World Quality Month: Accelerating Quality

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!

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12 Responses to World Quality Month: Accelerating Quality

  1. Mark Graban says:

    What’s the source of the 70% number in healthcare?

    I’ve heard hospital CEOs and other healthcare quality experts say we are wasting approximately 33% of our healthcare spending — money spent that provides no value to patients (poor quality, inefficiency, doing inappropriate testing, etc.).

  2. Larry Pope says:

    As quality professionals we have to take a two pronged approach. First be more vocal with our management teams to show the true value of quality. Secondly, educate workers on the benefits of quality.

    For management, we need to bring the conversation to the bottom line. One metric that would be interesting management is the cost of quality. What is the cost of a deviation to the company? There are a lot of elements to that cost. Many are sunkened costs but still they are cost to the company.

    Let’s take a simple deviation where someone failed to follow a procedure. Assuming an employee pay rate of $50/hour (including benefits).

    Rejected/Scraped Product: $ 0.00
    Investigation Costs : $ 400.00 (8 hours)
    CAPA Costs : $ 400.00 (8 hours)
    Training Costs : $ 200.00 (10 hours)
    Total $ 1000.00

    Assume that you have one such incident per month, the cost to the company would be $12,000. If these costs are tracked and effective implementation of CAPA, management would see a benefit of quality.

    For the workforce, we need show how their daily tasks influence the quality of the product. This has been a emphasis that the FDA has placed on Pharmaceutical companies. The FDA doesn’t want to see continuing training on the regulations. They want to see that you are relating the regulations to an employee’s specific job function. I have personally seen the “light on” when I trained to this level.

  3. jkolker says:

    Hi Mark. Paul believes this number came from a National Institute of Health publication called “Crossing the Chasm.”

  4. I play, teach, research and implement in the medical laboratory Quality arena, and am intrigued by the 70% CPQ. In my own studies based on analysis of reported errors, the average medical laboratory error requires about 130 minutes to address, with a simple labeling error requiring about 30 minutes and a more complex testing error requiring up to 1000 minutes. In a small medical laboratory, perhaps in a small town, this can up to near 30 percent of staff time being focused on error correction. In a very large laboratory it is much closer to 11 percent. I think these are concerning amounts, but with focus and attention, improvement is certainly achievable.
    Also to the point, the US Malcolm Baldrige Award Program has identified health care institutes representing now the single most successful group in achieving success.
    So while I am always interested in Paul’s thoughts and comments, at the same time I suspect the 70% number is at best anecdotal and not even close to evidence-based, and I therefore reject Paul’s assertion out of hand.

    Please visit Making Medial Lab
    Quality Relevant at: http://www.medicallaboratoryquality.com/2012/11/world-quality-month-right-boat-but.html

  5. All such estimates about “waste” in healthcare are personal opinions. “Crossing the Quality Chasm” is not the source. The number somewhat depends on how you define waste. For many academics, “waste” is healthcare I don’t think you should be getting.
    No one is willing to talk about waste in the traditional process management sense. Most articles about cost of healthcare are really about the cost of healthcare insurance. No one is willing to address the costs of the actual processes of delivering healthcare.

  6. Roberto says:

    Let’s us focus on what really is important…, we, specialist on Quality, have a QUALITY MONTH…, on its third year…
    and its support will continue to grow…., from companies to government…, I see a future where everyone is involve in Quality.

    There is no other way to go.
    Regards,
    Roberto

  7. Moin Khan says:

    I would like to suggest that Quality should be linked with Environment, it should also be expressed in terms of Carbon footprint and water footprint. One may call it as wastes also.

  8. John Hunter says:

    How to measure the waste in the USA healthcare system is not an easy question. There is direct waste – cost of unnecessary test. There is damage due to the system – people not getting treatment they should and then damage being done (unable to work…). There are inflated prices due to market restrictions (inflated drug prices in the USA versus anywhere else in the world, monopolistic pricing as health care providers eliminate competition through buyouts…). The system continues to do what seems to me a very poor job at properly restricting the use of antibiotics (including overuse in factory farms) which then creates costly attempts to deal with the portion of antibiotics resistance caused by our actions.

    There are plenty more specific wastes and there are the regular failures that any organizations have…

    It seems to me the evidence is pretty clear that the USA pays over twice as much as other rich countries and outcomes are no better. Those other countries are not doing a fantastic job themselves. So you have waste in those other countries and the USA costs twice as much for the same results. The argument for over 33% waste seems strong to me, 70% seems possible.

    Some of my posts on the health care system, including data:

    http://investing.curiouscatblog.net/tag/health-care/

  9. Pingback: World Quality Month–A Roundup | A View from the Q

  10. In honor of World Quality Month 2012 A View from the Q asks, “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?” The problem is that we have to ask these questions. The Quality arts and sciences began developing into mainstream business practices in the mid to late 20th century driven by the teachings of Drs Juran and Deming and supported by other Quality gurus including Crosby, Feigenbaum, Taguchi, and others. Now in the 21st century we expect Quality to be a top priority and cultural norm of all organizations. This is not so, as indicated by the two questions asked this month by Paul Borawski. To add a little levity to this discussion, let’s jump ahead to the 23rd century…there is no Quality department on the Starship Enterprise. Why, because by the 23rd century Quality is everyone’s responsibility and all crew members know this. So what needs to be done in the 21st century to jump-start the future… We need to educate our workforce in a manner that will make the concepts stick, make every member of the team believe that Quality is part of their job. We’ve succeeded, to a point, in doing this with safety…nobody wants to go home missing body parts or having sustained an injury on the job so safety is imbedded. Okay, maybe we don’t have the same goal in quality but if we can influency our workforce to adopt quality in a similar manner then we will succeed in waste reduction, improved performance, improved customer satisfaction and the list goes on. To do this our senior leaders must walk the talk, use performance metrics as fluidly as they use financial metrics. We as quality practitioners are regularly told that we must speak the language of senior management (money-speak), I say that Senior Management must speak the language of Quality!

  11. In honor of World Quality Month 2012 A View from the Q asks, “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?” The problem is that we have to ask these questions. The Quality arts and sciences began developing into mainstream business practices in the mid to late 20th century driven by the teachings of Drs Juran and Deming and supported by other Quality gurus including Crosby, Feigenbaum, Taguchi, and others. Now in the 21st century we expect Quality to be a top priority and cultural norm of all organizations. This is not so, as indicated by the two questions asked this month by Paul Borawski. To add a little levity to this discussion, let’s jump ahead to the 23rd century…there is no Quality department on the Starship Enterprise. Why, because by the 23rd century Quality is everyone’s responsibility and all crew members know this. So what needs to be done in the 21st century to jump-start the future… We need to educate our workforce in a manner that will make the concepts stick, make every member of the team believe that Quality is part of their job. We’ve succeeded, to a point, in doing this with safety…nobody wants to go home missing body parts or having sustained an injury on the job so safety is imbedded. Okay, maybe we don’t have the same goal in quality but if we can influency our workforce to adopt quality in a similar manner then we will succeed in waste reduction, improved performance, improved customer satisfaction and the list goes on. To do this our senior leaders must walk the talk, use performance metrics as fluidly as they use financial metrics. We as quality practitioners are regularly told that we must speak the language of senior management (money-speak), I say that Senior Management must speak the language of Quality!

  12. World Quality Month is an annual celebration of the world’s commitment to quality tools, techniques and continuous improvement systems. Now in its third year, the celebration provides a platform for acknowledging the accomplishments of people and organizations making advancements and valuable quality contributions in businesses, communities and institutions worldwide.