Do You Speak the Language of Business?

What makes a successful quality professional? A thorough understanding of the quality Body of Knowledge, STEM skills, persistence and leadership in the workplace, and—perhaps just as important—business skills.

More and more I hear that quality professionals must speak the language of business to reach the upper chambers of management at their organization. Quality knowledge cannot and should not exist in a vacuum.

Interest—and a certain anxiety—about business skills explain the popularity of this new Quality for Life video. Quality for Life is an ASQ initiative that features ASQ members who “do good” using quality.

In the video, ASQ member Prashant Hoskote speaks to the importance of training quality professionals in business. “Quality is beyond just nuts and bolts; quality is a business subject,” says Prashant. “Speak that language.”

Do you speak the “language of business”? How important is it, in your experience?

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9 Responses to Do You Speak the Language of Business?

  1. It – ability to talk the language of business” is as critical as one’s technical knowledge and ability to speak – to get any traction with leaders who don’t have your technical knowledge as well. Good post!

  2. Michael Mackinder says:

    Great perspective on quality managers as an “Islands of Knowledge” vs. “Talking the Language of Business” among all departments.

  3. Dave Wildner says:

    I totally agree! I have preaching this same message my entire 25 year career. I have a degree in business, and many ASQ certifications, however, once I became a Quality Manager, the scarlet letter stuck to my forehead, and I have yet to elevate myself higher in an organization as what he states is so true. The CEO’s everywhere are finance or sales people. We need to speak in dollars, not PPM or 6 sigma, 8D, 5Why, etc. Dollars!
    I have been working on this over the past several years, unsuccessfully.

    • Michelle Carl says:

      Absolutely agree with you on this! Business = $$ at the bottom line. That should be our ultimate goal as quality professionals. I’m currently trying to build on our current system by incorporating a cost evaluation with every change. . .I’m certain the umbrella of cost savings projects can be best co-managed by quality working alongside finance as they do not understand process as we do! Why do you feel you’ve been unsuccessful? We can all learn from what works as well as what does not work!

  4. Kishore says:

    Speaking the “language of business” (Cost of poor quality) is necessary but it is not sufficient to reach the upper chambers of management in organizations.

    Top managers must possess core competencies (management and technical) required to lead the organization and they must provide confidence that they can provide long term growth, sustainability, and results.

    Everyone in the society (not just quality professionals and top managers) should think in terms of cost of poor quality for improving the overall quality of life.

  5. Carl Lobaugh says:

    This segement needs to really hit home with every quality / performance management professional. Generally quality is looked upon as a cost center and you have to develop an understanding of how to gain resources in order to meet the demands of the client, accreditation / certifications, regualatory, etc. in a manner that is understood by business professionals since you have to develop an ROI and/or Residual Income. You are competing against many other demands of the organization for those resources and I belive that is why Six Sigma resonnated more loudly then all the other quality management programs since it more effectly tied cost of quality to these projects. Also, you must know what your organizational strategies are as all improvement projects need to be tied to those to gain better acceptance. The closer you tie the projects and programs to the client needs, organizational strategy, and compete for resources the more of an impact you may make within your organization. It would be great to see ASQ focus some of the training programs to also include topics such as Mananagerial Accounting, Market Research, Strategic Management and so on as you will see that there are alot of similarities in technological approaches that are used in different areas of skills but its the langague that is different and to also understand that language will also be a great benefit.

  6. Robert Perry says:

    I understand the need to put things into financial terms, but the flip side is that management does have the responsibility to actually understand the business. If we run our business by the visible financial results alone–Deming’s deadly poisons #2 and #5, really–we run afoul of the reality that there are a number of things in a business that are not quantifiable. In running a business by visible financials alone, we run the risk that these intangibles will be written out of the budget.

    In other words, yes, I try to quantify what I can at work, but at the same time, I think my management has a responsibility to have at least a basic understanding of the business they’re in, and how there are various intangibles that are every bit as crucial to success as cash flow, revenue, and inventory turns.

  7. Derek Lauber says:

    Speaking the language of business is critical towards moving into the higher ranks of organizations. Question is, how do you develop and practice those skills once you have the scarlet QM attached to you? It is the organizations responsibility or yours to seek out the necessary business and communication skills to speak the language? I think it is up to the person who wants to excel and move into those higher roles to obtain the help he/she needs.

  8. Robert Mathias says:

    Robert Perry put it perfectly. For a business to consistently flourish, it is an absolute necessity to have management understand more than dollars even though they ultimately speak to a profit-line. It is also necessary for non-management to understand the dollars that speak to their quality initiatives.