Long ago Philip Crosby said (and I paraphrase here), “There’s no such thing as good quality or bad quality, there is just quality. Something either is quality, or it’s not.” He went on to suggest that quality is defined as “conformance to requirement.” What would Phillip Crosby and other quality gurus say today about quality in light of the massive amounts of change that organizations are experiencing? As Paul Borawski asks, “How can the practice of quality evolve to support the needs of a rapidly changing world?”
I think the quality gurus would suggest that quality itself doesn’t change: something is either conforming to standard or a non-conformance. While the standard may change as product lifecycles evolve more quickly, the standard is still the standard within the product requirements. However, they might suggest that the ‘practice of quality,’ or what might be seen as the ‘management of quality during massive change,’ will greatly influence the quality of results. With the increasing demand for better, faster results, it’s easy for the ‘practice of quality’ to suffer, be compromised or treated as an impediment to productivity.
However, there is a sure way to protect quality during change, and we believe it begins when quality is viewed as a measure of our “focus.” Let me offer an example. We were chosen to be part of the highly selective group of ASQ’s Influential Voices, “because your blog isn’t pedestrian.” What leadership at ASQ meant was that by reading our blog, although long at times and dense with quality rich material, it demonstrated knowledge and experience. It wasn’t about faster, quicker, smaller but rather about a thoughtful, quality and results-oriented focus. Our focus was on quality, not speed or change.
Our quality focus has always been about getting the correct, well-qualified information to the right people. Our goal is to give thought-provoking insight and clarity through our posts so that when our readers have a question pertaining to our industry, we’re the first resource that pops into their heads. To make that happen – to be first-choice quality – we must go full-throttle with our research, advice from renowned experts, theory from-the-field and statistics with practical insight. We must never short-change our focus on quality because of a rapidly changing world.
In the documentary, Page One: Inside the New York Times, the story focuses on the apparent demise of the newspaper industry and the rise of free online information models (the free, quick stuff!). The arguing point by the New York Times is that without the solid body of writing, research and years in the industry – “the quality of reporting” — represented by publications like the New York Times – the faster, quicker media platforms like Twitter, The Huffington Post, and Facebook would not exist. Where would they go if there was not the quality content of the New York Times? Where would the links at the end of a Twitter update go to? Or, as David Carr of the New York Times put it so bluntly in the documentary, “The New York Times has dozens of bureaus all over the world. We’re going to toss that out and kick back and see what Facebook turns up.” He knows full well that the answer will be substantially less than what people want.
For me, this is a great example of what Paul Borawski asked us in his September post around Faster, Faster, Faster. Instead of faster, we should be working on our focus. The goal is to compete in this fast-paced world, but the focus needs to be on how we do it. It doesn’t mean sacrificing quality for quantity (how many times can we move this product out the door). It does mean having the focus to realign resources when necessary. It means having the focus to get the right people in the rights seats going in the right direction (and doing it quickly). It does mean, at times, having the focus to stop the product launch for the sake of quality. Mostly, quality means focus – where do we put our eye, our focus?
I’m part of the ASQ Influential Voices program. While I receive an honorarium from ASQ for my commitment, the thoughts and opinions expressed on my blog are my own.
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