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Letter to your CEO on Quality

ccochran

Southern Gentleman
#11
Gentleman,

Thanks for all your feedback. I especially enjoyed Jim Wynne's short version: "We're dying down here. Please stop counting the *$%!& money for a minute and get off your fat arse and help us." That basically sums it up. Quality Digest required around 2,000 words, so that accounts for the overall length. A real letter would have been considerably shorter. Very good point, though. Brevity is the soul of wit, as Polonious said.

Speaking the language of top management is of course critical. The language of top management isn't the only language, though. Their whole lexicon is focused on finance and accounting metrics, which often doesn't provide much guidance for the future. Sure, quality folks need to understand these bottom line results, but top management needs to understand that profit and revenue are the residues of doing a lot of other things well. You can stare at bottom line results for hours and still not know what to do about them. The more forwarding looking metrics (like customer feedback) will tell you exactly what to do about them. So, I guess my point is that we all need to become multilingual. Speaking one language and looking in only direction will guarantee trouble.

Fire away!

Craig
 
#12
In general, I liked and agreed with the points contained in the letter. Reading it DID make me wonder if you were being paid by the word - lots of padding.

There was one segment that made me wonder how it "would play in Peoria"
I've worked for too many organizations where training was considered good to do if time and circumstances allowed. Once we got busy, training was abandoned. "Hey, we've got work to do!" everyone shouted. "Who's got time for training?" Then they wondered why customer complaints skyrocketed. It's simple cause and effect: Neglect training, and people will make mistakes.
My questioning ran along the lines of:
"how many organizations has this guy worked for?"
"is the abandonment of training really that prevalent?"
"who needs to be trained?" (if I have a stable workforce, do I really need to continually train or train only when some change occurs? what about evaluation of training?) For as much as you padded the rest of the essay, I feel you should have been less glib on this aspect and much more descriptive of a "best practice."
 

gard2372

Quite Involved in Discussions
#13
Last edited by a moderator:

Gert Sorensen

Forum Moderator
Moderator
#14
Wes Bucey said:
In general, I liked and agreed with the points contained in the letter. Reading it DID make me wonder if you were being paid by the word - lots of padding.

There was one segment that made me wonder how it "would play in Peoria"
I've worked for too many organizations where training was considered good to do if time and circumstances allowed. Once we got busy, training was abandoned. "Hey, we've got work to do!" everyone shouted. "Who's got time for training?" Then they wondered why customer complaints skyrocketed. It's simple cause and effect: Neglect training, and people will make mistakes.
My questioning ran along the lines of:
"how many organizations has this guy worked for?"
"is the abandonment of training really that prevalent?"
"who needs to be trained?" (if I have a stable workforce, do I really need to continually train or train only when some change occurs? what about evaluation of training?) For as much as you padded the rest of the essay, I feel you should have been less glib on this aspect and much more descriptive of a "best practice."
In my limited experience Cochran is absolutely right. I've seen companys and plants rund down by truly stupid management who didn't think that training was needed. And, yes, IF you have a stable workforce training is not that big an issue, simply because that the total amount of training needed is by default smaller when you only have to train a relatively small amount of new employees a year. However, stupid managers don't create a working environment where people want to work, and therefore the have to hire a lot more employees on a continual basis. I've worked for companies where the turnover on employees were 40+ %. Companies like that don't have the time, or the capacity to train their employees because they have a continual back log of orders due to low production efficiency. :bonk:
 
P

pldey42

#15
ccochran said:
Gentleman,

Thanks for all your feedback. I especially enjoyed Jim Wynne's short version: "We're dying down here. Please stop counting the *$%!& money for a minute and get off your fat arse and help us."
I like that one too.

Counting the money only tells you how well you did, yesterday. It tells you absolutely nothing about what will happen next, or where to prioritise effort to improve performance. And as Enron's investors discovered, the money is not always an indicator of present or future success.


Speaking the language of top management is of course critical. The language of top management isn't the only language, though. Their whole lexicon is focused on finance and accounting metrics, which often doesn't provide much guidance for the future. Sure, quality folks need to understand these bottom line results, but top management needs to understand that profit and revenue are the residues of doing a lot of other things well. You can stare at bottom line results for hours and still not know what to do about them. The more forwarding looking metrics (like customer feedback) will tell you exactly what to do about them. So, I guess my point is that we all need to become multilingual. Speaking one language and looking in only direction will guarantee trouble.

Fire away!

Craig
Yes, I agree. The most successful quality managers I've met have been able to relate every action they want to take directly to revenues, costs or margins. They tend to teach managers by making them learn through doing the right things, and they make them do the right things by appealing to the cost/revenue/margin motive.

Patrick
 

apestate

Quite Involved in Discussions
#16
Brevity IS wit.

Craig

Thank you for this great piece. It was read critically and much enjoyed. I was reticent to post early on, and am glad I waited for the discussion to begin.

This article was clearly written for Quality Digest and I think it looks great in print. It's a good article and touches on the essentials of the basics of a modern "QMS." You've got the process approach, objectives, and the support and involvement of top management nailed down, in brief. A briefing like this followed with a Gantt chart including resource needs would be a great way to go.

I hate to say it, but I would never second guess my leadership. Engineering your approach to try to fit the leader will only remove you further from your core. The quality manager's job is to brief the leadership and obtain their support and involvement, which is the wellspring of life for a QMS.

Therefore, I would not try to speak the language of my leadership, or prove benefits in dollar figures, or make any judgements about attention span. You could run the risk of confusing the subject or insulting and alienating your leader.

Do what you do best first. If they don't like it, or if they're not interested, then you must remove from yourself all harsh judgements and do your best again. If after many times this doesn't work... I say follow your leader or get off the path.
 
#17
Re: Brevity IS wit.

atetsade said:
Craig

Thank you for this great piece. It was read critically and much enjoyed. I was reticent to post early on, and am glad I waited for the discussion to begin.

This article was clearly written for Quality Digest and I think it looks great in print. It's a good article and touches on the essentials of the basics of a modern "QMS." You've got the process approach, objectives, and the support and involvement of top management nailed down, in brief. A briefing like this followed with a Gantt chart including resource needs would be a great way to go.

I hate to say it, but I would never second guess my leadership. Engineering your approach to try to fit the leader will only remove you further from your core. The quality manager's job is to brief the leadership and obtain their support and involvement, which is the wellspring of life for a QMS.

Therefore, I would not try to speak the language of my leadership, or prove benefits in dollar figures, or make any judgements about attention span. You could run the risk of confusing the subject or insulting and alienating your leader.

Do what you do best first. If they don't like it, or if they're not interested, then you must remove from yourself all harsh judgements and do your best again. If after many times this doesn't work... I say follow your leader or get off the path.
It is certainly true each of us should do what he does best, but carrying your statement to an extreme could mean speaking Klingon to a boss who only understands English because "I would not try to speak the language of my leadership . . . ."

Let me ask this: "Would it 'run the risk of confusing the subject or insulting and alienating your leader'?"

Simply, the job of a Quality professional is to COMMUNICATE facts and opinions about Quality, using any and every method that works.
 
A

Andrey

#18
Dear Craig!

I've read your articles in QDigest from time to time and always find something to think about. Unfortunately, i have no much time for regular discussions and so on. Last three months I've been busy with delivering trainings to various cathegories of people in different cities in Kazakistan. I believe top managers are the same all over the world, may be americans are more concentrated on money, than the others - but may be that's why they have them, while others - not. So it's right that we have to learn using language clear to bosses, not to pursue them understanding our jargon. But, taking my experience as qualuty manager, auditor and trainer - I will say that in most cases such kind of letters are almost useless. Folks, don't waste your time and best hours of your life for these kinds of matters - better find more convenient and relevant place and more understanding boss. Some remarks for training. We must look at the personnel management as a whole. May be we hired not appropriate people, or may be overall organization of work is wrong - and in such cases training don't help. But put the next question - why not better people were employed - and why you don't have good organization - you'll discover some deep reasons for this.

My school friends used to say that everyone goes mad in his own way. So QManager shall be able to recognize it as early as possible and shall not waste time - Or the whole world will be paradize long ago. So first we shall find the reasons, why people often behave not appropriately, and why a lot of bosses and managers like to destroy their own business - and to work with those who are adequate and committed to the philosophy of sustainable development - for them you can write less passionate and consize letters - and receive adequate responce.

Still I think it's fine that these issues are discussed, though I don't know any case when boss "became right" after any lectures, talks or letters. Adults are very rarery can be improved or reformed - unfortunately.
 

ccochran

Southern Gentleman
#19
Andrey,

Hello! Good to hear from you. Thanks for checking out the article. You made some very good points, and I agree with you about lectures and letters not changing anybody's mind. To tell you the truth, this piece was more entertainment than a real example of what to tell top management. If a single top manager saw it and gave it some serious consideration, though, it was worth writing. Hope all is well in Kazakstan.

Warm regards,
Craig
 

harry

Super Moderator
#20
Hi Craig,

Perhaps we should call it a 'WISH LIST'. Like all wishes, some will come true. If we can't move the mountain, at least move some particles of sand.

Having said that, why not consider moving ourselves since moving the mountain is out of question!

Regards.
 
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