A couple of months after our first Operation QIC® (pronounced “quick” for Quality Is Contagious) company-wide workshop, I had an interesting conversation. I was on the same flight, from Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) to Chicago, as a friend, who was a plant manager of about 1,000 employees in the aerospace industry.
He asked me about what was going on in my company, and I shared about the exciting outcome of our Operation QIC® workshop where our employees really caught the quality epidemic.
He commented that I had discovered the secret of an effective quality management system. And that, was involving the employees in the decision-making process.
He was surprised when I told him that no one in our company had ever read about or been trained in the area of quality.
We just did what we thought was the right thing to do.
Every leader can lead their company to DO quality rather than TALK quality by following three simple principles.
We see this principle reinforced by Scripture in James 1:22,
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
There is a science to quality management systems that people spend years learning. But please don’t underestimate the fact that any size business can use these three simple principles to empower their people and positively impact the financial performance of their business.
We experienced this positive impact in our own business, in the years immediately following our first QIC workshop!
For example: Using the year before the workshop as the basis, we increased profits by 224% the year after our workshop, and by 213% in the following year!
Principle #1: Create a People First Culture
We learned that customer satisfaction is a by-product of employee satisfaction. Your people, and your customers know when you have a people-first culture.
This people-first culture affects two important groups:
1 – The Owner/President/CEO/General Manager/Division or Department leader must lead the organization’s emphasis on quality.
It cannot be delegated.
Every employee must know from the leader that quality is important to them.
And the leader must visually demonstrate the high priority that they give to quality initiatives – not just talk quality.
2 – The people must be empowered.
I saw first-hand when you, as the leader, involve your people in the decision-making process, they become empowered.
Insight: When your employees experience empowerment, it, “gets them going” to follow through with their ideas of improvements. And the power of feedback “keeps them going”.
Principle #2: Measure Quality
We discovered we needed to do three things to measure quality:
1 – Identify the most common complaints, internally and externally.
It was important for us to identify persistent service-quality failures, e.g. communications, and pinpoint root causes vs. symptoms.
Then develop action plans to solve the problems and implement the solutions.
2 – Develop information management tools to track the effectiveness of solutions.
3 – Conduct customer satisfaction surveys to provide feedback to employees and identify customer trends.
Principle #3: Simplify Business Processes
I’m sure you are finding that your customers are becoming more savvy and exacting. In such a demanding climate, top quality has become a given, not a differentiator.
We learned that quality alone is NOT enough because quality alone does NOT drive a business.
In a competitive environment, quality is one by-product of…
Maximizing on-hand resources instead of adding more.
Orderly, simplified processes use resources to their best effectiveness.
Identify critical steps in the process and eliminate unnecessary steps that do not add value to the customer.
Doing things right the first time.
In other words, things are done right on the first try.
Meeting customer needs in a timely fashion.
Time (cycle time), NOT quality, drives the business. And speed drives profits.
When people can analyze their business processes, learn quickly from their experiences, and use those lessons to further simplify their work cycles, good quality occurs naturally.
Observation: Success is seldom the result of a few big, technological or conceptual breakthroughs, but rather hundreds of small innovations and improvements throughout the organization.
Continuous improvement means preventing problems before they happen and looking for new ways to meet customers’ needs.
And the result when the product or service reaches the external customer, quality is built in at every step and becomes a permanent fixture.
Do you measure quality in your organization? If so, how? How you do simplify business processes in your organization? Please leave me your comments <here> (I read every comment) and share this blog post with a friend or co-worker.
Quality is Contagious