ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - February 2001


Issue Highlight — Back To The End Of The Line
- Peter Block explores why the customer has become less important and what this means for those who care about employee development and organizational change.

 In This Issue...
Quality At Lightning Speed
My Hero!
Two Heads Are Better Than One
Leader Of The Pack

Peter Block Column
Views for a Change
Heard on the Street

Return to NFC Index

Views For A Change

                              ne From Column B                                             

Consultant Q&A

H. James Harrington Responds:

You make a good point; quality begins with a small group. Certainly, the most important small group is the family. The most important part of an individual’s quality development occurs by age 8, not 18 or older when they enter the workforce. You need to start reading books designed to give a quality message to your children at age 3. A typical example of this type of book is the one I wrote entitled, “Harrington’s Mouse Story,” published by the American Society for Quality.

  There have been a number of excellent articles published by others and myself about applying quality principles to the family. If we start using the family team to make family decisions, have regular formal meetings to discuss problems, develop action plans, respect the thoughts of every family member, use control charts to plot grades in school and develop buy-in to the family vision and goals, your chances of having a happy and successful family are much greater. I believe the reason we have such a high divorce rate (I’ve seen projections that 70 percent of the marriages that occurred in 1999 will end in divorce) is that the quality of family life is so low. Just think how good it would be if we had job descriptions for each member of the family.

  Quality in clubs and societies presents another challenge even if people are introduced to quality in the family small group. The problems that clubs and societies have are that most people join them to be served, not to contribute. The nice thing about clubs and societies is you can get as much out of them as you are willing to put into them. For the last 40 years, I have been in a leadership role in one or another society. In each case, I got the most from a society when I was actively involved. It doesn’t have to be at the national level. It can be as conference chairperson, secretary or treasurer of a local section. The quality problem in societies is not poor society quality but poor membership quality. No one should join a club or society unless they want to be involved. They should be willing to serve on committees, or even better, take an active leadership role. Paying your dues indicates that you agree with their mission. It is like giving to the Red Cross or to The Organization to Feed Starving Children. You may get a pamphlet or a magazine, but it doesn’t mean that you’re going to directly benefit from the organization’s activities unless you take an active role.

  You are right! Small groups, clubs and societies need organizational structure, missions, visions, goals and objectives. But it is not the words that keep it from happening. Individuals that make up these groups know what the words mean and most of them apply quality techniques in their business. The problem is they don’t apply them to their family, club and society. When you get married, you form a union that has a mission of “Providing a lifelong cooperation between two individuals where they will work together to grow the union to better the life of both parties.” Most clubs and societies have a mission statement when they are established. Your parent teacher organization’s mission is to “Provide assurance that the children get the very best education possible.” But less than 40 percent of the parents that are members go to meetings and less than 10 percent do anything to improve their children’s education at home or school. You see, it isn’t the words that improve the quality of small groups, clubs or societies; it is the deeds of its members. Should large clubs and societies have a quality system? Sure, ISO 9000 was made for that.

  My challenge to all of you is to list the small groups, clubs and societies you are members of and then list what you did to further the mission for each of these groups during the last six months. As one great man once said, “Ask not what the club or society can do for you, but what you can do for it.”

H. JAMES HARRINGTON has written seven books including the best-selling "The Improvement Process," "Business Process Improvement," and "Total Improvement Management: The Next Generation in Performance Management." Harrington is the CEO of The Performance Improvement Network in Los Gatos, Calif. He is considered a leading authority in process management.

Vincent Ventresca Responds

Question for Consultants

February 2001 News for a Change Homepage

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