The Quality Auditor: Helping Beans Take Root

Article

Hunt, John R.   (1997, ASQ)   NCS Corporation, Columbus, OH

Quality Progress    Vol. 30    No. 12
QICID: 13179    December 1997    pp. 27-33
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Article Abstract

Awareness of corporate culture enables the quality auditor to go beyond bean counting and become an agent of cultural change. This broader view of quality auditing fits well with the TQM (total quality management) view that behavioral factors are important elements in achieving quality. The auditor who accepts this broad role is like the anthropologist who studies the culture and organization of a society. Just as the cultural anthropologist becomes a participant observer within a society, the auditor -- especially the first-party, internal auditor -- assists management in the identification of root causes. The auditor then can be both a detached observer and a facilitator who understands the organization from the point of view of its own culture. Other links between quality auditing and anthropology include the audit report and its anthropological counterpart, the ethnographic narrative. Both documents require care in language and style that respect standard terminology and the special qualities of the given culture. Another document, the audit checklist, is vital for the structure it adds to the audit, and yet the auditor should not ignore cultural factors never found on a checklist. Beyond the traditional checklist, the auditor should be aware of items like: plant layout, employee conversations, rumor, housekeeping practices, bulletin board postings, and employee identification with the organization. This article includes a case study of a audit that brought more cooperation and communication to a corporate culture.

Keywords

Audits,Audit checklist,Case study,Cultural change,Quality audit,Reports,Total Quality Management (TQM)


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