Creating a Quality Culture

Improvement Insights Blog

Creating a Quality Culture

There’s a hard way and an easier way to create quality culture. Which one will you choose?

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma Demystified” and QI Macros [software].

“You know, I think when we think about this, everybody wants to create a Quality Culture, right? And they think that you need to do certain things to make that happen. Guess what? I don’t think that’s true.

“One of the things we know is 70% of all change efforts fail, so even if you have the best of intentions, the most money, the best leadership commitment, 70% will fail. That’s a one-sigma performance. No, that’s bad!

“So here’s what I would like you each to learn how to do: Tell a Quality Improvement story that you’ve worked on. I just go out and I say, “I helped one Health Care System save $5 million in [denied insurance] claims” and people in healthcare will [ask] “Well, how did you do that?” Then I can tell them a story about how we did some data analysis, control charts, Pareto charts, fishbone [diagrams], got people involved, did root cause analysis and came up with ways to save $5 million in denied insurance claims. That’s big money!

“Or I could say “I worked with one poultry manufacturing company and helped them save $3 million in frozen chicken.” “What?! How did you do that?” Well, they had an ammonia spill and they had to prove to the FDA that they hadn’t contaminated the frozen chicken. We had to compare it with these other [batches of chicken] using statistics.

“So can you come up with a single lead sentence or something and then a little background information to get people going? They’ll [think] “Oh, that Quality stuff works!”

“I will tell you, spreadsheets are not that great. Nobody wants to read your spreadsheet, but a great story beats a spreadsheet every time. Learn how to tell great Quality Improvement stories and that will start to shift toward a Quality Culture. The more you do that, and the more you help other people…

“Take an apprentice, teach somebody something about Quality Improvement. Don’t wait for a training class, you can send them to my Yellow Belt training: free Yellow Belt training and get them started. Then help them and coach them along a little bit until they can start to do it, and you start to build a quality culture one person at a time. Pretty soon it’ll start to spring up.

“There’s a whole field of study around the diffusion of Innovations, which says if you can get 4% of the people in an organization doing something, it’ll stick; if you get to 16% it’ll take off. Now, you could wait for somebody else to do that, but I don’t think that’s a good idea. Start where you are, take some apprentice… you know, pretend you’re Obi-Wan, get a Padawan learner and teach them Quality Improvement.

“That’s my Improvement Insight this week. Let’s go out and improve someone’s ability to understand Quality Improvement and to start to use the Tools of Quality to make improvements. Too easy.”

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