Upon reviewing the comments posted in response to my first “View from the Q,” I’m excited by the depth and breadth of reflections from our Influential Voices, as well as others, on my question—“What would it take for the 21st Century to be the Century of Quality?” Responses came from passionate quality professionals from four continents! Thank you all.
The reflections tapped into a long-standing issue. Quality means different things to different people at different times. For some, quality is inherently related to the output of the organization—its product or service. For others, quality is a philosophy of improvement. And for some, quality is the totality of managing a sustainable organization. I don’t know whether this diversity of thought helps the quality community or hinders it.
It’s clear there is ample opportunity to help others understand quality. ASQ’s Knowledge Center, for example, holds many examples of quality’s impact. Yet we can’t take quality for granted. A lot of executives think quality is an attribute of product, less so of service. There’s a revelation when I suggest the same concepts that assure improved product (or service) quality over time can be applied to assure improved organizational outcomes.
We need to reach executives and convince them to provide visible leadership on the topic of quality. And that’s a challenge for ASQ and the quality community. What language do we use? Jennifer Stepniowski provides great advice—keep it simple and relevant.
When I ask executives if quality is important, the answer is never “no.” When I ask where quality comes from, I get questioning looks. I usually follow up with, “Do you think all you need for good quality is good intention?” If they’re still puzzled, I say something like, “Well, quality is the set the concepts, techniques, and tools that connect good intention with realized and sustainable outcomes.” Sometimes I see a light go on; other times I know I’m not using the right language. Let’s pay special attention to executives who get it and work to make sure their voices are heard!
Your comments support ASQ’s perspective that if we want to make the 21st Century the Century of Quality, we have a lot of work to do. Every voice is needed. The louder the better.