The Elusive Culture Change

B

Bruce Epstein

#1
It seems to me that all the literature, all the gurus, all the training courses, etc. (if you forgive the slight exaggeration) stress the need to "sell the message to senior management".

OK, now the hard question: has anyone actually witnessed a senior manager who "bought"?

Personally, in over 20 years experience, I have seen organizational culture change occur in the following circumstances:

1. New senior manager arrives from outside, already convinced of the power of a Quality culture

2. Quality champion somehow survives unscathed and manages to get promoted to a position of real power

3. "Near death experience" threatens survival of company, and senior manager (if not already replaced in cases 1 or 2 above), out of desperation, accepts the need to make necessary changes.

But I have never witnessed a senior manager who wakes up one day and says "gee, maybe all this Quality stuff is worth a go".

Have you?

Discuss...

:frust:
 
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SteelMaiden

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#2
Actually, I did see this happen once. It took about 10 years to finally get to the guy but one day he finally woke up and "saw the light." I think it was when everything else was running smoothly and his area was the one that always ended up with nonconformances, returns and allowances being charge against his dept, etc. We had a formal quality system in place, then went ISO. At about the second to the last surveillance in our 3 year series, the registrar's auditor took him off to the side and told him that he was a disgrace to an otherwise world class quality system and that if he would work with the QA dept. instead of fighting them, he could probably bring his dept. to the top of the list instead of the bottom.

I will be forever grateful to that auditor, he turned the guy around, we went from a dismal 5% on-time delivery to 95% and reduced data entry errors that caused customer complaints by about 90%.

Now, I guess that you could say this fits into one of your "unless" categories, but it is truly a gratifying experience if you've ever been involved in a turnaround like it.
 
A

Aaron Lupo

#3
Originally posted by SteelMaiden
At about the second to the last surveillance in our 3 year series, the registrar's auditor took him off to the side and told him that he was a disgrace to an otherwise world class quality system and that if he would work with the QA dept. instead of fighting them, he could probably bring his dept. to the top of the list instead of the bottom.
Yes I have seen it happen too, where the President/Owner of the company I worked for said hey wait a second this is a good thing QA is trying to do. I think why it happened was that I went to him and explained why we are doing this and howmuch money it will save the company in the long run. JMHO if you put things to "Top management" in $$ figures thats when they will understand you.

Steel, as far as the auditor pulling the guy aside and telling him that he was a disgrace that was just wrong. JMHO, you don't want to make personal attacks. I am surprised it worked and that the guy he told this to didn't belt him one.
 
E

energy

#4
Familiarity

Originally posted by ISO GUY
Steel, as far as the auditor pulling the guy aside and telling him that he was a disgrace that was just wrong. JMHO, you don't want to make personal attacks. I am surprised it worked and that the guy he told this to didn't belt him one.
If an external auditor has built up some familiarity with the people who he audits, regularly, it is quite possible to be able to make that type of comment. If I were to ask my auditor, "Hey Joe, off the record, how am I doing, honestly? C'mon let me have it." You may be able to say something like Steel refers to. But, I can see where you can get in the sh-ts with the Company owner and, maybe, with your own Company. I made that mistake with a Supplier, only once. During a routine Source Inspection, the company foreman asked me, off the record, well, tell me; How does our product compare to my competitor's? Being quite young and trusting him, I told him that his stuff sucked compared to what I was used to seeing. That made it's way back to the Supplier's owner and then back to my company's President. My boss chewed me out good. He said it wasn't professional and even though they suck, you never tell them like that. He said, "When you're dealing with a Customer-Supplier relationship, nothing's off the record". I never did it again. I would hope that my Auditor tells me like it is. Just don't tell me I'm a disgrace to my profession, even though it may be true. Got it?;)

Back to the thread.

Bruce, No. I've never seen it. I also have been in Quality since 1966. It's a never ending battle!:ko: :smokin:
 
Last edited by a moderator:
#5
Clearly a near death experience

I think it was when everything else was running smoothly and his area was the one that always ended up with nonconformances, returns and allowances being charge against his dept, etc. At about the second to the last surveillance in our 3 year series, the registrar's auditor took him off to the side and told him that he was a disgrace to an otherwise world class quality system and that if he would work with the QA dept. instead of fighting them, he could probably bring his dept. to the top of the list instead of the bottom.
All things considered, this must clearly be a "near death experience" on Bruce's list.
JMHO if you put things to "Top management" in $$ figures thats when they will understand you.
Exactly. That is as far as I know the only kind of language that really works: Where's the money in it? There in no use telling people that the customer gets mad if we do this or don't do that... Find out what it costs and tell them that instead.
Steel, as far as the auditor pulling the guy aside and telling him that he was a disgrace that was just wrong. JMHO, you don't want to make personal attacks.
I agree. Just complicate the situation by dragging facts into the discussion instead.

/Claes
 

SteelMaiden

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#6
Actually, it wasn't a near death experience, it was pretty normal for the industry...but I think I did state in the first post that it could probably fall into that category. (yes indeed, the industry norm for delivery was 100% not on time!) sad isn't it? And we were considered the best of the best.

Yep, I agree, I would never encourage an auditor to do something like that, but the manager in question was a troublemaker from the word go, and our auditors knew it. Corrective actions were never on time, or effective, he did everything he could to throw a wrench in the process. The rest of the business was really great, so great that they managed to actually pull this guys group's weight for 4 surveillances. It just finally caught up.

So, please don't think that I am advocating beating people up with an auditor, I'm not. Just saying that miracles can happen, and sometimes you can get people to see the light.
 
A

Aaron Lupo

#7
Point well taken Steel. We had a similar situation where I work and rather than letting the person keep going the way they were going they canned their butt. I didn't think you were advocating what the auditor did and I am sure the manager deserved it, I just don't know if I could do something like that. As mad as I get at times I just look at the person and laugh to myself rather than insulting them and risk them smacking me around. :vfunny:
 

Atul Khandekar

Quite Involved in Discussions
#8
Bruce,

There is one very interesting thread here that discusses senior management's commitment (!) to Quality- Is That A Knife In My Back?!?! -
http://Elsmar.com/Forums/showthread.php?t=4237

I would vote for your third option - Near Death Experience -caused by some stiff competition and demands by end users of the product.

IMO, both, the 'new senior manager' and the the 'promoted surviving champion' are more likely to mould into the CEO culture ( MONEY!) than otherwise.

Why do you think there is a separate clause on 'Management Resposibility & Commitment'?

-Atul.
 
#9
Bruce,

I have seen these changes occur within several companies to a large extent, though only about twice was it a complete turnaround of culture. I spent several years in the early 1990's working for a registrar on ISO & QS and I worked with several companies where the top management or owner was only entering into QS because of contractual requirements and let me know. On later visits I was pleasantly surprised with the attitude adjustment and commitment with in several companies. Now management was committed and behind the system. There were still some lapses in most, but overall the change had occurred.

In my experience the key to this commitment was a Quality manager or another responsible person that was exceptional in relating the benefits and successes to the bottom line (Which is not easy). And of course the top management, at sometime, had to look at the data and listen.

Additionally the Quality Manager or eq. had an inner sales person that was dying to get out

However, In my experience this is still not the norm. But this must be what keeps me trying. It is either that or some sickness where I crave pain & frustration. :frust:
 
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