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Establish A Quality Culture

“Do it right the first time!”

How many of us have heard this from scolding mothers standing over us as we went back to redo a chore that we blew off with a lick and a promise the first time around?

How many executives have wished they could bring in their mothers to emphasize the same point to their employees?

American products have regained much of the competitiveness they frittered away before they embraced the concept of Total Quality Management. Before quality became the buzz word in every progressive work place, the typical American company wasted 40% of its resources redoing things that were done wrong the first time. The average employee spent only 35% of the work day doing the work or adding value to the job.

If your company comes too close to those figures, it’s time to put quality at the top of your priorities list. You do this by putting quality into your product instead of adding it on.

To accomplish that, a company must establish a quality culture that makes everyone from CEO to the lowliest hourly worker responsible for putting value into the product.

Employees must be educated to see their jobs not as machine operators or order processors, but as value adders. They must adopt an attitude that puts quality first and refuses to accept second-rate results.

Companies with successful quality cultures stress prevention instead of inspection and correction. Studies show that a dollar spent on prevention is worth $10 spent on inspection and correction.

Don’t base your quality strategy on the big breakthrough. Quality comes from a steady stream of little improvements. Over time, these have a major impact.

Quality efforts should be linked to the bottom line. If you’re going broke making improvements, you’re not doing yourself any good, and you’re not helping your customers in the long run, because bankrupt companies can’t provide long-term services.

Successful improvements don’t have to spring from rocket science. L. L. Bean, which sells paraphernalia for outdoors people, found that it could significantly improve the speed and accuracy of its shipping department by stocking high-volume items close to packing stations.

You can come across similar ideas by benchmarking – examining the methods of another business that does things right and establishing its methods as your minimum standard.

Quality comes from practicing the fundamentals. Look for the things that add value, look for ways to simplify, and look for ways to move faster.

Do these things, and you’ll make Mother proud.

copyright Nido R Qubein
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