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Embedding a Culture of Quality Into the Organisation


Hello everyone,

I am in the process of figuring out how to embed a culture of quality in the organisation that I work and did not want to reinvent the wheel, so here I am throwing this out there to see what experiences those who have done similar work, have had.

The organisation that I work in is a service type that is engaged in providing Engineering technical consultancy within the automotive sector. We have successfully transitioned to ISO 9 & 14k and are working to transition to ISO45001, ahead of the 3 year window. So the culture of quality is part of a continual improvement programme.




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Top down: upper management has to endorse, support, drive, recognize quality. If they don't, there will be conflicting priorities and quality typically loses.

Bottom up: get the folks involved. They own the processes and have the best insight into issues and improvement.

Sidney Vianna

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I am in the process of figuring out how to embed a culture of quality in the organisation that I work and did not want to reinvent the wheel, .
It's easy :p

The business processes have to be engineered in a way that the necessary operational checks and balances, needed to maximize the chances of customer getting what they want, when they need it, at the agreed upon pricing, are performed and effective.

What you don't want to have is a policing-mind-set quality department that operates to the side of the business processes. Quality has to be built-in as a normal expectation of running the business processes. As long as quality is misperceived as the responsibility of a department, it will always be resisted against as a non-value added function.

Good luck.
Number 1 is Top Down. In fact, that's so number 1, that if you don't have it, the rest of it isn't going to matter. If the guy in the corner doesn't believe in the program (whatever it is) it will not work. (Part of the reason they have shifted focus in the new IATF standards to look straight at plant managers - this is a good thing). If a new policy from the corner offices come out, and you're overhearing things on the floor like "here's the flavor of the month ..." you have a serious management problem in your facility.

Let's assume that you have the right management and press on.

The best way I have seen new quality processes succeed is: They must be drawn from the shop floor.

Details - you want to hold a kaizen event (or similar) and get a good representation - especially from people on the floor. And you want to pick the people whom the other people listen to. Then, you want to plant seeds, and somewhat steer the narrative of the solutions this team generates. You may not get exactly what you envisioned, but if you do this right, odds are you will get something better because you HAVE involved people on the floor. They aren't stupid and have different views that are often insightful. But the key point is - draw your framework from them. If it's THEIRS, they are much more likely to adopt it and more importantly, keep it. Last - a reward system helps too. You'd be surprised at the good will you engender from throwing an occasional pizza party or showing up with donuts.
...What you don't want to have is a policing-mind-set quality department that operates to the side of the business processes...
The challenge here is that, in practice, a certain amount of "policing" is necessary. We can use euphemisms such as "surveillance" or "monitoring", but ultimately there has to be a mechanism built into the system whereby any deviations from procedure or policies is detected and corrected. The key, IMHO, is balance and communication. You don't want an overtly authoritarian "policing-mind-set", but at the same time you still need to communicate the importance of conforming to established practices, and the fact the personnel's activities are likely to be monitored/audited at some point.

Sidney Vianna

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I don't want to get on a philosophical debate, but any organization that does not promote self-policing, self-verification and ownership of process performance is doomed. Back in the day, when manufacturing companies had an army of QC inspectors and the operators thought their job was to produce as many products as possible and let "quality" sort good from bad, we had atrocious quality performance, not mentioning terrible financial results.

Quality has to have a component of professional pride and personal strive for doing it right. If the corporate culture does not promote employee ownership and accountability, one can (external) "police" ad infinitum, and, still, in my experience, will have terrible "quality". Especially, as in the case of the OP, where he works for a service organization. Anyone who works with "technical engineering advisory" services know how difficult it is to police a service line as complex as that.

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