Is Quality Dying a Slow Death, or Evolving Beyond Definition?

[fa icon="calendar"] Mon, Nov 15, 2010 / by Tim Lozier

Quality DeathSo after a brief break from my blog, I'm refreshed and back for more. So I thought I would start the ball rolling with a little thought-provoking (and perhaps controversial) topic:

Is Quality as we know it a dying concept, or is it evolving?

There are those who remain in the camp in which I will call “Old School.” There are those that crave the old days of Deming and Juran, and those that see their multiple Quality certifications as a badge of honor, and one that will define them as a Quality practitioner. These are the folks who hold on dearly to the concept that Quality is reserved for the few practitioners who are meant to “police” the Quality operations – a single point of contact for all of Quality.

These are those who fear Quality is dying.

Now, before you go jumping out a window, looking for a new profession, or click to another blog – hold on. There are those in this market who recognize we are in a world of change, and Quality is no longer defined within the narrow box we have always placed it in. These are the people who believe that:

Quality is undergoing an evolution, one that will not eliminate the concept of Quality, but expand it to the enterprise.

So, in this evolutionary model, what is the view of Quality? Well, Quality means different things to many people. In fact, Quality can be considered such a broad scope, that it may defy definition. However, the challenge is that Quality is defined differently throughout the enterprise, and the key to recognizing what Quality is depending on who is defining it. Here’s some of the segmentation of who Quality touches in the enterprise:

1. “In the Box” Quality: QC, QA and the like are what you would call “in the box” Quality. Simply put, it’s the folks who have Quality in their title, and live and breathe the practices that have been perfected over 60 years.

2. The Quality “Involved:” There are many areas within the organization that don’t consider themselves to be a Quality professional, but whether they like it or not, they are involved in Quality in some way or form. I am speaking of those disciplines, that, while not directly related to Quality, utilize the Quality methods and processes that exist in their Quality department. These Are:

a. EHS: Processes and practices in EHS have incredible similarity to Quality. Simply looking at the ISO standards for Environmental and Health and Safety will demonstrate how similar ISO 9000 aligns.

b. Corporate Social Responsibility: Whether human Resources, or social responsibility, the concepts of Improvement, controls, and processes are touching Quality.

c. Product Design and Development: Tell an Engineer he’s a part of Quality, and he may look at you funny, but Quality by Design is a key component of improving over product Quality, and they are quality users as well.

d. Governance, Risk, Compliance: Methods in this sector are continually borrowing from Quality, and while the terms may change, the goals are similar

e. I can go on here: IT, Supply Chain and more areas are all Quality Involved

3. The Consumers of Quality: Quality is not just in practice. There are many in the organization that consume the results of Quality and use Quality data to make decisions. C-Levels within an organization are a perfect example. While not considered a part of the Quality machine, improving overall quality as it affects the bottom line is of critical importance. Without consuming the critical Quality related data from the above areas, decisions are made much more difficult.

So, what is the future of Quality? Well, it needs to expand the vision to encompass these groups, and escape the narrow definitions of the past. We need to be able to incorporate the Quality practices and translate them into the vernacular of these involved areas, and demonstrate that Quality goes beyond a single department. Quality is everyone’s problem, and by creating a holistic vision of Quality, all areas begin to converge and recognize their role in Quality.

This recognition is the first step to the evolution of Quality, taking the concept to new heights and shaping the future of how organizations view Quality.

Topics: Quality Management ISO 9000

Tim Lozier

Written by Tim Lozier

Tim is the Manager for Marketing and Strategy at EtQ, Inc.

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