August Roundtable: Integrating Technical Quality and Human Management Systems

Every month, ASQ selects a quality-themed topic or question for Influential Voices bloggers to discuss as part of a round table.

This month ASQ has asked the Influential Voices on quality management to look at the question of integrating technical quality and human management systems. How do different systems—technical or human—work together? How should they work together? What prevents them from working—or helps them work well?

If you’re interested in taking part in future roundtables, please contact social@asq.org.

John Hunter has a background in online quality information management. He has developed quality improvement methods and software at the quality management office of the Secretary of Defense and the White House Military Office. He blogs at Curious Cat Management Blog.

Olga Karpova is a Service Quality Coordinator at Halliburton. She has a keen eye for detail and has considerable experience developing quality processes and improvements. She works tirelessly providing internal support for products, processes and services. Olga is a Quality Expert in API standards and her specialization is in Petroleum Industry.To read more from Olga, visit her Linkedin.

How Do Different Systems Technical or Human—Work Together?

John Hunter:

My view is that the management system must integrate these facets together. A common problem that companies face is that they bring in technical tools (such as control chartsPDSA improvement cycledesign of experimentskanban, etc.) without an appreciation for the organization as a system. Part of understanding the organization as a system is understanding psychology within this context.

To try and implement quality tools without addressing the systemic barriers (due to the management system and specifically the human component of that system) is a path to very limited success.

Olga Karpova:

Russian economics in globalization is characterized complication of correlation between supply and demand, product quality growth and organization competitiveness in a constantly changing environment.

Recently the question of integrated management systems’ implantation is becoming essential for Russian companies which are facing serious competition from Western and some Russian companies what confirmed their achievements in quality, environmental and process safety management by certification.

How Should the Different Systems Work Together?

John Hunter:

It is critical to create an integrated system that focuses on letting people use their brains to continually improve the organization. This process doesn’t lend itself to easy recipes for success. It requires thoughtful application of good management improvement ideas based on the current capabilities of the organization and the short, medium and long term priorities the organization is willing to commit to.

An integrated management system with an appreciation for the importance of people centered management is the only way to get the true benefit of the technical tools available.

Olga Karpova:

Currently quality plays an important role in production of goods as well as providing service. Based on research of Russian and foreign marketing specialists for present situation there is a stable trend towards increase in non-price forms of competitiveness, especially in quality.

Now it is becoming clear that in order to overcome the global economic and financial economic crisis in Russia it is needed to provide domestic product’s growth. Today to survive in competitive market Russian producers shall improve product quality significantly and meet customer expectations. To make it done it is needed to develop a system to ensure high quality of domestic products and its competitiveness.

What Prevents These Systems From Working Together?

John Hunter:

If the organization rewards those in one silo (say purchasing) based on savings they make in cutting the cost of supplies it will be very difficult for the organization to optimize the system as a whole. If the purchasing department gets bonuses and promotions by cutting costs that is where they will focus and the total costs to the organization are not going to be their focus. Attempts to create ever more complex extrinsic incentives to make sure the incentives don’t leave to sub-optimization are rarely effective. They can avoid the most obvious sub-optimization but rarely lead to anything close to actually optimizing the overall system.

Olga Karpova:

In Russian Federation organizations implement integrated management systems achieving different results both positive and negative. A lot of managers still think that management systems are more bureaucratic work than modern marketing tool needed to achieve success in business. There are several causes for this – internal (prevalence of dictatorial style of management, inadequate considerations of the staff role, unavailability of motivation systems, etc.) and external ones.

Thus, the question of a wide dissemination of modern management principles, implementation of management systems by Russian companies acquires another facet.  It becomes a matter of business success, as management practice repeatedly proved the validity of famous statement by Bill Fromm: “Successful business cannot be aimed at obtaining profits; profits should be the result of successful business management”.