Quality is not simply a theoretical idea about how to cut costs and make better products and services. Quality is about anticipating the consequences of errors, carelessness, and inefficiency, and putting processes in place to ensure they don’t occur. For most organizations, errors can cost time and money, which can have a significant impact on the financial bottom line and brand reputation. In some situations, the consequences of error can be catastrophic, resulting in loss of life, environmental damage, and extensive financial liability.
How do Quality failures happen? What causes a self-driving car to kill a pedestrian? Or a well-known food brand to be contaminated with bacteria that cause a massive listeria outbreak? The sheer scale of some of these types of disasters might lead us to believe that the causes are equally large, that they ought to have been obvious to anyone or that only willful ignorance could be to blame. In reality, disaster is often the result of a cascading series of tiny, almost imperceptible Quality failures. They build slowly over time in organizational cultures not in the habit of looking for them or of being mindful of their presence and meaning when they do appear as smaller symptoms.
Quality Management isn’t simply a series of abstract ideas we follow to get a certification that allows us to bid on certain contracts from our customers. Quality Management serves a higher purpose; it is the business system that underpins how organizations should be managed and operated so that we do business for good, so that we protect our customers, employees, the public, and the environment in which we all live.
This Insight Report focuses on some well-known Quality failures as an opportunity to share lessons learned and demonstrate the importance of Quality Management. You’ve probably heard of them, but do you really know the Quality principles that lie at the heart of what happened? Read the report to discover some important lessons on how tiny errors can be compounded into a much larger disaster, as well as some examples of how to recover from failure and drive improvement in our respective businesses so that we can avoid repeating such mistakes.