Wednesday, November 25, 2015

You are not selling Quality to the C-suite. You are selling short-term relief.


Dr. Gettala’s ASQ Influential Voices post this month provides a well-worn message around the business of selling your message to leadership. Although the message is important I think we need to remember that Quality is not a methodology that offers “gentle relief for the common business cold.”

Quality is a set of principles.  If you ask any senior manager they would say that quality exists in their organization.   They believe (ok, there are outliers like Enron and VW Group) that their organization conforms to specified requirements and that their organization must improve and change to survive.  The message we are really telling senior managers related to quality is that, “In our opinion, their actions and behaviors are not supporting the cultural climate and needs of the organization.  Their message is being garbled and we need it clarified.”

More to Dr. Gettala’s point is the fact that when a quality practitioner sees a short term opportunity for improvement that will benefit the organization use the tips espoused by him. 

There is no prescriptive way to change corporate behavior from below.  The only way to effect significant corporate behavioral change is from internally at the C-suite level or external pressures placed on the organization by customers or regulatory requirements.  As quality practitioners, we do have ways to influence this behavior. 

One way is to get involved in corporate leadership training.  I have mentioned in the past that ASQ is way behind in this cause.  Leadership training as it relates to quality is not a path ASQ chooses to pursue.  I have commented in previous blog posts that they should.  This past Monday I had an opportunity to effect change in my organization by participating in a curriculum summit addressing leadership development in the shipyard.  Yes, I will probably retire before I see the next generation of shipyard leaders mature but I know that I have done the most to impact change at the senior level today. 

What is needed from our senior quality practitioners is rather than solely focusing on selling their expertise to the C-suite for short-term gain, why are they not focusing on changing the behaviors of the future quality leaders?  Why are they not asking to impact corporate culture by offering support for changing the behaviors of future organizational leaders such that they appreciate that leaders provide the resources and the environment by which quality exists today.
For all those in North America I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving season.  Be safe, appreciate your family with love, and continue to practice the quality principles our profession espouses.
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