The Ps and Qs of the new General Motors

Hello, readers and ASQ Influential Voices. This is Laurel Nelson-Rowe, ASQ Managing Director. This month, I’m guest blogging on View From the Q. (Paul Borawski will be back in October with a preview of World Quality Month.)

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to get an up-close look at GM’s quality culture during a trip to the GM Tech Center in Warren, Michigan. There’s been a lot written lately about the “New GM,” even to “Report Cards” on its performance in Fortune Magazine, and reports in ASQ’s Quality Progress. A highlight to the visit was a conversation with Terry Woychowski, GM’s new vice president of global quality and launch. He talked a lot about performance—one of the three “Ps” of GM’s emerging quality culture. At GM, Terry says, quality is “promise, personal, and performance”–quite clear and concise for GM, an ASQ Enterprise Quality Roundtable member.

I invite you to watch clips from our conversation, below, and to reflect on the following:

Terry, a GM veteran, says the GM promise starts with quality—“that the product will do everything we said it would do.” He wants customers and employees to hold GM to that promise, for every product, every service, in the every segment and every market, where the GM brand plays. He’s on the phone, on video, on the Internet, and in the field with constant reminders to GM employees everywhere of their individual, personal responsibility for quality—that quality needs to be part of their personal, and their organization, character. “There can be no spectators when it comes to quality,” Terry emphasizes.

I was particularly struck by Terry’s comment that GM’s 2009 bankruptcy, though difficult and painful, “clarified as never before the GM mission: GM will design, build and sell the world’s best vehicles.” I say that’s another essential “P:” Pointing everyone in GM, around the globe, in the same direction.

Do you think companies must sometimes (often? regularly?) undergo radical organizational change or substantial economic shifts to get back to the rigorous quality systems? To rededicate individuals and corporate cultures to performance excellence? What lessons must we learn, and how many times must we re-learn these lessons, to make quality a constant priority?

(By the way, that’s a soon-to-be-released Chevy Sonic in the background.)

GM Culture of Quality—Promise, Personal, Performance

Working on Quality “Cradle to Grave”

Making Quality a Top Priority

The Story of Chevy Volt

Global Standards

Quality Surprises

Predicting Future Quality Headlines