In response to "Building Assurance" (January 2017: pp. 37-43): This article is a good example of applying quality management principles on a construction project—up front and early—to deliver improved quality outputs and cost savings on a project. It’s all about "doing it right the first time" with pride in commitment and workmanship.
Playing Three Roles
In response to "Expert Answers: Combating quality resistance" (January 2017, pp. 8-9): I cannot express strongly enough how much I disagree with the advice given. It is important that the quality professional understands the importance of his or her role at three levels:
- Upholding the reputation of the organization.
- Ensuring that all internal standards, external regulations and contractual requirements are fully met.
- Acting as the ultimate customer’s representative (this could be me), and speak up when I cannot do it for myself.
There are three legitimate categories of actors in any transaction: creators, complementors (for example, regulators) and consumers.
The response focused too much on just one—the creators—and on what leaders in the organization dictate. It misses out on the legitimate roles of regulators and ultimate customers. The quality professional must represent all three, and if there is a conflict, the organization comes last.
To avoid resistance, quality professionals must be constantly educating the organization on these vital roles.
The Reaction Gauge
This Month’s Question
Chipotle Mexican Grill, the fast-food chain hit by a series of foodborne illness scares and multiple lawsuits in late 2015, recently announced plans to install breakthrough technology in its 2,200 eateries that will take pathogen sources out of the air, off surfaces and out of ice before food comes into contact with any of those three potential contamination sources.
How will technology like this influence and address food safety in the next five years?
Last Month’s Question
A former employee blamed Samsung’s top-down culture for its battery crisis and said juniors were expected to never refuse requests from superiors. What effect can a culture that’s intolerant of dissent have on quality?
Allen Scott, New Bern, NC, says:
A culture that’s intolerant of dissent is a culture of fear, and it creates massive losses that cannot be measured. In this environment, workers must go along with what their bosses want and never take opposing positions. If employees work in fear, they shut up and cannot contribute to their organization’s quality efforts. These types of organizations, therefore, emphasize numbers—not quality.
Samsung said it will get to the bottom of its phone issues. This is still the wrong approach because it’s managing outcomes (effects), not working on processes (causes). Samsung is too late, and it must work upstream. The organization appears to have no understanding of cause and effect.
Al Smith, Richburg, NY, writes:
When any organization attempts to make mute dissent a standard practice, the outcome often results in a barrier to actual progress. Change seldom happens until the status quo is challenged. I would also note that media covering quality and quality organizations are not exempt from having this intolerance of dissent as a cultural attribute.