Saturday, November 22, 2008

Quality is about People

My passion is Quality. I started my 3M career 27 years ago as a Quality Assurance engineer. Early in my career I understood the need for data-based decision making, and the power of Statistical Thinking to ask the right questions to gain insight about the context by which the data were collected. The fundamental concepts of Statistical Thinking, as defined by the ASQ Statistics Division, are:
· All work occurs in a series of interconnected processes
· All processes have variation
· Knowledge and proper management of variation are keys to success

Early in my career Quality was all about the tools – the technical side of change; whether the program of the year was TQM, COPQ, SPC, ISO, MBQNA, Six Sigma, Lean, etc. However, through the years I have come to appreciate that while stable processes are indeed important to predictable, repeatable results, Quality is fundamentally about People. Employee engagement and customer focus are the real drivers to continual improvement, innovation and growth for sustained business success. People must commit to and be involved in the change process; an organization must mobilize their employee’s hearts and minds in order to embrace change and become adaptive and nimble.