Tag: continuous improvement

Quality as a Journey: Keep Going & Other Lessons Learned

Some of our inquiries at Pro QC come from organizations reaching out for reactive assistance that addresses current, significant quality issues. Once the immediate issue is addressed, ongoing quality efforts lose their luster until the next debacle.  It can be a viscous cycle in which clients are faced with difficult decisions regarding accountability to stakeholders.  Reactive solutions are also often more costly.

But, quality is a journey.

It’s a journey.

Here are a few lessons learned as an organization offering over three decades of experience in the industry:

 

  1. A successful journey starts and ends with the right leadership.  The organization’s leadership must support quality and ongoing efforts for improvements. And, that support must be communicated from the top, down in order for everyone to understand the importance of quality as a factor in decision making.
  2. Identify and regularly review targeted (applicable) data that provides corporate-wide incentives supporting quality performance. Think about how current incentives and KPIs used to evaluate performance affect overall quality.
  3. Celebrate achievements and identify opportunities from failures. Organizations as a whole must reward accomplishments and successful goal completion.  In addition, the corporate culture should accept results that don’t meet expectations so that those examples are not repeated and are rather learned from.
  4. Stay focused on the long-term. It’s easy to get wrapped up in short-term solutions, but consider long-term solutions that will likely reduce overall time and resources required.
  5. Keep going! A journey doesn’t stop, nor should it. The essence of quality is continuous improvement, so think PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) to ensure you stay focused on the process and those short and long-term improvements.

What are the lessons learned in your personal quality journey?

Leading Teams Effectively

1526430_840833672625817_5691307568455533697_nManaging teams is a core leadership subject within the CMQ/OE certification body of knowledge.  As a CMQ/OE and Education Chair of the local ASQ section in Tampa, Pro QC’s Communications Director recently instructed a webinar related to Leading Teams Effectively.  Similar training was also recently conducted for our team in China.  At Pro QC, we understand the benefits of effective teams as it relates to the delivery of value-added quality services that reduce our clients’ risks and cost.

With experience managing teams across 38 countries, our takeaways for managing effectively include:

The Right People – Selecting team members that have the right experience, skills and attitudes is critical.

Navigating Team Stages – Understand the five team development stages of forming, storming, norming and performing.  Leadership within each stage ensures smooth transitions and maximizes productivity throughout the process.

Approach to Problem Solving – Understand the team problem solving steps, but more specifically ensure that each team member is knowledgeable regarding quality tools that can be incorporated throughout the process. The Quality Toolbox is an invaluable resource here.

Build Mutual Trust & Respect – It is noted that over 33 million results appear when you type “team building” into Google.  Many of these include team building consulting or other related information.  Team building focuses on building mutual trust and respect that is required for teams to successfully meet goals and objectives.  Teampedia offers several ideas, but consistency and management support are key.

Staying Organized – Organization, including the development of a Team Charter, written agendas and clearly defined roles, is correlated with a team’s ability to meet goals and objectives.

Continuous Improvement – Periodic evaluation of team performance is necessary.  Evaluating whether or not the team is supportive, participative, organized, has adequate resources and clearly defined leadership supports continuous improvement and higher quality output.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” –Andrew Carnegie

World Quality Month is here… Spread the word!

November is recognized internationally as World Quality Month.  Some interesting fun facts regarding its origin via ASQ include:

  • Japan has celebrated World Quality Month in November since 1960.
  • China originally recognized World Quality Month in September starting in 1978.
  • North America started raising awareness in 1988 and originally celebrated in October.
  • First promulgated by the United Nations in 1990, World Quality Day aims to raise international awareness of the important role quality plays in ensuring nations’ prosperity. Now it is celebrated annually on the second Thursday of November.
  • In the UK, Chartered Quality Institute (CQI) will celebrate World Quality Day with events from November 11-15. The South African Quality Institute also celebrates National Quality Week annually.

Why do we need a World Quality Month?

“The purpose of World Quality Month is to promote the use of quality tools in businesses and communities. Quality tools, such as flowcharts and checklists, reduce mistakes and help produce superior products. Quality principles could reduce headline-making errors, like food safety, toy recalls, and financial disruptions. World Quality Month calls on people who use quality tools to share their knowledge by submitting their stories to illustrate the value of quality principles.” (ASQ Source)

“The purpose of World Quality Day is to promote awareness of quality around the world and encourage development and prosperity” (CQI Source)

At Pro QC, we know quality incorporates reducing risks and cost of the products and services produced and delivered, but it also includes quality of life.  November is a time to recognize the importance of an overall quality focus and incorporate proven principles into daily life throughout the month and ongoing.

For this World Quality Month, we are offering a weekly progress approach that can be duplicated for continuous improvement. Try it, and let us know what you think!

Week 1 – Spread awareness.

  • If you work in quality, tell your friends, family and co-workers more about what you do and why you do it.  Ask them what they think quality is and open a discussion about its importance.
  • Host a special team meeting (celebration) at work and recognize World Quality Month. Talk about what the organization has done throughout the year to support quality and what future goals/objectives include.
  • If you are unable to host a special meeting for World Quality Month, add it to the agenda of a regularly scheduled meeting and encourage employees to submit quality improvement suggestions or learn more at links such as those provided at the end of this post.
  • Send out an organization-wide email reinforcing the importance of quality and including additional references such as those listed below and other training opportunities that may be available.

Week 2 – Look inward.

  • Brainstorm ideas for improving quality within the organization. Get everyone involved.  If you gave everyone an index card and asked them to write suggestions for improvement, imagine what the value of that information could turn into when you consider the potential cost savings and team support.
  • Perform an internal systems evaluation/audit to identify areas of improvement.  Evaluate and plan for corrective action.  Communicate support.

Week 3 – Use the tools.

  • Take the opportunity to incorporate a new quality tool into your regular mix.  You’ll likely see an ongoing issue in a new way.
  • Setup training for staff that may not usually use quality tools and show them how they can be incorporated into the efficiency of their work and personal lives.
  • Purchase a copy of the Quality Toolbox for all managers.

Week 4 – Keep it going.

  • Quality isn’t something we should only recognize for one month during the year. Continuous improvement is, in fact, the core of what quality means.
  • Continue with regular training of all staff in various quality principles and keep everyone in the organization informed regarding quality initiatives and progress.
  • Setup a World Quality Month planning committee to organize events for next year!

Additional Quality Month resources can be found here:

36091-WQM-2014-logo