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What would it be worth to improve you business by 5%, 10% or even 25%? What if you could do so while improving the Quality of your products or services at the same time? You can! The process is called Qualnamics.
Here is the introduction chapter to my new book titled:
Unleash Quality
Build a Winning Strategy for a Culture of Quality that will Unleash Your Growth and Profit Potential
by
Arron Angle

Introduction

This is not your typical book about Quality. If you think that Quality is just for manufacturing or service, think again. This is about survival of the fittest in a highly competitive business world. That world has changed dramatically in the last twenty five years from manual labor with little automation to highly automated, digitally controlled processes while moving toward a future of autonomous provision of goods and services. Private and small businesses have also gone through an evolution. Software, computing and the way we manage the flow of goods and services as well as the interface with customers have changed the way we conduct business. The need for Quality and the power it can bring to any business is more important today than ever.

As we march toward the future, what likely won’t become automated is the presence and influence of management. This is where the future of Quality is at stake. Some companies will understand this and embrace Quality as a cultural necessity. Unfortunately many companies, large and small have not come to the realization of what a culture of Quality can do for them. What about you? Do you recognize that Quality must be embraced by every department in your company? If not, this book will help you learn how to set-up, organize and unleash Quality in our digital world to let it work for you in ways that you have likely not thought of before.

There, I said it! Most books will guide you through the process of Quality Assurance or lead you down the path of Lean Six Sigma for cost reduction focused primarily on manufacturing and service functions. While those are certainly aspects of Quality, they are not the complete picture or set of tools that will uncover the hidden profits that you are missing in other parts of your organization with traditional approaches.

How can Quality bring so much to the table?

For years we have been led to believe that Quality is about assuring that Quality functions are in place and controlling process output through inspection and cost reduction and improvement initiatives. The purpose was to reduce errors. These traditional approaches have channeled our thinking and actions to focus primarily on manufacturing and service functions. Naturally, we believe that this is where the largest impact to our profits occur and thus the largest opportunity areas for cost avoidance and cost reduction. Not too far off the mark, but what about before all this manufacturing output starts, back in the bid and proposal stages prior to design of the product or service? What about design engineering, product costing, financial control, product/program management, marketing, sales, accounting and more? More specific, if you are not getting Quality correct from the beginning and maintaining it in all these non-manufacturing areas, you are leaving behind unrealized opportunity cost and profit that will fail to optimize your bottom line financial performance. 

Why should I read this book?

What if you run a restaurant chain or have a medical practice, this approach sounds like a manufacturing book. What’s in it for me? My answer is that Quality is Quality, no matter what line of work you are in. If you’re not in the manufacturing business, then please read this book with the knowledge that manufacturing is a very broad term which essentially means the integration of processes that build upon one another to reach an end result output deliverable. That deliverable could be a tool, service, medical examination, delivery of a properly cooked meal to a customer, or much more. So when you read, consider my use of the word manufacturing in the context of delivering the service or product you provide to your clients and customers. Again, that product or service could be selling automobiles, packing and moving a family’s belongings from point “A” to point “B”, building a skyscraper or owning and serving meals in a restaurant. Quality is Quality no matter what your line of business.

Do I have your attention now?

Good, then let’s get on to building a basis of understanding of what Quality is and is not. From there we can show ways to unlock the hidden profits and grow your business. We will discuss everything from strategy, structuring a Quality organization to building behaviors that support the construction of meaningful metrics that drive positive change.

Helpful Hint: While the flow of chapters attempt to build a foundation from “why” to “how,” the content is more important than the flow so please feel free to read in any sequence that fits your specific interest.

And the premise of this book is?

Simply put we want to help company owners, managers, executives, and employees understand how to bring to life or rekindle the behaviors that drive a culture of Quality through Compliance, Prevention and Improvement methodologies that are supported by organizational structure, accountability, strategy, defined objectives, data collection and use and much more. This “trilogy” of behaviors is the key to Behavior Based Quality (BBQ). Belief, support and implementation of BBQ will drive sustainable bottom line results to your business.

Nice words, but what does that mean? I hope to help you understand and appreciate the value, power and the positive impact that Quality and its associated behaviors can have on any business. For larger companies, the establishment of an organizational structure supporting a Behavior Based Quality culture can bring about profound positive results to your financial bottom line when practiced and supported from the top executive down to the employee level in each department.

To be clear, this book is not about Quality Management Systems (QMS) which is the process of implementing or maintaining compliance to international standards that your company has or may need to adopt in order to attract or maintain customers. There is plenty of reading material from American Society of Quality (ASQ) body of knowledge or the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and other organizations that define the requirements of QMS. You may have a department in your organization that deals specifically with compliance to QMS. Fine, let that department worry about implementation and compliance in that context.

Compliance is pretty well understood from the perspective of building the processes that meet international standards, but by itself it does not generate the structure nor behaviors of a learning organization that is constantly in motion to achieve growth and profitability.

Therefore, this book proposes to educate you about the other foundational tenants of Quality behaviors that will allow you to lead and build your company culture to a level that adds to compliance, the actions of prevention and improvement as the three foundational tenants of your Quality culture. Thus, out of what I consider the three foundational tenants of Quality (Compliance, Prevention and Improvement), I will be referring to them often in this book as CPI. We are going to focus on the things that bring about prevention and improvement. To have a culture of Quality you will need commitment to all three principles.

Why do Quality issues keep reoccurring?

Have you ever wondered why Quality keeps coming up as a topic of discussion in Senior Staff meetings or even in the boardroom? You may be thinking that things just happen. Thus, it would only be natural that the topic comes up where things have slipped through the crack and problems occur. But we have a Quality department, you say, so why are they not fixing this? Why are they allowing this to happen? Why can’t they stop it? We have put fixes in place for past problems of non-conformance, why are the errors recurring?

The answer to these questions comes from observation from my years in various senior management positions and as a consultant to numerous startup and existing companies.

The first observation is based upon seeing the frequency and severity of recurring issues that have not had sustainable solutions implemented in the first place. In other words the rush to fix and move on overshadowed the discovery of an actual solution to the cause.  This book will lead you to the process of defining, measuring and implementing sustainable solutions to process issues.

My second observation is that many companies do not adequately understand the power of Quality, or believe they need to assess the existence or health of the culture of Quality in their company. If their solution to issues are reactionary with actions that drive for a quick fix then they move on (noted above), they likely do not have a culture of sustainable Quality. Moreover, with this approach, I would suggest that the behaviors surrounding Quality practices are not intrinsic to the values they or their employees impart to their daily work activities. Tough words, but now that I have mentioned behavior, please don’t think that this book is going to launch into a long philosophical narrative about the psychology of behaviors. As we progress through this book we will provide rational as to how a culture of Behavior Based Quality (BBQ) and use of Quality tools will bring about sustainable long term results. A culture of BBQ is one that embraces CPI as the core of Quality behaviors.

A Third observation seems more prevalent than it should be. Specifically, there is likely no strategy for Quality. I’m not talking about just within a department that is named Quality, but an actual plan to implement, improve and sustain Quality practices and behaviors throughout a company. This often is an organizational issue of structure, accountability for results and placement of the Quality department within the hierarchy of the company that may render it impotent to drive sustainable change to the bottom line financials. Defining a strategy for Quality is no different than planning for the growth of a company. I would propose that growth requires a Quality product or service, therefore the obvious question should be why a company wouldn’t have a strategy for Quality as well. We will address this important aspect in Chapter 6.

Where are you on your Quality journey?

If you are still wondering, the journey is not so much about whether you believe in Quality (who wouldn’t) but whether you support and promote a Behavior Based Quality culture. So here lies the conundrum of defining Quality. After all, how can you support and promote Quality if you don’t know what it is? The old school belief of Quality is focused around the aspect of “control” as achieved through inspection. Newer thinking, of course, has moved to Lean/Six Sigma methodologies to improve Quality performance. These are outstanding tools that may reduce a product’s cycle time by some percentage and may eliminate material cost through redesign or better sourcing, but if the process is still operating with a 10% reject rate, the cost of defects (Quality) has not improved at all. You are just making product faster and cheaper without preventing the causes of the defects. This is not improving Quality.

When you started your Quality journey did you think that Quality only applies to manufacturing processes or have you progressed to believe that Quality is a part of every aspect of a company's activity from finance to sales and marketing and all points in between? Regardless of where you are in your journey, you should ask yourself whether your actions are creating sustainable improvement. If you are not seeing sustainable improved performance from your corrective actions, perhaps you are not measuring the right things or the actions being taken are not addressing the point where poor Quality is actually being generated, the root cause of the issue. It's time to think outside the box. Your first step should be to understand output requirements and determine the right things to measure that identify the total impact of poor quality so that you can focus your energy in the proper area needing improvement. More on this as we progress through the book.

Why is management singled out?

Since we are setting the introduction to Behavior Based Quality, for the record, let’s consider company executives, top or senior management as those who have Profit and Loss (P&L) responsibility for a company, division, site, product line, manufacturing, or service function; in other words, the top decision makers, where the “buck stops”; the guys or gals in charge of building a business and making money for themselves, partners or shareholders.
You may have read that Quality may be without tears from Philip Crosby’s book “Quality Without Tears,” but it can come with a lot of pain when it is not managed well or is absent from the company culture or the executives’ radar. Clearly there is an order to things and a chain of command for decision making and goal setting. Regardless of what management position you hold you likely report to higher level of accountability in the company hierarchy. Unless you are at the top (i.e. an owner), you are taking direction from above. Even a CEO often reports to an owner or a board of directors. While board members provide guidance and approval for major decisions, they seldom interact with managers or employees nor set the pace of the company other than by approving the hire of the CEO who is usually charged with returning shareholder value; not wrong by the way. By their direction, and the actions of the CEO/President, the pace and beat of the culture drum is set at the top. That rhythm, however, is either suppressed or amplified as you get lower into the organization.  This is the impact that leadership behaviors have on the culture and momentum of the company. For those readers not at the executive level, please read on as one day you may be in that position and can refer back to what you have gained from this book to set the correct pace of your organization. Let me amplify this last statement: The book is intended to give the executive an overview of the broad aspects of Quality beyond the traditional concepts of Quality Control and Assurance. With this knowledge s/he would have a better understanding of the benefits to initiate a cultural change to Behavior Based Quality or be more willing to support their Quality professionals or other managers when they seek such a cultural change.

Note, this is one of the reasons for each chapter’s preface and take away summaries as executives often don’t want to spend time reading detail. Like an executive brief, this approach provides a summary and an opportunity to dive deeper if there is interest in the subject. Meanwhile, the middle manager, directors and vice presidents from any department who read this book have more detail in the chapter’s content to help them understand more thoroughly the aspects of CPI, organizational matters, meaningful metrics and much more. The reason for this is that they will become the future executives and it is imperative for them to understand the details in order to implement, support and maintain a culture of BBQ as they grow in their careers.

Is this book just for Manufacturing and Service readers?

The answer is no as stated earlier in this chapter, there is something in this book that is for any person in any line of work or position. You may be thinking, I run a restaurant chain or have a medical practice, why should I read further? The answer is that Quality is Quality, no matter what line of work you are in.

Helpful Hint: As you read, consider my use of the word manufacturing in the context of delivering the service or product you provide to your clients and customers.

Manufacturing is a very broad term which essentially means the integration of processes that build upon one another to reach an end result of a deliverable output. The deliverable output that you provide from your business, could be a tool, service, medical examination, delivery of a properly cooked meal to a customer, or much more. Delivering a properly cooked meal or a medical exam is no less important from a Quality perspective than manufacturing an I-phone or a dishwasher, so please look for the point of the examples or anecdotes provided here in and see if you can relate it to your business.

Take away for this chapter: There are a few businesses in the world who have come to the realization that a Behavior Based Quality culture brings positive results to the financial bottom line of their company. We can probably count the big ones on our hands and toes. Why not more? I believe it is because we talk the talk but do not walk the walk of management commitment to a behavior based culture of Quality. It definitely is not easy. It takes courage, stamina, patience and belief that sustainable results are only achieved through commitment and support from the leaders of the company to socialize and commit to Quality as a business imperative. I hope to guide you through the path of success as you read further in this book.

I hope that this introduction to my book, "Unleash Quality" stimulates your curiosity to read more about how unleashing quality can bring dramatic results to your financial bottom line. The book will be available starting in March 2019 through American Society of Quality (ASQ) website, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Unleash Quality© by Arron Angle 2016-2019 All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without express permission in writing from the author.

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