How do you know quality when you see it?

After describing what it is that Pro QC does the other day, an individual paused and asked how we know what quality is when we see it. And, that’s a very interesting question that many conclude is just too subjective to answer. Likely the most popular general definition is Deming’s idea of whether something is meeting or exceeding customer expectations. But, how can you tell? Our engineers would probably start talking about product specifications, testing requirements, tolerances and such.  But, another broader assumption is that quality focused organizations produce quality products. But, how can you tell if an organization is quality focused?

In partnering with companies of all sizes and various industries over the last thirty years, we have observed a few common traits within organizations that are quality focused and successful at meeting or exceeding their customers’ expectations. (We highlight some of these organizations as Client Stories in our quarterly newsletter. )

Our observations include:

1) Corporate culture: People talk about quality and are enthusiastic about it. They know it’s important.

ASQ and Forbes Insights recently posted a must-read on this topic. “This first-of-its-kind global study offers actionable insight into how a more quality driven culture can accelerate business performance.”  Culture of Quality: Accelerating Growth & Performance in the Enterprise 

2) Long-term vision: Actions, such as investing in supplier performance and internal evaluation programs and/or audits, focus on long-term results and support sustainability and social responsibility. Forbes identified six reasons companies should embrace CSR that we also see as quality contributors:

  1. Innovation
  2. Cost savings
  3. Brand differentiation
  4. Long-term thinking
  5. Customer engagement
  6. Employee engagement

3) Proactive: When there are issues with production identified through QC evaluation or otherwise, the organization is proactive.  Corrective actions are identified and implemented.  Failures are considered a learning experience as long as they don’t keep occurring.

“The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct and learn from it.” ~Steven Covey

4) Committed: Quality and continuous improvement are a priority in good times and bad.

Continuous improvement is an ongoing effort to improve products, services or processes. These efforts can seek ‘incremental’ improvement over time or ‘breakthrough’ improvement all at once.” (Source)

How do you know quality when you see it?

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