Quality #2:“Cure” precedes “Prevention”

by Tanmay Vora on November 10, 2009

Cure or preventionThis is the second part of a 12-part series titled #QUALITYtweet – 12 Ideas to Build a Quality Culture. This series will provide 12 relevant insights on how organizations can improve their quality culture through people, processes and leadership.

#QUALITYtweet Never let your processes

come in the way of solving your

customer’s immediate problems

I recently saw a very popular and award-winning Indian movie where a goon decides to become a doctor to fulfill his father’s dream. He cheats in entrance test and gets into a medical school, only to notice the impersonal attitude of doctors and their bureaucratic relationship with patients.

On the first day of his college, as he walks towards the class room, he notices a patient in critical condition waiting to get admitted to hospital. He is in a critical condition and his relatives are struggling to get the admission form which needs to be filled as a mandatory process for getting admitted. This deeply annoys the protagonist who then proceeds to the induction session. When the Dean’s introduction lecture gets over, the protagonist asks him in front of all other students, “When a patient is in a critical condition, is it necessary to fill up the admission form? If the patient lost his life, who will be responsible?” This agitates the dean who walks out of the room without giving any answer.

This movie sequence contains a great lesson for the organizations – “Never let your processes come in the way of solving your customer’s immediate problems.”

Your processes should have flexibility to allow your people to solve customer’s burning problems. “Cure” precedes Prevention”. You can think of prevention after you have learned how to solve immediate problems of your customer.

How do we achieve this? Here are some pointers:

  1. Constantly review processes to identify redundancies that can be removed to simplify the process.
  2. Identify processes that are designed to “save the turf” but not related to actual customer service or value.
  3. Create an action plan of how these processes can be changed to simplify.
  4. Automate critical processes in form of applications that are easily accessible and easy to use.
  5. Train middle management to develop a customer-oriented mindset.
  6. Lead the team from front and set right examples of what customer-orientation looks like.
  7. Once immediate customer problem is solved, assess the opportunity to improve process and prevent similar occurrences.
  8. Make people nearest to customer accountable for customer satisfaction. Base your rewards on customer satisfaction and not on metrics.
  9. Keep doing these activities continuously.

Process is a tool that we use to deliver better services. The same process, if applied rigidly, can become your biggest obstacle in solving customer’s burning problems. In business critical situations, empathy towards customer’s business is as important as having a process. That is the hallmark of a customer-centric process culture.

Tanmay VoraTanmay is a Software Quality Management professional based out of India. He hosts QAspire Blog and tweets as @tnvora. He is also an author of the book #QUALITYtweet – 140 Bite-Sized Ideas to Deliver Quality in Every Project
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  • Deepa Shah

    Very Good article Tanmay..Keep it up. I am sure that you will go miles in the QA field. All the best..

  • Deepa Shah

    Very Good article Tanmay..Keep it up. I am sure that you will go miles in the QA field. All the best..

  • http://amvaishnav.wordpress.com/ Ashok M Vaishnav

    Gujarati translation of the article can be seen @

    ગુણવત્તા-સંસ્કૃતિ- ૨ || પાણીનો રેલો પગ તળે આવે તે પહેલાંજ પાળ બાંધીએ
    (http://webgurjari.in/2014/02/07/quality-culture-2/)

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