Sunday, October 09, 2011

Quality and Business Performance Achieved Through Constancy of Purpose

In the September 2011 posting to A View from the Q, ASQ's Managing Director Laurel Nelson-Rowe asks, "Do you think companies must sometimes (often? regularly?) undergo radical organizational change or substantial economic shifts to get back to the rigorous quality systems?"  I recently completed my annual Baldrige Evaluator refresher training for the MN State Quality Award. I believe that the Baldrige Criteria contain all the elements necessary and sufficient for sustainable organizational success. The Criteria are based on key learnings adopted and synthesized from role model organizations in the following 7 categories:
  1. Leadership (120 pts)
  2. Strategic Planning (85 pts)
  3. Customer Focus (85 pts)
  4. Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management (90 pts)
  5. Workforce Focus (85 pts)
  6. Operations Focus (85 pts)
  7. Results (450 pts).
Rightfully, Results and Leadership are the two most important categories in the Baldrige Criteria. Results are the ultimate benchmark of organizational performance; Leadership is critical for sustained results.  Simply stated, leaders must lead.  The successful leader is able to create and communicate a compelling vision that unifies and aligns the organization to common goals. Authors Roger Conners and Tom Smith (Oz Principle and Journey to the Emerald City) state that leaders must create a culture and create the experiences (i.e. model the behaviors) that foster beliefs and drive actions to produce the desired results for competitive advantage.

During Laurel Nelson-Rowe's interview with Terry Woychowski, GM's VP of Global Quality & Launch, Terry shared the 3 P's of GM's emerging culture: Promise, Personal, and Performance. I agree that quality is personal. Personal accountability is enabled through an engaged workforce. Effective leaders understand the need to monitor and improve employee satisfaction and build employee engagement. Delivering the Promise is achieved through personal accountability, teamwork and aligned processes. One can often accurately assess process performance, product quality and organizational health by a site visit. For example, evidence of poor housekeeping or unsafe practices are often symptomatic of uncontrolled processes, lack of personal accountability and ineffective leadership. If an organization lacks respect for its employees, (or individuals for their peers and colleagues) then what am I to infer about its/their commitment to quality processes, products, or service?

Though I am an unabashed Ford man, I sincerely wish GM a successful comeback and sustained performance. The automotive industry is a bell-weather of the US economy.

1 comment:

  1. Constancy of Purpose
    means maintaining a focus of the important long term vision. Without constancy of purpose the rate of improvement over the long term will be greatly diminished.

    Generative Leadersship