Moving Quality Beyond Product

From time to time things cross my desk that I want to share. Perhaps you’re aware of an organization called The Conference Board in the United States. Its reach is global and high in the C-Suite. Every year The Conference Board polls CEOs to identify their top-of-mind challenges. This report obviously makes good reading if you want to know what CEOs care about. More importantly to the quality community is the analysis of the findings by the Conference Board Quality Council, and advice on how quality executives and the quality community can respond in value-added ways.

If you’re looking for ways to move quality up the corporate agenda – being responsive to the challenges of the CEO is an excellent start. The Conference Board Quality Council was kind enough to provide access to “Answering The Conference Board CEO Challenge © 2012” (PDF, 334 KB). The authors are notable – Mike Adams (retired Allegheny Energy) , Charles Brandon, Ph.D. (U.S. Department of Defense), Alka Jarvis (Cisco Systems Inc.), and Rebecca Yueng (FedEx.) I recommend the read.

I’ll let you read the report to know more about what CEOs are thinking about, but here’s the hit parade – innovation, human capital, global political/economic risk, government regulation, global expansion, cost optimization, customer relationships, sustainability, corporate brand and reputation, and investor relations. And the Quality Council report provides great insights on how the quality community is responding and what it can do better.

And therein lies the seed for my question of the day. The opening paragraph of the Quality Council’s perspective is, “For some organizations, ‘quality’ remains a set of tools and techniques associated almost exclusively with quality control. For others, quality has evolved into a critical partner, closely linked with business model development and the enterprise-wide execution of long-term strategy to achieve results.”

I have seen this dichotomy often. For some executives, their understanding of quality is exclusive to product. For others, it’s the improved performance of the enterprise, which includes the product/service. Obviously I side with the later. What success have you had in moving quality beyond product? Share your stories, please.

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