“Quality of ONE” is a vision to achieve excellence that focuses on a vital human aspect. It requires growing a culture within teams to transform the perception of quality from an activity to ownership with a “NOT IN MY HOUSE” attitude.


Every product or service requires individualized attention and focus on quality. Getting caught up in “I have been checking for months and there has never been a problem” is a natural perspective. Procedures and quality checks are developed to protect sub-par performance not for everyday occurrences but for those unique one-off situations.

My approach is to explain “The WHY” in relatable everyday activities. Technical descriptions alienate audiences by making them feel less capable. An example I always use is speeding. You can speed for a long time, but it takes one unique scenario combination (location, time, speed, officer, etc.) to result in a ticket. You can repeat the event and it will never happen again in your lifetime.

Process steps could be violated and not result in sub-par output. Procedural steps are designed to ensure consistent results with any combination of inputs. It is crucial to have a consistent output to ensure all necessary measures are in place to produce a product or service to meet customer expectations.

Human Contribution

Several publications acknowledge a significant number of controllable quality concerns arise due to human activity. An area consistently resulting in violations is procedural. Two areas of concern are bypassing designed steps or modifying the current methodology. The migration starts initially due to competing priorities and individuals implement a perceived better solution to address the current condition. Over time, these temporary actions become normalized since adjustments/modifications proved to be non-impactful.

Assumption Driving Long-Term Impact

A significant misconception by management teams is these actions are due to laziness or malicious employee behavior. A discovery of inconsistent behavior around following process steps leads to punitive measures. The disciplinary action immediately eradicates the subpar performance of the current condition. This is a short-term victory that drives employees to become untransparent in a future investigation. They fear the implications and might not be forthcoming if activities were not performed based on standardized methods. This could lead to considerable time and resources to understand the root cause.

Root Cause Overlooked

Most of the time, the employee views these actions as process improvement efforts. Finding an easier way to install a component in an assembly to gain additional time between tasks is human nature. Take the simple job of mowing the lawn. Every time I try to figure out another pattern or route to improve time to gain a few minutes of extra relaxation. This is a prevalent mindset within task-based operational jobs.

Personal Sample Survey

I have personally been involved in several situations in which modifications to the procedure have been performed. Almost every incident involved the individual’s action as a result of doing what is best for the organization. Rarely have I encountered an occurrence of malicious goals warranting an investigation by human resources. Below I highlight actions that resulted in sub-par performance by individuals and the methodology I used to re-inference “Quality of ONE.”

Opportunity – Action – Reinforcement – Sustainment

Working in a testing engineering organization, my responsibilities involved continuously monitoring validation testing performed on fully assembled components. If the product failed to meet minimum requirements, it is routed to a location for disposition by individuals. This activity is crucial to ensure the “Quality of ONE” mindset. Having stringent requirements results in Type-I error risk as defined in statistics. Type-I error (producer’s risk) is the risk of calling a part unsellable, but there is nothing wrong with it. Standard practice by organizations is to take the financial burden (risk) of this condition to protect customers. Individuals working to disposition of sub-par products clearly understand that the system could potentially indicate a part is unacceptable even though there are no issues. Having this background knowledge sometimes biases them to circumvent the mindset of “Quality of ONE.”

Reviewing the previous day’s system performance, I noticed a failed component for a particular test condition. I quickly headed to the floor to investigate why. Upon approaching the individual responsible for managing the assembly, they mentioned the assembly was relocated to another area due to footprint limitations in the work area. They immediately suggested it could be a false rejection and identifying and retrieving the assembly would require considerable time. This statement is a pivot point to reinforce the “Quality of ONE” vision. I asked what help (resources and equipment) was needed to locate and conduct an analysis on the assembly. Again, it was brought up that it would take considerable time and resources at the moment to secure the assembly for analysis. A compelling case was made to wait till tomorrow. I explained my desire to help and confirmed my commitment to work together to determine the condition of the assembly. After some negotiations, together we developed a work plan that included assignments for both of us to get the assembly staged for analysis. After several hours of communications with various inter-departments, assembly was staged for analysis. Testing confirmed a sub-component of the assembled part contributed to the undesired condition.

Victory is always viewed as a positive highlight, especially when the root cause is a supplier part. After securing the component, I leveraged the internal process to contact the supplier and advised them of the concern. The first question is, “How many assemblies contain this condition and how many assemblies were built within the time frame?” I advised ONE among approximately 1,000 units. The individual responsible for managing the relationship with the supplier visually and vocally express the need for clarification on all the energy around ONE assembly of 1,000. I explained the need to get the analysis done quickly to prevent future failures within the system. In addition, I suggested that suppliers come to the facility so they can see failure condition firsthand instead of shipping and have dialogue after assessment within their facility. The supplier sent a representative to evaluate the component. Again, the same question: how many out of how many? Same response from the supplier as others; why the high priority? Once confirming failure, the supplier representative immediately alerted the location supplying the component. A gap in their process was discovered; several others have been produced but have yet to be shipped. Further information revealed that actions performed on the ONE part prevent a significant flow of compromised quality parts.

Final Note

In the above example, I showed the importance of the “Quality of ONE” mindset. In all three encounters, every individual was puzzled by the urgency to assess the component. Seeking to find the root cause and the resiliency to overcome “Why” clearly demonstrated my passion and attitude of “NOT IN MY HOUSE” to the three individuals I had direct contact with and all others indirectly. In this specific case, success was achieved, many times my efforts resulted in a false alarm. Taking the additional effort to share findings (successful or unsuccessful) with the team shows appreciation for the support and exemplifies the vision of “Quality of ONE.” Outcomes of high-intensity efforts should always be shared, even in cases where the outcome does not always result in desired findings. Consistent actions encompassing passionate behaviors will directly impact others around you and generate future ambassadors of “Quality of ONE.” Developing others to drive the same mindset results in a cultural change sustaining the vision.


  1. Sensible vision is required for successful transformation (Kotter, 2007). Kotter, J. P. (2007). Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. In Museum management and marketing (pp. 20-29). Routledge
  2. Kotter, J. P. (2009). Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. IEEE Engineering Management Review, 37(3), 42-48.
  3. Salman, Y., & Broten, N. (2017). An analysis of John P. Kotter’s leading change. Macat Library
  4. https://hbr.org/1995/05/leading-change-why-transformation-efforts-fail-2