Why doesn’t the “Quality Community” get it?

Frankly I am sick and tired of seeing articles and discussions on forums from so-called quality professionals whining that “senior managers” just don’t understand quality. They don’t understand the benefits, it would appear, of ISO 9001. They don’t appreciate the value of the Quality Department and only pay “lip service” to the QMS … and so it goes on

Well whose fault is that?

These simpering laments do nothing other than infuriate me. My question is not “when are senior managers going to appreciate quality?” I’m more interested in finding out when so-called quality professionals are going to make anything more than a half-hearted attempt to understand the dynamics and realities of business, and to truly appreciate the world that the senior team inhabits

“Quality” is a support service. It’s purpose is to support the organisation – sometimes you’d think it was the other way around!

I’ve met hundreds of these “senior managers” and, in my experience at least, there are very few imbeciles. They are generally very capable individuals who are trying to maximise the performance of their organisation and, again in my experience, are generally willing to listen to anyone who has some sound ideas for doing just that. More to the point, they have often learned a thing or two about running a business. So why don’t they “get” quality? … Why indeed

Its not just me who thinks this way, I might add. Philip Crosby famously suggested that Quality Professionals needed to be able to speak the language of the boardroom (dollars) in order to be effective in their job, but thirty-odd years on it would seem that this particular penny is still yet to drop. Fair enough, you do get the occasional MD who takes an interest and learns the lingo, but frankly, why should they be the ones that have to to learn the new language?

Here’s another inconvenient truth while we’re on the subject. Believe it or not, ISO 9001 DOES NOT have the answer to every single business challenge.  Often we find the Quality Department thinks every problem has a “quality solution” – I’ve also found that to be true of other departments, incidentally, HR especially. In truth, of course, myopia is seldom part of the solution, but if the only tool you have in your bag is a hammer, don’t be surprised if every problem looks like a nail …

I suspect this may well prove an unpopular post with many, but sometimes there’s a need for tough love, and right now I’m in the mood to dish it out

It’s not the first time I’ve been down this road either, but my plea  is the same. Come on quality guys, make the effort, and if it doesn’t work, try something else. If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got. There’s a bit of Juran chucked in for good measure

gm ceo rick wagoner

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7 Responses to Why doesn’t the “Quality Community” get it?

  1. Rob says:

    Quality shouldn’t been seen as separate from the way a company does business. For example, a separate “management review” just for quality issues, held annually which presents a backwards look over the year. NO! Get yourself into the board-room and put quality on the agenda at each meeting. As long as quality is seen as something which happens in parallel to the way a business functions then the poor quality manager is doomed!

  2. shaun says:

    Yeah Rob, I agree, but my point is that the poor quality manager would get more respect if he tried to understand the higher level organisational goals (especially the financial ones) and asked the question “what could my department do to make that happen?”

    You must know where I’m coming from on this. Check out any of the LinkedIn discussion threads, or the IRCA Forum and there are countless individuals bleating on about these uncommitted senior managers, yet they also seem to expect these managers to do all the running and come to them after some sort of mysterious epiphany. Given that management is all about trying to make the right choice (given the available options) we also need to be grown up and accept that none of the choices may be completely desirable. In fact there may occasionally be only two choices, “bad” and “worse”. In that situation, the “quality decision” is the former, even given its drawbacks.

    This is one of the realities of management that is not, so far as I can make out, ever acknowledged in any quality education program

  3. shaun says:

    Check out the reaction this got when the CQI re-posted it on their blog


    Maybe I should apologise …..

    …. Naaaah

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  7. Hashik says:

    I totally agree with Rob. I have seen many companies does one MRM for the sake of satisfying the CB auditors.

    I do not really know why they love to maintain two seperate system far from each other.

    Such a wonderful frame work of clause of 5.6.2 & 5.6.3 is seldom understood by the so called Senior Managers….

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