Quality Magazine

Face of Quality: Create Organizational Reliability

April 30, 2010
Understanding and commitment is required to do things right the first time.



Management has an obligation to create a useful and reliable organization. However, quality professionals have a significant responsibility to help the organization with the second part of that equation. Achieving this goal is challenging but not extremely difficult. It requires a sound philosophy and technique to achieve the goal of establishing a reliable organization.

Managers and quality professionals need to understand what has to be done to create an organization in which relationships are successful and transactions are completed correctly the first time. This requires creating a culture designed to produce required results. This culture is constructed of a basic quality management philosophy supported by actionable components.

In thinking about a committed and reliable culture, my mind goes to The Boy Scouts of America. Looking back on my days as a scout, we learned many valuable lessons that still serve me today. It provides an example that can be used to better understand what it takes to create a useful and reliable organization. The basic philosophy of scouting was clear. As a member of the scouts I remember the promise: “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law: to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

An understandable list of requirements makes up the Scout Law: Scouts must be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. All of these requirements are very specific and their meanings discussed in the regular meetings.

The tactical plans, or actions items, for the scouts are called merit badges. There are more badges today than when I was a member. Scouts are expected to learn many of the skills contained within the badge requirements. When they can demonstrate these skills and knowledge, scouts achieve recognition.

Organizations and professionals can learn from this approach, especially when it comes to quality. Most organizations concentrate on the “merit badge” subjects of quality before they build a culture. This impatient approach tends to produce a flavor-of-the-month cycle, which accomplishes little but keeps everyone extremely busy. Few people seem to be concerned that very little gets accomplished as long as they are getting their “badges.”

Quality professionals who want their organization to be known as useful and reliable have to give this some consideration. In today’s global economy, only those considered useful and reliable will survive. Managers and quality professionals need to keep in mind that when everyone is certified to ISO 9000, ISO/TS 16949 or something similar, what makes one organization different from another? The answer is performance.

The philosophy of the useful and reliable culture comes from four continuing considerations: policy, education, requirements and insistence. After achieving these, we can use the “merit badge” components such as ISO 9000 and Six Sigma programs. These are valuable when implemented in an organization that has a sound philosophical base.

Quality is a serious part of the success of any organization, and if it’s not integrated in the day-to-day work life, it won’t happen. Management and quality professionals have to work together to build quality into the culture of the organization-and, then, constantly nurture it.