This month the ASQ leadership is asking, “How do you increase the value of quality in organizations beyond what is traditionally thought of as a quality function?” The question is framed by ASQ CEO Paul Borawski’s participation in a brand new organization called The Smart New Manufacturing Coalition. Ironically, we believe the answer to the question is entirely dependent on the setting in which it will reside. Let me explain.
Despite the realization for years that traditional, function organizational structures create silos and difficult to manage white spaces, we continue to see this framework over and over. Wherever it exists, quality will reside in one of the functional silos and be seen by others as something outside their every day work. Quality professionals will interface with the functions on specific non-conformances, corrective actions and even preventive actions, but rarely be able to embed their passion for quality into the mindsets of others outside their function. It’s only when quality is integrated into the functions that the true value of quality will begin to exceed its original function. But, how do we do that?
Enter in the idea of Star Points and the Star Point structure originally developed by Charles Krone in a Lima, Ohio P & G plant 30 years ago. He believed that a horizontal structure, not quite like a matrix organization which focuses on product or project, but rather one that focuses on cross-functional processes, could close the gap of the white spaces.
We have implemented Star Point roles in numerous manufacturing and service organizations with great success. Individuals are identified within each department or team to carry a Star Point function, such as quality. They then interface on a regular basis with a Star Point Leader, who is considered a subject matter expert on the topic. That SME leader provides communication, materials, training, metrics and systems to the Star Point in the function, who then delivers it to the members of the function. So, for example, a production department composed of 10 workplace teams now has a quality star point on each team who trains members, tracks data, and communicates key quality information. Simultaneously, the Star Point member on the team brings information back to the Quality Leader SME regarding questions, concerns and issues from the field.
I’ve never been able to understand why Star Points aren’t the model used by everyone. But then again, Star Points are outside the traditional organizational model – similar to what Paul saw in this new organization — and that makes some people nervous.
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.
For more information on Star Points, we invite you to download for free The Skinny Star Point Role Guide.
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