How Do You “Sell” Quality?

In my role as CEO of ASQ, I have many opportunities to explain quality. And here and there I have a chance to “sell” quality to a decision-maker.  What happen as a result of these explanations and sales pitches is uncertain to me, but I welcome any opportunity to raise the voice of quality and spread the word.

I was in Stockholm, Sweden, last Wednesday, conducting a Future of Quality workshop for the Swedish Institute for Quality (SIQ.) Over the years I’ve conducted these workshops all over the world and we end the workshop with a question.  “Given all I’ve learned about the future of quality, and the changes in quality management that I can now anticipate, the pressing question I’d most like an answer to is….?”

Nearly every workshop will include some variation of this question.  How do I convince senior executives (often CEOs) and public officials that quality is important and an essential strategy for–pick your ending–performance excellence, competitiveness, growth, sustainability, survival, efficiency, effectiveness?

I know this question has plagued the quality community for close to 70 years.  I can hear the good Dr. Deming answer, “You don’t have to change (use quality). Survival isn’t mandatory.” Dr. Deming had a good way of challenging thought. 

Those of you who “sell” quality, and have the opportunity to pitch to senior decision makers:  What have you found to be the essential answer? And for those who have the experience of taking the message globally, does the same pitch work everywhere, or do you have to adjust the story to accommodate cultural differences?

(I reference the Future of Quality workshop, which is based on the triennial ASQ Future of Quality Study. I also recommend a companion work by Greg Watson, Chairman of the International Academy of Quality.)

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24 Responses to How Do You “Sell” Quality?

  1. Ian DeWeerd says:

    Great, thought provoking blog post Mr. Borawski! I feel we have to translate Quality into a language executives understand in order to sell it. Most often this language will be dollars and cents. We have to be able to provide the measurements of Quality in terms of money earned or saved. It is also crucial that we clearly demonstrate the cause and effect relationship between quality and financial results.

    I work in the pharmaceutical industry where the quality of our drugs is invaluable for our patient’s safety. A quality failure in our industry could have a direct impact on the health and safety of our customers. But even in the face of such life threatening consequences, it is still often difficult to “sell” quality without associating some sort of financial benefit.

    • Sevgi says:

      Great discussion. I can offer some exicrpenee from my first start up and my current company both involved in selling quality in some way. The first start up was about increasing rail asset utilization; the current is about introducing consistency in the software development process early on to remove defects at the beginning of the chain when it is the cheapest and most effective. Both are good examples of the potential for dramatic and positive impact of introducing some basic quality principles in the process.I never get into a conversation where I have to “sell quality”: this is a death trap because TQM, 6s , ISO etc have ended up getting a “heavy” label (in my opinion) – all perception, I know, but a typical buyer will not want to take on these solutions because they reek of huge culture changes, endless meetings, “black belt” training and so forth.We avoid selling quality, or get too hung up on DMAIC. In both cases (rail asset utilization and software development) I too have found that unless I can talk about reducing cycle times, or reducing software development/maintenance costs, and unless this can be done very quickly without talking about changes in culture, attempts at selling quality fall on deaf ears. In my current company, we try to stick to 3 basic questions:1.How bad is the problem? (as in – how buggy is our production software given that the house isn’t falling apart).2.What can I do about it? (where should I spend resources, and why should I allocate resources to fixing old stuff and not adding new features).3.What can I do to avoid it going forward? (what can I do avoid getting into this situation again).This is obviously an oversimplification of DMAIC, and likely will not earn me a black belt, but it is a practical framework that works. For (1) and (2), we are able to show in 24 hours where landmines are in large volumes of software. For 3, we can show how a consistent and automatic application of best practice rules will help reduce software QA cycles, and therefore pressure on schedules. Instead of talking about DMAIC, at least in this very small niche, we talk about automatically introducing consistency into the development process.So far it is working for us. Hopefully this was not too long winded – appreciate any feedback – and thanks for starting this thread.Roy Masrani l CEOE: l T: (403) 875-0809 l W: codeExcellence.com Follow UsLinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/codeexcellenceTwitter: twitter.com/codeExcellenceSkype: rmasrani

  2. Joseph Sener says:

    I read your posting about How to Sell Quality with great interest along with your quote from Dr. Demming. I am reminded of a quote from Einstain as well. Doing things the same way and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. My flippant response has sometimes been, ‘Your old ways have worked so well for you, you are in a (enter appropriate issue here — consent decree, warning letter , etc.)’

  3. Mark Graban says:

    I think if we’re still having to sell CEOs on the importance of quality, maybe that battle has already been lost. Dr. Deming couldn’t convince them… maybe we just have to try to educate young managers and leaders in new ways of doing business (like Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman’s).

    http://www.leanblog.org/2012/03/management-lessons-from-zingermans-ari-weinzweig/

    You don’t have to convince Ari that quality matters. Instead of trying to convert CEOs who don’t care about quality, I think an interesting question is to ask how they even got to be CEO with that attitude… that’s quite a systemic problem without an easy fix.

    • Lia says:

      Customers sell quality to CEO’s, we don’t.We (internal or earxtnel) have to find solutions to customer-related issues.My experience is with companies that manufacture, not withservice operations.Often customers complain of reliability or parmetric variations.Many times its batch related variability. (IBM called them maverick lots many years ago and started a supplier focus on outier lots, sub-lots, and finally outlier parts, regardless of engineering specification limits.)But very often they show up as costs, which is why the CEO seems obsessed with costs.Once that key customer defined a quality issue to the many CEO’s in their supply chain, an entire industry benefitted. Years later, the automotive industry saw the maverick lot initiatives driven by IBM and adopted them as Statisticial Bin Limits and Part Average Testing limits to contain outliers within the engineering spec limits.Consultants are rarely called until the problem has become chronic, or customers have been lost, so they are often doing triage for a very sick company.So by that time, a major transformation is being sold.I had to tell one CEO that their organization was totally ineffective in manufacturing, and that the transformation needed could not be performed fast enough for their new product roadmap, so they needed to outsource but only if the designers would learn to design for manufacturing in the newer better factory. Their reply was they their state-of-art product design was unacceptable to any known foundries. But could be made in their labs (which is what they were doing, with low yield, high cost, inadquate capacity, but GREAT success with customer sampling!). That meant mechanizing and systematizing an R/D process, for a company that had not done that before, and where the materials and methods chosen did not align with any existing equipment vendor solution. That is not a classic quality problem but is very common CEO cost problem with startups.Good industrial engineering (a al Lean) and careful analysis of the best practices of the R/D experts in terms of measurement systems and lab process tools, can provide insights that may lead to modification of commercial gages and tools for their new requirements. Again, not classic quality scenario, but clearly linked the customer requirement created by their state of art samples to the reality of an evolving factory as it moves from 2 sigma to 4 sigma minimum, using good engineering in disciplined framework, with a major emphasis on precision metrology, careful experimentation, process control (EPC or SPC or both), and liason with sampled customers on gaps and loose ends ..forever.The old IBM did understand manufacturing, and knew when it was time to get out of it, as their suppliers had learned the key lessons needed to assure stable, capable supply. Many systems companies learned to manage a complex supply chain of foundries and subcons, after failing to manage in vertically integreted company. Many companies died a slow death never understanding what the customer was telling them due to arrogance. Many startups never got out of the lab environment, but we bought out by visionaries that moved their ideas into production environment.Toyota evolved slowly at first by simplification, standardization, cost control, and respect for the voice of the customer AND the worker. Those are all quality issues but they involve serious engineering and leadership, and the timing is not always ideal.

  4. jeff jones says:

    It has been my experience that the fear of loss is greater than the desire to gain. The way it relates to selling quality is you have to sell what the company or ceo is going to lose by not having quality – not what they will gain. This might sound like an oversimplification but it isn’t. Think about it. A company doesn’t want quality sales – they want to close more sales. Our quality initiatives help them find out why they aren’t closing more sales. So, we really have to not just sell the features and benefits of better quality we have to talk about the problem that is being solved.

  5. Gary says:

    Your question was asked on iSixSigma as well – I posted this response there as well.

    A somewhat jaded view on Paul’s question -

    It’s hard to sell quality because –
    1) Most people think they know what it is (and they are wrong).
    2) Most Quality professionals are not well educated in Quality.
    3) People who have been taught Lean and/or Six Sigma think they are instant Quality professionals (and they are wrong).
    4) Quality Systems are not sexy and the understanding of them has been degraded by ISO and QS 9000.
    5) Business professionals are being taught to be profitable by tricks or spending cuts (including people).
    5) Where is the next Deming or Juran? It’s certainly not George, Harry, Shook, Liker, Womack, or the myriad of others out there promoting me me me or trying to be a social media rock star.

    The problem with Quality is that it is hard, disciplined like Lean, analytical like Six Sigma, and has to be flavored generously with good business sense, good common sense, and unshakable integrity. Turns out there are too many easier ways to make money starting way back when we started exporting jobs to enrich executive bonuses at the expense of loyal employees. Who needs process knowledge when we can get it cheaper in China and take home a few million and think of ourselves as a genius?

    • Mark says:

      Could not have stated it better. To many MBAs in the Executive Suite selling America workers “down the drain” and the middle class values overseas………….

  6. Elias Monreal says:

    Engineering programs teach us the fundamentals: Statistics, Chemistry, Physics, Calculus, but unfortunately do not teach us in HOW to sell our ideas. For most of us engineers, selling is a foreign language. Holly Duckworth and I discuss a few tips on this topic in iSixSigma Magazine July-2008 article titled; Closing the Deal: How to Sell Ideas to Management.

  7. Abdulrahman Alhwairini says:

    Great thoughts

    I would like to add that some of the management has little patience to wait for the benefits of implementing the quality and instead focusing on short-term returns on investment. Importantly, quality would succeed if implemented as a major organizational change and a long-term invest, rather than as a quick fix.

  8. I don’t sell quality, I sell good management systems. Use practical examles. Yesterday, I was in the owners office of a small manufacture. One of the workers from the shop came and told him he had finished the assembly of a job but was one hydraulic hose short, there was a truck coming in about an hour to deliver the job to the customer. I was auditng purchasing as part of their ISO 9001 process. I asked to see the purchase order for the hoses. The owner said he ordered them over the phone, no paperwork was involved. I asked him how much will it cost him to have the hose made up on a rush job, how much it will cost to have expedited shipping and how much time did he lose having the fabricator run into the office to tell him the problem, go and get the hose and put it into the assembly on overtime. I think Mr. Jones is correct, the fear of loss put into dollars and customer good will gets their attention. One final thought get them to understand that it is a good management system not a “quality” managment system.

  9. Thank you for this article, Paul. It was the first time I felt inclined to ponder the many years you have interfaced with C-level executives, politicians and other types of leaders throughout the world. In your enduring role as ASQ’s CEO, you are certainly in a unique position to ask the most compelling questions about quality to the most compelling audiences.

    I have sensed bitterness on this topic, and on related topics, in postings on many other job boards, from many former manufacturing executives, including those from quality, who have lost their livelihoods to the continuing economic crisis. Similarly, there are discussions about how the United States has lost its revenue-generating foundation of manufacturing companies to countries with inexpensive labor markets and with no, or easier to comply with, regulatory compliance challenges… whether it be environmental regulation, financial regulation or safety-related regulation. As an American, although I am proud of what I consider to be a superior quality of life relative to what those in other countries enjoy, I look at the web we have woven for ourselves, a web some might call a ‘safety net’, and realize it also entraps us. I look at the constraints we must manage within, constraints that some might say are there to protect us from corruption or self-destruction, and realize that we are the ones chained, handcuffed and behind bars… and not always those who strive to profit by cheating or harming us. The increasingly cumbersome task of consistently complying with so many rules, rules which seem to become more abundant and more complex with every attempt to innovate a circumvention, makes us easy targets for criticism and penalty, even from one another.

    What I learned as a quality professional, significantly under-employed in relation to prior years, was that, when one loses everything, one can mistakenly believe one has nothing left to lose. Poverty, whether of the material sort or of the spiritual sort, breeds desparation… and contempt. There can be a sense of freedom that comes from release of material things…. but, when one’s spirit is broken, there can be a sense of hopelessness that breeds another kind of self-oppression born of real or imagined transgression against one’s own kind.

    I still think America is the place that freedom on earth has been proven to work. That freedom continues to be hard-won through the blood, sweat and tears of America’s people. American quality professionals have a crucial role to play in today’s global manufacturing workplace. I believe that new role is to effectively communicate that there can be no quality of goods or services without quality of work life and that, without quality of work life, there can be no quality of life. We need to lead our fellow leaders, in other areas of expertise, with other life purposes, toward the highest quality on every available path.

    I believe that a mistake that is often made is to believe that, because quality is everybody’s responsibility, so is communication about it. I believe that another mistake that is often made is to believe that quality in goods and services is separate from quality of work life or from quality of life. While all things are interrelated, none seem essential for the survival of the other. Yet, I believe that there is more than material or economic efficacy to be considered. I refer to our spirits. Call me a goofball if you wish, but my purpose, the purpose I have embraced, is to improve the quality of life for all beings on this planet. How can we hope to thrive beyond this world if we cannot thrive on this one? How can the quality of life beyond this planet be of value if we cannot value the quality of life on earth?

    I know I am not the best of the best communicators about quality or about anything else… but there are truly great communicators among us. I know that I am not the most economicallly powerful force, but there are those with the economic power to convey this message effectively among us. I know that I am not the greatest voice for quality that lives today, but there are others who are and have not yet been heard. My mission is to find them and connect them with great communicators and the resources required to convey that message.

    You are in a unique position to participate in that mission. Please help us help ourselves and every other creature on earth. Keep asking profound questions of profound audiences, for now. When you hear the right answers… please continue to help amplify the voices who speak them so that more can hear and, those who are able, have an opportunity to understand.

  10. For me quality is about customer perception. Quality is a abstract concept. It is about customer satisfaction. Business is selling a “need” to customer, CEO to executive our job is to provide the need. It is about how our customer feels about our product. What is quality for him is more important than what is the definition of quality in our text book. If we can understand and make others to understand, I hope we can sell the quality.

  11. Ayana says:

    A very interesting and relevant question, but difficult to have a direct straight-forward answer.
    Yes, agreed, that as Quality professionals, we are always driven upto the wall to come out with innovative means to sell quality. Often, it is seen that adding financial benefits to quality may not give you enough credibility. Questions start getting raised, as to how, you have arrived at the financial calculations. Fact is, it is often not possible to tag financials to quality concepts.
    One should look at the business angle. How Quality concepts can address the problems that Business and Delivery is facing. It is very important for Quality professionals to understand the underlying Business that they are supporting. Once the management gets a feeler that we are speaking Business language, half the battle is won…..

    • Maximo says:

      Q: Am I being nostalgic, or does the qultaiy community bear some responsibility for making sure its philosophic foundations are not lost to history?A: If someone doesn’t know who Deming and Juran are, I agree it is quite sad and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s like a congressman not knowing of Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. It’s surprising since Deming and Juran’s work essentially built qultaiy engineering principles and the qultaiy management system. Their work is still very valuable to solving today’s qultaiy problems, modern qultaiy publications still reference Deming and Juran’s work. Q: What do professionals under the age of 35 see as the future of qultaiy?A: I see further growth in qultaiy.People turn to qultaiy when times get tough. The US and the rest of the world is at a slowed pace of economic growth. Companies will seek out lean and six sigma practices to maximize existing resources.With baby boomers retiring you will see a smaller workforce which leads to lean and six sigma practices. As baby boomers get older I anticipate a lot of growth in qultaiy principles in medical service sector such as hospitals seeking to create efficiency and better services for customers.There is a lot of global competition. Companies still continue to outsource and purchase materials from outside the US. Companies domestically and abroad will seek how to get an advantage and one of those will be to use qultaiy principles.Quality will utilize technology, but the core concepts will remain the same. As technology has grown, Deming’s and Juran’s principles have continued to be applicable. A few new ideas or guidances will hopefully come out on how to use that technology with qultaiy. Since Deming and Juran’s ideas came out we already have MS Excel, JMP, electronic signatures and records, inspection systems capable of 100% inspection, interactive computerized learning modules, networked systems.Currently, no one can learn about qultaiy principles from k-12 or in college. Industrial engineers comes close, but it’s only a small part of the QMS. To learn about qultaiy principles you need to get your masters in qultaiy, learn it through an elective in some MBA programs, take courses designed for the working professional, or learn on the job. I’ve seen an expansion in learning about qultaiy, I don’t know exactly when but the graduate courses are fairly recent. There is job growth in the qultaiy field and a major lack of highly trained and skilled qultaiy folks, so I expect it would be a matter of time before it is offered as a major in college.

  12. Sometimes with numbers… sometimes with education… but what is “sad” is that in 2012, quality professional still have to ‘convince’ senior executives about the benefits of implementing quality.

    I agree with Mark Graban that instead of trying to convert CEOs who don’t care about quality, an interesting question is to ask how they even got to be CEO with that attitude.

    Awesome topic Paul Borawski! It is amazing to read how every single Influential Voices member and the entire community has different thoughts about the topic.

    Be invited to visit my response at http://onquality.blogspot.com/2012/03/how-do-you-sell-quality.html

  13. Julia Kolker says:

    Thanks for your thoughts and comments, everyone! Great discussion, and a lot of issues to consider. In early April, we will do a roundup of all the feedback we’ve received on this topic.

    regards,
    Julia Kolker
    ASQ Communications

  14. Gordon Robb says:

    When I worked as a TQM advisor many years ago, I tried to simplify (demystify) it as “Everyone in the organisation knowing what they do, for who, and being committed to work with them to improve it”. It seemed to work for me.

    Great thought provoking blog post.

  15. Michael Clayton says:

    Customers sell quality to CEO’s, we don’t.
    We (internal or external) have to find solutions to customer-related issues.
    My experience is with companies that manufacture, not withservice operations.
    Often customers complain of reliability or parmetric variations.
    Many times its batch related variability. (IBM called them “maverick lots” many years ago and started a supplier focus on outier lots, sub-lots, and finally outlier parts, regardless of engineering specification limits.)
    But very often they show up as costs, which is why the CEO seems obsessed with costs.
    Once that key customer defined a “quality issue” to the many CEO’s in their supply chain, an entire industry benefitted. Years later, the automotive industry saw the “maverick lot” initiatives driven by IBM and adopted them as Statisticial Bin Limits and Part Average Testing limits to contain outliers within the engineering spec limits.

    Consultants are rarely called until the problem has become chronic, or customers have been lost, so they are often doing triage for a very sick company.
    So by that time, a major transformation is being sold.
    I had to tell one CEO that their organization was totally ineffective in manufacturing, and that the transformation needed could not be performed fast enough for their new product roadmap, so they needed to outsource but only if the designers would learn to design for manufacturing in the newer better factory. Their reply was they their state-of-art product design was unacceptable to any known foundries. But could be made in their labs (which is what they were doing, with low yield, high cost, inadquate capacity, but GREAT success with customer sampling!). That meant mechanizing and systematizing an R/D process, for a company that had not done that before, and where the materials and methods chosen did not align with any existing equipment vendor solution. That is not a classic “quality” problem but is very common CEO “cost” problem with startups.
    Good industrial engineering (a al Lean) and careful analysis of the “best practices” of the R/D experts in terms of measurement systems and lab process tools, can provide insights that may lead to modification of commercial gages and tools for their new requirements. Again, not classic quality scenario, but clearly linked the customer requirement created by their “state of art” samples to the reality of an evolving factory as it moves from 2 sigma to 4 sigma minimum, using good engineering in disciplined framework, with a major emphasis on precision metrology, careful experimentation, process control (EPC or SPC or both), and liason with sampled customers on gaps and loose ends…..forever.
    The old IBM did understand manufacturing, and knew when it was time to get out of it, as their suppliers had learned the key lessons needed to assure stable, capable supply. Many systems companies learned to manage a complex supply chain of foundries and subcons, after failing to manage in vertically integreted company. Many companies died a slow death never understanding what the customer was telling them due to arrogance. Many startups never got out of the lab environment, but we bought out by visionaries that moved their ideas into production environment.
    Toyota evolved slowly at first by simplification, standardization, cost control, and respect for the voice of the customer AND the worker.

    Those are all “quality” issues but they involve serious engineering and leadership, and the timing is not always ideal.

  16. Deborah Schrier-Blosser says:

    This is a fantastic discussion to be having. I have really enjoyed reading the posts. I have a few thoughts I’d like to add. I can see that along with some good ideas there is a not so small vibe of frustration which I completely under stand.
    One thing that occurs to me is perhaps one of the biggest issues we have with “Selling” quality to the guys with the wallets is the selling part. People know when your selling them something. The way you pitch or present your self , how you chart your system. quality is a tool, a management system, a way of life. If we present it like a toy or packaged service people are going to pick it apart and expect it to do every thing with out trying to change the way they really do things. It is my opinion that until we change the way we perceive quality as an idea we will not exact the cultural change that is so desperately needed.
    Cheers for the blog.
    Best Wishes
    Deborah

  17. Roy Masrani says:

    Great discussion.

    I can offer some experience from my first start up and my current company – both involved in selling “quality” in some way. The first start up was about increasing rail asset utilization; the current is about introducing consistency in the software development process early on to remove defects at the beginning of the chain when it is the cheapest and most effective. Both are good examples of the potential for dramatic and positive impact of introducing some basic quality principles in the process.

    I never get into a conversation where I have to “sell quality”: this is a death trap because TQM, 6s , ISO etc have ended up getting a “heavy” label (in my opinion) – all perception, I know, but a typical buyer will not want to take on these solutions because they reek of huge culture changes, endless meetings, “black belt” training and so forth.

    We avoid selling quality, or get too hung up on DMAIC. In both cases (rail asset utilization and software development) I too have found that unless I can talk about reducing cycle times, or reducing software development/maintenance costs, and unless this can be done very quickly without talking about changes in culture, attempts at selling quality fall on deaf ears.

    In my current company, we try to stick to 3 basic questions:
    1. How bad is the problem? (as in – how buggy is our production software given that the house isn’t falling apart).
    2. What can I do about it? (where should I spend resources, and why should I allocate resources to fixing old stuff and not adding new features).
    3. What can I do to avoid it going forward? (what can I do avoid getting into this situation again).

    This is obviously an oversimplification of DMAIC, and likely will not earn me a black belt, but it is a practical framework that works. For (1) and (2), we are able to show in 24 hours where landmines are in large volumes of software. For 3, we can show how a consistent and automatic application of best practice rules will help reduce software QA cycles, and therefore pressure on schedules. Instead of talking about DMAIC, at least in this very small niche, we talk about automatically introducing consistency into the development process.

    So far it is working for us.

    Hopefully this was not too long winded – appreciate any feedback – and thanks for starting this thread.

    Roy Masrani l CEO
    E: rmasrani@codeexcellence.com l T: (403) 875-0809 l W: codeExcellence.com

    Follow Us
    LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/codeexcellence
    Twitter: twitter.com/codeExcellence
    Skype: rmasrani

  18. Pingback: March Roundup: Can We “Sell” Quality? | A View from the Q

  19. Santosh Mishra says:

    Th,is is a great question easy to ask and difficult to get the right answer. But now it has the weight of ASQ and so many quality leaders , hopefully the trickles will become a stream to be visible in next few yyears. There have been many interesting comments and let me add my 2 cents having been head of quality for more than 10 years and still struggling to “sell quality”without success

    1. quality should not be treated as cost center(which 90% is the case) but cost of doing business(part of business)
    2. I agree to Mark above that if we are in the phase of selling quality, we have lost it
    3. Biggest problem is that as quality folks we are not talking the business language but are inward looking with processes. We have to talk like a BU Head & make ourselves heard
    4. In any presentation, start with the end slide first(remember CEOs do not have time and are impatient and if we have not made an impact in the first 2 slides, we have lost it). You will never go to the last slide where you have the recommendations
    5. More than 90% of CEOs will raise their hand if asked ïs quality important to their business” but will not know how to leverage it. Here is our chance to convert/exploit that. CEOs do not understand quality/they are not equipped. How many quality heads you know have become CEOs in last decade? No one other than us know better how to relate the process excellence to business results
    6. Most of us focus on the hard aspects fo quality where as in reality it is soft aspects like culture which are more important and we are not equipped well for this ourselves and hence focus on tools & techniques hoping like hell that it will deliver and are repeatedly surprised that they do not
    7. Our accounting practices need to change to accomodate benefits in $ due to say improvement in productivity etc. Until that happens, sales folks will have sway over us
    8. Somehow we need to deflect this We/They divide. Quality has to be perceived to be part of business. We ahve to create the PULL & just get away from the PUSH which is common
    9. Demanding customers with an eye for quality will change overnight the percepttions on quality by CEOs
    10. Most of our process improvement initiatives are not internilised there by CEOs do not see anything visibly and hence the disbelief. They are business driven and will get up at 2 am if someone tells them they lost business of say 10Mn $ because poor quality. Even loss of a big order is a good enough reason for them to want to talk to quality head
    11. May be to start with dissolve quality department & name it business excellence? You may say whats in a name but I beg to differ.The word quality has been used/abused beyond recognition. I am a firm believer that quality will never be out of business. We just need to be very creative
    12. Our focus has to be mentor and shape young quality professionals getting into the market. This is a sure bet to ensure all what we sow today will bear fruit 10 years later

    So the question is will it ever change? Yes it will when something drastic happens like losing customers!

    Having said, let’s not be sceptical. We folks have to talk in numbers(I also read somewhere 90% CEOs do not believe our ROI figures!!) talk only in business lingo, get the middle management convinced(believe me it will flow upwards but will take time so divert your efforts elsewhere and do not give up)

    Would like to urge for more views/comments from senior folks in quaity. I am sure someone at ASQ is taking notes and will remove the grain from chaf and publish the gist later for benefit of all of us with a set fo guidelines for quality heads worldwide?

    Preparing for the next big bang question: Quality in the board room!!

    Santosh

  20. Marta says:

    Thank you for this article, Paul. It was the first time I felt innciled to ponder the many years you have interfaced with C-level executives, politicians and other types of leaders throughout the world. In your enduring role as ASQ’s CEO, you are certainly in a unique position to ask the most compelling questions about quality to the most compelling audiences.I have sensed bitterness on this topic, and on related topics, in postings on many other job boards, from many former manufacturing executives, including those from quality, who have lost their livelihoods to the continuing economic crisis. Similarly, there are discussions about how the United States has lost its revenue-generating foundation of manufacturing companies to countries with inexpensive labor markets and with no, or easier to comply with, regulatory compliance challenges whether it be environmental regulation, financial regulation or safety-related regulation. As an American, although I am proud of what I consider to be a superior quality of life relative to what those in other countries enjoy, I look at the web we have woven for ourselves, a web some might call a safety net’, and realize it also entraps us. I look at the constraints we must manage within, constraints that some might say are there to protect us from corruption or self-destruction, and realize that we are the ones chained, handcuffed and behind bars and not always those who strive to profit by cheating or harming us. The increasingly cumbersome task of consistently complying with so many rules, rules which seem to become more abundant and more complex with every attempt to innovate a circumvention, makes us easy targets for criticism and penalty, even from one another.What I learned as a quality professional, significantly under-employed in relation to prior years, was that, when one loses everything, one can mistakenly believe one has nothing left to lose. Poverty, whether of the material sort or of the spiritual sort, breeds desparation and contempt. There can be a sense of freedom that comes from release of material things . but, when one’s spirit is broken, there can be a sense of hopelessness that breeds another kind of self-oppression born of real or imagined transgression against one’s own kind.I still think America is the place that freedom on earth has been proven to work. That freedom continues to be hard-won through the blood, sweat and tears of America’s people. American quality professionals have a crucial role to play in today’s global manufacturing workplace. I believe that new role is to effectively communicate that there can be no quality of goods or services without quality of work life and that, without quality of work life, there can be no quality of life. We need to lead our fellow leaders, in other areas of expertise, with other life purposes, toward the highest quality on every available path.I believe that a mistake that is often made is to believe that, because quality is everybody’s responsibility, so is communication about it. I believe that another mistake that is often made is to believe that quality in goods and services is separate from quality of work life or from quality of life. While all things are interrelated, none seem essential for the survival of the other. Yet, I believe that there is more than material or economic efficacy to be considered. I refer to our spirits. Call me a goofball if you wish, but my purpose, the purpose I have embraced, is to improve the quality of life for all beings on this planet. How can we hope to thrive beyond this world if we cannot thrive on this one? How can the quality of life beyond this planet be of value if we cannot value the quality of life on earth? I know I am not the best of the best communicators about quality or about anything else but there are truly great communicators among us. I know that I am not the most economicallly powerful force, but there are those with the economic power to convey this message effectively among us. I know that I am not the greatest voice for quality that lives today, but there are others who are and have not yet been heard. My mission is to find them and connect them with great communicators and the resources required to convey that message. You are in a unique position to participate in that mission. Please help us help ourselves and every other creature on earth. Keep asking profound questions of profound audiences, for now. When you hear the right answers please continue to help amplify the voices who speak them so that more can hear and, those who are able, have an opportunity to understand.