What does Quality mean to you?

There is no doubt that Quality gets used again and again but if you asked someone to define what they mean by Quality every answer will vary slightly. It may relate to a product or service or the performance and specifications. My concern is do people really understand the value of the Quality management system? Also is that why systems seem to get put to the bottom of the to-do pile, the time and cost needed to concentrate on putting in systems is not perceived to give a good return on investment. We can measure the number of rejects or customer complaints but it becomes a lot more involved to measure staff efficiency and work flow.

As our businesses become larger and we need to take on staff, conveying what needs to get done also starts to get more involved. I always use the tug boat / cruise ship analogy. It’s easy to turn a tug boat but when you grow to a cruise ship and want to change direction there is no quick way. We all want to give our customers an excellent experience and level of service but to survive we must guarantee that same or better level of service every time we deal with them. So how do we guarantee that the process is followed 100%?

Ever since we moved out of the cottage industries and started the industrial revolutions we started to need standards, production routines / cycles; we had to mass produce and guarantee every one the same. It is the same today,  we need to design our business to run the way we originally intended them to, create our processes and routines. We create our business plan, we understand our objectives, we learn to explain the why behind our business. Now as we define the culture within it is time to align the processes that meet all of these. Our systems run the business, our people run the systems and we lead our people, this is echoed by Michael Gerber in his book E-Myth revisited.”Organize around business functions, not people. Build systems within each business function. Let systems run the business and people run the systems. People come and go but the systems remain constant.”

With systems that we can look to if there is a problem, it prevents people looking to individuals for solutions and fostering blame cultures. Your staff are quite often growing organically with the company to try and achieve the best, by giving guidance on what is required of them and how they fit in you will get more engagement.

My advice is this: –

  1. Gather where you are now, focus on what you want then write it down in a simple flowchart or clear bullet point statements. This is the start of you overall business process and it will be high level so keep it simple and keep it visual so that everyone can understand and walk the process.
  2. Add the detail ensuring you capture who is responsible, the inputs needed at each stage and what the outcomes are. Make sure you concentrate on your internal customers and staff relationships to make the interfaces as smooth as possible.
  3. Question the status quo. Does everyone have the resources needed to do their job as efficiently as possible, is there a better way of working?

How often when we find time to reflect and focus on the business do we end up saying “this is not quite how I imagined things working”? You spend a lot of time focusing on your business so challenge yourself today on how you can shape the future with dedicated systems.

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