Thursday, January 17, 2013

21st Century Quality

13 years into what Dr. Juran said would be the "Century of Quality", ASQ CEO Paul Borawski asks in his January 2013 blog post, "What do you use as the best, most inclusive, and illuminating definition of quality?" The 2011 Future of Quality Study defines Quality as a force of change, and introduces the concept of "21st Century Quality" - Quality is ultimately what the customer says it is, and what the customer is willing to pay for. Quality today is more than product quality. Perfect product is a given. Exceptional service and transactional quality are often powerful differentiators.

  • Quality improvement is the process of managing variation around customers’ expectations.
  • Quality processes deliver brand promise, protect the enterprise, improve operational excellence, enable customer-perceived value, increase customer satisfaction.
  • Quality, then, in its simplest definition is "Total Customer Experience."
Total Customer Experience is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier over the duration of their relationship with that supplier, from awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy. Superior Total Customer Experience delivers memorable, satisfying experiences in every transaction every time. Peter Drucker, a renowned Quality Management expert reminds us, Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the customer gets out of it.”

People often ask, “How is Quality different than Lean Six Sigma?” It is my opinion that while Lean, Six Sigma, PDCA, etc. are all important problem solving and continuous methods in the Quality practitioner toolkit, Quality is much more than continuous improvement. A key role of the Quality function is to manage the organizational white spaces that exist between departments in cross-functional work systems and processes. Quality recognizes the importance of effective hand-offs between internal supplier and customers to meet and exceed end user requirements. The Baldrige Criteria offers an excellent framework that describes this holistic definition of Quality. I want you to visualize the hamburger. The bottom bun represents the organization's values and principles. The top bun symbolizes its mission, vision, strategies and plans. Lean, Six Sigma, CAPA, PDCA, PPU are the condiments. The meat, cheese and vegetables are the key business processes of leadership, strategic planning, customer focus, human capital, process management, and business results. Quality assures the alignment of these systems and processes to deliver a satisfying burger experience.

Winning in today’s highly competitive, global market requires flawless execution at the speed of the customer. Delivering Total Customer Experience requires stable and capable processes, with consistent flow, and an engaged, motivated and empowered workforce. To quote Ernst & Young, "There is little chance that your customers will be excited about your products or services unless your workers are."

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