Creating a Culture of Quality
The April, 2014 Harvard Business Review has an article about creating a culture of quality. The authors found that a culture of quality will save $13,400 per employee per year. Surveyed participants also said it takes two hours to fix a mistake. Joseph Juran often said that companies lose a quarter (25%) of their revenue finding and fixing mistakes and errors, so this gives us a benchmark and a reason to embrace quality.
“Companies that take a grassroots, peer-driven approach develop a culture of quality. Traditional strategies have little effect.”
Four Factors that Drive Quality
- Leadership – As Deming said: “The aim of superision should be the help people and machines and gadgets do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul.” Many of Deming’s 14 points highlight leadership.
- Message credibility – Deming said: “Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service.”
- Peer Involvement – Deming again: “Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales and production must work as a team.
- Employee Ownership – Deming: “Remove barriers that rob workers of their pride of workmanship. Put everybody in the company to work to acocumplish the transformation.”
Obviously, since Deming began touting his 14 points decades ago, creating a culture of quality isn’t as simple as training a few Black Belts and moving on to other tasks. It requires endless commitment and attention from all employees. If you could save $13,400 per employee per year and add that to the bottom line what would that do for your company’s profitability? For your employee’s morale? For customer loyalty?
The good news is that you can start today. The bad news is that you will never be finished. Lean Six Sigma is easy. Creating a culture of quality is hard. And it’s easy to kill a culture of quality. A new CEO can do it in a matter of months. How are you going to create and sustain the focus required?
It isn’t easy, but it is worth it.