Quality Journeys

You don't have to go far in the literature to come across the notion of quality as a journey. It's a metaphor that has acquired cliché status, used so often because it is such an apt way to describe the ins and outs--and the ups and downs--of implementing a quality program.

I recently had the opportunity to take a real-life quality journey, traveling to São Paulo, Brazil, to attend a conference on the future of quality sponsored by Editora Banas, the publisher of a Portuguese language magazine called Banas Qualidade.

Brazil has a well-deserved reputation for vibrancy and energy, and so it should come as no surprise that there is a tremendous amount of creativity and excitement in that country's quality profession.

Thanks to my hosts at Banas, I was able to visit several sites where quality tools are making a big difference. These included the Siemens Information and Communication Division, which received Brazil's national quality award in 1998; the Albert Einstein Jewish Hospital, which won ISO 9002 certification in 1996 for its pathology lab; and the Commodities and Futures Exchange, which has used the ISO 9002 certification of its clearinghouse operations to help convince foreign investors that it can handle the turmoil that has beset the Brazilian economy in recent years.

One of the best parts of taking an overseas trip is that it helps to change your perspective. You can't help but come home with new ways of thinking about some of the issues and problems that you left temporarily behind.

I invite you to take another kind of quality journey by reading Mark Hagen's cover feature on Gerber Products Co. Gerber has the distinction of being the longest-term sustaining member of the American Society for Quality, and its quality journey has extended across time rather than geography.

Like the Gerber baby itself, quality programs at Gerber have evolved over the years. What has stayed the same has been a focus on making sure that parents view Gerber as a symbol of trust and an emblem of excellence.

This commitment to quality has served Gerber well. Today it enjoys one of the strongest brand reputations in the world as well as the financial success that comes with a commanding share of the market.

The cash value of quality isn't always so apparent, particularly to the top echelon of an organization. Perhaps the Gerber story  will help change this perspective, so that more senior executives will see the value of a well-defined and well-executed quality strategy. 

26073PG6 MAGUIRE, M. tiff
  Miles Maguire

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