QUALITY IN THE FIRST PERSON
Quality Attitudes Start in Childhood
by Navin S. Dedhia
My beliefs and behavior have had four major influences: my parents’ teachings, stringent requirements during elementary and middle school years, the basic principles of my religion and IBM’s corporate culture.
My parents always emphasized a code of conduct and ethical behavior. Part of my elementary and middle school education took place in a village in India. Teachers always demanded the correct answers to oral questions. Punishment in the form of standing in the corner of a classroom or being hit on the hand with a ruler was very common for giving a wrong answer.
The same or similar punishment was given for not completing homework or writing a wrong answer. From childhood, we were instilled with the need to pay attention during class and complete all work accurately. Games played during school hours required teamwork and team spirit.
Many of the projects and experimental lab work during school hours had to be done in teams. In my first year of engineering studies in India, we were required to work in a team of eight to 10 students to complete a surveying project. I enjoyed this.
Jain, an ancient religion that originated in India, also strongly influenced my upbringing. Jain taught me to conquer internal enemies that hinder progress toward goals. Jainism also includes a theory of multiplicity of views. All thoughts and views must be considered before making a final judgment or decision. The theory of multiplicity of views is nothing but systems thinking or a global view.
Jainism also taught me to treat everyone equally and love all living beings. Abiding by the religion’s code of conduct, guidelines and ethical principles was always important to me.
When I joined IBM’s East Fishkill facility in New York, the first thing presented during the orientation was IBM’s three basic beliefs:
- Respect for the individual.
- Excellence as a way of life.
- Customer service.
These three basic beliefs were constantly reiterated during management training and were the basis for IBM’s success.
Respect for the individual required you to treat everyone equally, ignoring status differences:
- Anyone could visit anyone’s office without hesitation—the open door policy. No names were released when resolving employee problems or complaints.
- Professional ethics required fair and unbiased treatment in dealing with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.
- A speak-up program encouraged employees to speak their minds without hesitation. Again, you could complain or offer suggestions anonymously. Employees provided suggestions for improvements in operations and were rewarded if their suggestion was adopted.
- Supportive and cheerleading management was preferred over command and control. Respecting other opinions led to success during brainstorming sessions.
IBM’s emphasis on excellence encouraged employees to do tasks to the best of their abilities in the given circumstances. Rather than requiring perfection at the beginning, the focus was on improvement and perfection at the end. This message was for excellence not only in products or services, but also in employees’ work and home lives.
The third belief conveyed the message that everyone was a customer and should be provided the best service all the time. We should go the extra mile to serve all internal or external customers.
Personal practices such as valuing others, being on time for appointments, keeping promises, honoring commitments, completing tasks on time and doing the job right the first time and every time are important components of success. Compromise has been more important to me than persuasion, insistence or winning.
When I moved to IBM in San Jose, CA, I entered the quality field. Learning problem solving, process and yield improvements, and how to write clear instructions helped me transition to quality.
Personal quality principles have guided me in my career at IBM, in my dealings with ASQ members, including those in the International Chapter, and in leadership roles in social and civic organizations. I have grown each year as I have learned more and more.
NAVIN S. DEDHIA is with Hitachi Global Storage Tech-nologies Inc.’s site quality program in San Jose, CA. He earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Tennessee Technological University and an MBA from Golden Gate University, San Francisco. Dedhia is an ASQ Fellow and holds reliability engineer, quality engineer, quality auditor, quality manager and quality systems lead auditor certifications. He is an ASQ national director, recipient of the Lancaster Award, past chair and trustee of the International Chapter and a member of the International Academy for Quality.