Quality #1: Quality is a long term differentiator

by Tanmay Vora on November 9, 2009

This is the first 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.

Introduction to #QUALITYtweet – 12 Ideas to Build a Quality Culture

Relentless focus on quality helps you build a sustainable organization that delivers value – to customers and people working with the organization. Quality is a long-term strategic differentiator.

Yet, most quality models heavily focus on methodologies, metrics and complex processes. This series is a collection of 12 chosen tweets from my upcoming book #QUALITYtweet – 140 Bite-Sized Ideas to Deliver Quality in Every Project” and ideas that expand 12 tweets from the book. These insights will help you frame your quality strategy by effectively leveraging processes, people and leadership to build a customer-centric organization.

Moving on to the first QUALITYtweet…

#QUALITYtweet Quality is never a

short-term goal. It is a long-term

differentiator

Quality is not a goal – it is a differentiator that can transform an organization into a remarkable one. If we study the anatomy of any process improvement or change initiative, it involves short term and long term objectives. Long term objectives generally map with organization’s vision and values while short term objectives are steps that lead to those long-term objectives. Yet, many organizations fall in a trap of setting short term improvement objectives that don’t map to any long term goals.

Here is a litmus test to identify if an organization’s quality goals are short term:

1)      Top management looks at processes as an overhead that can reduce overall efficiency of doing the “real stuff”.

2)      Quality Certification is seen purely as a tool to generate more sales, with no deliberation on how it can help improve efficiencies (and hence improve bottom-lines on a longer run).

3)      Quick and often unreasonable results are expected out of process improvement group.

4)      The question often asked is, “How can we correct this?” and not “How can we prevent this next time?”

5)      Process improvement exercise is triggered only when major problems are encountered.

It is said, “There are no shortcuts in life” – this adage aptly suits the quality improvement initiative as well. Process is a framework which people use to deliver quality products and services. Organization’s quality culture evolves when good people consistently follow a set of continually improving processes.

I have seen companies who perceive process implementation as a loss in immediate productivity because people will have to spend time in maintaining process artifacts. They miss a very important point that undefined and ad-hoc processes only lead to unpredictability of outcomes. It hurts organization’s brand. None of the process models including ISO 9001:2000 and CMM guarantees short term improvements. With a consistent effort and commitment from the top management, maturity of process happens gradually, just as we mature gradually as human beings.

Economists say that the best way to get good return from the stock market is to have an investment timeframe of a few years and not a few months. Short-term gains may be a stroke of luck – but luck is has never been a sustainable strategy! Same principles apply to your quality improvement initiative. Without a commitment to improve and long term thinking on processes, you may have successes based on individual heroism but never a sustainable model that delivers consistent quality.

Most successful organizations are built on a solid process framework. Companies that avoid power of processes soon hit the glass ceiling. People build the organizations and process helps organizations scale up smoothly.

Today’s marketplace demands that you consistently exceed customer’s expectations. You can run the organization on chaos or you can have systems that help you/your people become more effective. It is a choice that makes all the difference!

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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  • http://www.mountainstate.typepad.com/leadership Becky Robinson

    Wow- there is a lot of great information here, Tanmay. I especially appreciate your focus on the importance of being proactive in implementing effective processes for quality. Can't wait for the rest of the series… and the book.

  • http://www.qaspire.com/blog Tanmay Vora

    Hi Becky –

    I am glad you liked the idea in the post. Thanks for the encouragement.

    Regards,

    Tanmay Vora

  • Skip Angel

    Good post Tanmay,

    I think you captured the thought that our short term actions can many times have a negative impact to the long term. In Lean thinking, the concept of Optimizing the Whole is introduced making sure that the organization focus on the entire deliver chain and not suboptimize at a departmental or lower level. What may be good for a particular department may cause a lot of waste, rework and lack value from the “big picture” perspective.

  • http://www.qaspire.com/blog Tanmay Vora

    Thanks for adding an interesting perspective to the post. I totally agree that what may work for one department may not work as well for other. In TQM, the idea is to have processes that eliminate “departmental fortresses” where people work in departments and not as a team.

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  • quality_spoc

    Software guys are mostly delivery focussed but bring their focus on quality related stuff.Seems to be very difficult :-).Quality initiatives and quality scorecards have became additional selling proposition for offshore IT services.But always remember any new client first looks it organisation delivery capabliites and then quality framework.

  • quality_spoc

    Software guys are mostly delivery focussed but bring their focus on quality related stuff.Seems to be very difficult :-).Quality initiatives and quality scorecards have became additional selling proposition for offshore IT services.But always remember any new client first looks it organisation delivery capabliites and then quality framework.

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  • http://qmsconsultants.com/NABH.html NABH

    I really appreciate your post and you explain each and every point very well.Thanks for sharing this information.And I’ll love to read your next post too.
    Regards:
    NABH

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

    Gujarati translation of this article can be seen @

    ગુણવત્તા-સંસ્કૃતિ- ૧ || ગુણવત્તા લાંબા ગાળાનું પરિવર્તક પરિબળ છે. (http://webgurjari.in/2013/12/13/%e0%aa%97%e0%ab%81%e0%aa%a3%e0%aa%b5%e0%aa%a4%e0%ab%8d%e0%aa%a4%e0%aa%be-%e0%aa%b8%e0%aa%82%e0%aa%b8%e0%ab%8d%e0%aa%95%e0%ab%83%e0%aa%a4%e0%aa%bf-1/)

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