Is Quality Everyone’s Job?
If you read the article on p. 60 without first reading the headline, author’s name or summary, no one would blame you for thinking this is fresh advice. It isn’t. Philip B. Crosby penned the words nearly 27 years ago as part of his classic book Quality Is Free. Yet his steps for getting all employees involved in quality improvement are still helpful today.
Crosby and many others before and after him have preached that for quality to take hold and drive an organization toward excellence, it must become everyone’s job. Has that vision come any closer to reality?
Perhaps the annual QP salary survey provides some answers, starting on p. 23 and continuing online at www.asq.org. For example, in section 14 (online), most respondents reported the number of employees in their organizations’ quality departments has increased or stayed the same over the past 12 months. Only about 20% said their departments have decreased in size.
On the other hand, 15.5% of respondents said they are not members of their organizations’ quality departments. Looking back to the 1995 survey, the first time this question was asked, that percentage was nearly 21%; in 2000, just under 10% of respondents said they did not work in the quality department.
In 1995, 83% of respondents reported their organizations had a separate quality department, while 16% didn’t. By 2000, the percentage of respondents saying quality was integrated into line operations—in other words, it was everyone’s job—had dropped to just below 11.
The survey no longer asks about the setup of the quality function, but it does still ask about the extent of quality responsibilities for respondents and others (see section 15 online). Not surprisingly, 67% of the 2005 U.S. respondents said 75.1% to 100% of their job duties are quality related. What may be surprising is the 67% represents a big jump: In 2000, an average of only 43% of respondents reported all or almost all of their jobs included quality related duties. In 1995, that number was just under 52%.
Nearly 60% of this year’s U.S. respondents said they thought from 25.1% to 100% of people in their organizations are expected to help improve quality. That number has definitely declined. In 2000, more than 89% of respondents said they thought other employees had at least some quality responsibilities.
So in 2005, quality departments may be growing or at least stabilizing, and their members are more responsible for quality while other employees may be less responsible for it. Only time will tell if these are true shifts that will continue.
One dimension may be missing. In answer to a question that appeared in the salary survey in the early 1990s—“Does your organization make full use of your abilities?”—at least 50% of respondents said no. How would you answer today?