would argue that quality is the root of leadership that distinguishes between good and great leaders.  The difference between good and great, in my opinion, is VALUE. 
There are innumerable tomes about leadership.  These books discuss how to treat people, how to create strategy, how to evaluate choices, and biographies that talk to successes of famous leaders.  How many of them discuss failures, their lessons, and how they changed based on they learned?  How many of them talk about the expectations that people are going to fail and offer work environments that create the ability to feel consequence from failure yet have the ability to learn from experience?  What I read is how they hold people accountable; use a big stick more often than a carrot.
There are schools that teach “leadership” to undergraduates. What they often turn out to be are exclusive political cliques that teach how to network and fund-raise rather than truly learn how to determine the root cause of an organizational problem.   What you get is a skewed version of leadership; they were in charge but did they actually help a team accomplish value?
My answer to this communication of value is for ASQ to champion the concept that the Body of Knowledge is the core of leadership.  Quality is serving the customer.  Leadership is serving the organization.  Robert Greenleaf first put this proposition out in 1970 in his essay The Servant as Leader.  He states, “The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.”
This is the value of quality.  It provides the behaviors endemic to great leadership.  It answers both of Paul’s questions and it complements Guy’s, Dan’s, and Anshuman’s posts. It also identifies a role for ASQ to be the vehicle for this message.  ASQ creates the structure then engages the members to communicate and live the message.  But ASQ cannot do it alone.  It has to engage academia to come into the 21st century regarding leadership because the current leadership models being espoused will not work in the global challenges we face today and tomorrow.
Just my 2 cents, let’s hear yours!