The Fingerprints of a Quality Champion


Kitzke, Kenneth J.   (1988, ASQC)   Quality Dynamics, Delmont, PA

Annual Quality Congress, Dallas TX    Vol. 42    No. 0
QICID: 3461    May 1988    pp. 449-455
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Article Abstract

This paper discusses five basic characteristics of a quality champion. The characteristics were formulated from personal interviews during 1984 and 1985 with quality champions in Japan and America. They are original conclusions based upon observations of actual practice.

The characteristics appear to be the lowest common denominator of every quality champion. To the eyes of an outsider, some characteristics overwhelmed the organization culture, yet were hardly mentioned by quality executives. Looking beneath the surface of the written quality plans, programs and processes, these five characteristics were always present, in one form or another, and captured what a champion does so differently to achieve unmatched quality.

Each characteristic is defined so precisely that a quality champion can be positively identified by answers to five simple organization questions:

  1. Who is responsible for quality?
  2. What are your quality goals?
  3. What is your quality education program?
  4. Who must participate in your quality improvement process?
  5. How do you reward quality achievement?
The answers to these questions are clues which reveal the degree of quality management evolution within an organization. For example, an organization relying on quality control tends to have one set of answers and one relying on quality assurance will have a different set of answers. The best answers, all observed in practice at one or more quality champions, became "The Fingerprints of a Quality Champion," ("Fingerprints.")

The Fingerprints may be considered as a functional specification for a state-of-the-art quality management system capable of producing quality in every aspect of organization performance. The Fingerprints apply to all types of organizations, whether private or public, for profit or non-profit, or a provider of goods or services.

By comparing an organization's characteristics to the Fingerprints, quality executives and consultants can guide top management in making informed decisions on whether and how to modify current quality practices. While some Fingerprints are finding greater acceptance in America, they are more common in Japan. However, few organizations in either country have implemented all five Fingerprints to the degree exemplified by an ideal, composite quality champion.

Organizations which excel in the application of the Fingerprints will be capable of a positive response to the challenge of competition both domestically and in the world marketplace.



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