We observe November as World Quality Month, and I invite you to view www.worldqualitymonth.org and learn about the events and activities of quality organizations around the world. Although World Quality Month began in 2010, quality-themed celebrations have a longer history. For example, since 1990 the United Nations has decreed the second Thursday of November as World Quality Day.
Around the world the need to build awareness for quality remains, it seems, the first objective. Leaders cannot ask for the benefits of modern quality if they are unaware of what modern quality is. And those professionals who have dedicated their careers and lives to the mastery of quality concepts, techniques, and tools will never reach their full potential until they are invited “to the table.”
Now, there are two ways to get to the table. The first is to wait and hope. The other is to ask. And if you ask, you best have your elevator speech ready to go. There is no shortage of content, proof, data, facts and examples. I often start with the classic cost of quality “rule of thumb” — in an average manufacturing company, 20% of revenue is wasted on poor quality; 30% in service companies; 70% in health care (I’m told); and you can put government anywhere on that continuum and the waste is breathtaking.
Sad, too! Sad that in the 21st century with all that is known about quality, and proven to be true, and available to every leader, that these “rules of thumb” have never been revised lower thanks to quality. Sad that waste can be tolerated, much less sustained.
I don’t want to be pessimistic. I see encouragement everywhere. Enlightened leaders are using quality to yield remarkable improvements in their organizations. Great successes are added to the quality body of knowledge every day in every corner of the world. In every field, I see young faces that understand. I feel their passion.
Why does it take so long for what is known to be true to become common practice? Or, perhaps more importantly, what can we do to accelerate the rate of adoption of quality?
November is a great time to beat the drum, put the spotlight on success, raise your voice, and initiate someone into the ranks of the aware. But let’s do it every month, shall we, until someone tells us the cost of quality has come down by half, and then half again. As consumers, patients, students, and citizens, we deserve good quality.
Yes, we have much to celebrate and we should. And we have much to do!