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Re-Energizing a Culture of Quality

I lean a lot toward Steve Prevette's view (not surprising because we are both staunch Demingites.)

I do a lot of things having to do with changing a culture in my consulting practice. "It ain't easy, McGee";) or no organization would ever need an outside consultant.

The first step, of course, is to identify WHAT "change" is needed or whether top management agrees a change is needed.

Without top management buy-in, no budget will be available (time, money, or personnel) to explore ways and means to deploy change.

A questionnaire is a good first step, but it requires some personal follow-up to identify cliques, taboos, sacred cows among the personalities which make up a culture. Sometimes (often), the problem is simply poor two-way communication between managers and workers; between customers and suppliers; between regulators and regulated.

Part of that follow-up is identifying cultural leaders (often not the same as "corporate leaders.") These cultural leaders must either be brought into the fold to want the change or [tough love] eliminated.

From that point on, the process usually requires the input of an expert to deploy an efficient, effective cultural change. It doesn't happen overnight. It requires setting evaluation plateaus along the way to determine whether the process is working as planned or needs tweaking. Change is (should be) a continual process, not static or "once-and-done."

My own initial interview with a prospective client begins with determining WHAT the bosses regard as an issue they need or want to deal with. Usually this is something like:
a perceived "crisis" situation which might be, but is not limited to:
  • seeking registration to a Standard due to outside pressure
  • "re-engineering" an organization which needs major Kaizen events to become competitive in its market
  • "assimilating" a recent takeover of an organization with a different culture
  • "fairness opinions" when selling an organization or creating an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) or Initial Public Offering (IPO)
  • Complying with Sarbannes-Oxley Act for public corporations
  • new product introduction (production and marketing)
  • achieving government certification in a regulated industry
  • negotiating with aggressive customers
  • negotiating with banks, financiers, equity investors
  • adopting and assimilating new technologies (such as Electronic Document Management or Customer Relationship Management)
The OP's issue seems to come close to falling in the category "re-engineering" an organization which needs major Kaizen events to become competitive in its market"
because the OP writes
"We are trending poorly with far too many non-conformances and customer credits for the last 18-20 months."
which would definitely affect its competitive status.
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