Monthly Archives: March 2013

Quality Leadership – Vision is crucial

Quality Leadership – Vision is crucial
I may as well start with a fitting quote:
“The fact is that all flights, short or long distance, are off course 99% of the time..”
(Brian Tracy)
“Complacency is the enemy”
If we do not have a crystal clear picture of what we want our quality system to be or do, there is a very high probability that we will merely coast along into complacency. This can be dangerous because when we become complacent we stop improving.
It is my belief that quality leadership begins with a “Quality Vision for the organization”. This is not to imply a placard hanging on the wall with a flashy statement that no one looks at, much less cares about.

Without a clear picture in our minds of where our quality system will be in the future, the employees (including management) will likely have no idea of what needs to be done or what improvements they should be working on. As a matter of fact, employees may actually be working on projects that are in conflict with what the organization is trying to achieve. Without this clear “vision” of where you plan (or need) to be in terms of your quality system and product/ service quality, you will end up in a place that you do not want to be. Like the plane (above in the quote) that is constantly off course and is constantly having its course adjusted to reach the desired destination (Vision), your organization needs to know what the end destination is. Without this, you may jump around on project after project, yet not be moving any closer to where you truly need to be moving towards. Some will refer to this as “busy work”. Confusing this “busy work” or movement for progress is a waste of resources and lost time.

“How do we do it?”
Here are some initial steps to what I consider crucial in becoming an effective quality organization:
1) Have a clear vision or picture in your mind as to where you want to be as an organization in “X” number of years or months. This will set the stages for the next steps thus it is important.
2) Next, develop a meaningful quality policy. Quality policies should be in terminology that all employees understand and can translate into clear direction for the daily activities. ISO 9001 requires one as well.
3) Develop and communicate actionable “Objectives”. These should be directly linked to your Quality Policy and your Vision. Each of these objectives should use the “S.M.A.R.T’ approach. (Specific, Measureable, Action Oriented, Realistic and time bound).
4) Define the critical business processes within your organization, the process owners, objectives & measures of success of each and monitor/ measure them.
5) Have clearly defined jobs for your employees with objectives and constant feedback.
6) Develop a robust hiring and employee development program.
7) Develop a rock solid contract review and product launch process. If you are not doing this correctly and effectively, you will likely fight problems during the entire product life cycle.
8) Implement a top notch internal audit process made up of all departments, units. There is no better method to engage and educate employees on the “big picture” of the business than to involve them.
9) Important one – management must walk the talk. Saying one thing and doing another is probably the worst thing for an organization. This can be as damaging as trying to implement new programs every month that go nowhere (start/ stops).

Obviously there are tasks that need to be done as well, but this is just a starting point as is intended by this post.

Here is to improvement.


Discussion 3 – Phases of Planned Change:

Discussion 3 – Phases of Planned Change:

One approach to implementing change in an organization was developed by a psychologist named Kurt Lewin. His approach consists of three simple steps:

1)      Unfreezing:

–          This is the first phase in implementing change. It consists of creating a strong enough desire for changing the old, unwanted culture or behaviors. If the “pain” of doing the same unwanted behaviors is not strong enough, there will be no desire felt within the organization to change. In my experience, organization behavior evolves as a result of what is felt to get the perceived job done, while expending the least amount of perceived effort to do it. Many times these methods are not optimal and actually work against other goals and objectives. The change agents need to make a strongly felt reason to change. Some examples might be the threat of closure due to more efficient competitors, or better products that serve a need better.    

2)      Changing:

–          This second phase is where the new culture, behaviors, way to do things is put in place. It is important that any infrastructure needed to support the new change be thought out and in place. If this does not happen, the organization will resist the new change and will either fall back to the old way or even a hybrid of the old and new ways that may be worse for the organization. Many organizations do not do a good job at implementing new initiatives and the employees become resistant to any and all new initiatives. This “start/ stop” can make employees feel that the latest change will come and go as well, thus will not be supported. This phase may require training in the new methods, new equipment, resources, etc… It is important that these be met. 

3)      Refreezing:

–          The third phase in the three step approach of Lewin is the Refreezing phase. This is the phase where the new changes, behaviors, etc…  are made to be the new daily norms of the organization. I have this referred to as “standardize” in the quality assurance field and this is where you make the new behaviors part of the “standard’ method of operating. Some effective methods of doing this are by linking rewards to the new behaviors. I have experienced companies that tie these types of things into regular reviews as well reinforcing it there as well. 

4)      Organization change:

–          Organizational change can be one of the toughest tasks that leadership can face. People are resistant to change by nature unless the need to change is strong enough. At times, company management may have to create a situation (real or perceived by the workforce) to start the process.

To  improvement!