Monday, April 2, 2012

"Selling" Quality

When I think of "selling Quality" as Paul Borawski described in his blog I think that what we are really trying to sell is the "Quality Department" or the "Quality Tools" or some other concept that implies an additional cost to an organization. If people understood that Quality can be free then there would be nothing to sell; anyone would want higher Quality if they didn't have to pay anything (money OR effort) to get it.

The act of selling should be redirected as an act of education. Those C-level workers need to understand that the tools to be successful have been around for decades. In fact, the two big improvement initiatives of recent times, Six Sigma and Lean, have been around for a very long time. Six Sigma is simply a consolidation and repackaging of the statistical tools first promoted by Shewhart, Deming and other quality experts since the 1920s. And Lean, while being reintroduced to America by the Japanese 30 years ago, actually started during the time of Henry Ford (read My Life and Work for Ford's early description of just-in-time, decades before the Japanese learned of it from him). No need for some consultant or expert to teach their organization (and charge exorbitant fees to do so), the knowledge is freely available; however, the will must be there to correctly use them. That's the main reason that the Japanese have been so successful, they thoughtfully and thoroughly apply the tools in everything they do. These two things, knowledge of the tools and their correct application, can lead to much success for any organization.

Our responsibility as quality professionals is to educate our superiors and peers to the free nature of quality tools and how to correctly apply them in our organizations. We need to "de-mystify" Quality and make it a part of everyone's work, including and especially the C-level workers. Once they can understand that then we can go a long way to adding more value to our organizations and society.