While there are many important quality management principles, this time we will look at continuous improvement. Perhaps the idea most commonly associated with quality, it means never being satisfied with the status quo.
Data isn’t everything. But it’s perhaps the main thing standing between you and a successful project. Continuous improvement takes effort, but more than anything, it takes solid information and analysis. In other words, wouldn’t it be more helpful to use statistical process control to find out where your process is going wrong, rather than just a hunch?
NASA. Volkswagen. BP. It’s not hard to find examples of quality gone awry. The consequences of the Challenger disaster, VW’s Dieselgate, and the Deepwater Horizon were tragic and far-reaching. While these are some of the most well-known incidents, stories of quality failures are numerous and almost constant.
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.
Although quality managers are usually seen as the stewards of products that meet specifications and processes that don’t fail, what they’re really interested in is performance -- helping people and machines work together to make things easier, better, faster and less expensive.
Problems cost money. The sooner a potential problem or error is anticipated and resolved, the less it will ultimately cost an organization. This includes direct costs like warranty claims and recalls, and in more serious terms, the long-term costs associated with lost business and damage to a company’s reputation.
When people use the word “Quality,” it’s usually as a synonym for “good.” Many brands tout their products as “high quality” or “superior quality” in just this way without really defining what the characteristics of “Quality” are, and we’re more likely to see it in marketing material than in integral business process or policy documents.
Customer experience is one of the most important differentiators for any organization. Many industries are witnessing a levelling of innovation because of the broader democratization of technology, which means no organization can afford to rely on simple product differentiation to gain customers and win in new markets.