The Misrepresentation of Quality

I fell in love in 2009, and it was unlike any other time I’ve ever fallen in love before or after that. He wasn’t tall and he wasn’t handsome and he didn’t have sparkling blue eyes or a strong jaw line… in fact it wasn’t even a ‘he’. See, I feel in love with Quality.

The idea, the concept of Quality. When designed properly, Quality makes things better. What’s more, Quality is not only Compliance, and Compliance is certainly not necessarily Quality at all.

Compliance means we all dance in the same line (or to the same tune), ticking a checklist to meet a regulatory standard, such as cGMP. But there are several other standards available depending on any company’s need. ISO 9001, SANNAS or ISO 17025 (Laboratories), ISO 14001 (Environment Management Systems) or OSHAS 18001 (Occupational Health and Safety) – the list goes on and on and on. A different flavour for every different preference – For every industry and every workplace there is a standard or set of regulations that apply. We don’t give thought to our customer requirements. I mean, who needs customers anyway… right?

To my despair in all the places where I have worked in the past, I have observed organisations conform to the Standard for the sake of pure compliance. Quality is just an after-thought, or perhaps just a label consisting of 7 letters, used to brand compliance. Incredibly sad…, incredibly sad indeed.

It’s sad for me because I have bought into the process approach. Process approach can be diagrammatic represented by: INPUT →PROCESS → OUTPUT

I believe that everything, absolutely everything we all do at work (and even home) can be simplified and explained as simple process. Making a cup of coffee is a process – let’s see…

Step 1 – fill the kettle with water

Step 2 – plug kettle in and switch on

Step 3 – take your mug out etc etc etc

The first day I had too much sugar, the second day I realised I could have brushed my teeth in the time the water was boiling. By evaluating process steps, and sticking to the process steps… I slowly improved the process, until by the end of the week I was making best morning cuppa in the shortest period of time – All because I put some thought into it! Mornings are crazy, we just don’t have extra time for anything in the morning. And little quality improvements do not have to be difficult. I systematically approached it and just ensured I followed through with application.

The process approach is just one element of Quality. But it’s in the foundation of a strong Quality Culture. That being said I want to highlight that I could have the most amazing process in place to manufacture life jackets (as an example)…if you have cement as a input, I could not care how good your process is, I certainly wont be buying my life jacket from you!

Ok so enough for now, I’ve just scratched the surface of what I would call Quality Culture…. we’ll explore a little about Compliance next time I blog about Quality Matters

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