7 Quality Management Principles

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5. Improvement   

An objective for any organisation should be to continuously improve.  This involves having goals set for improving the improvement of products, processes and systems throughout your organisation. In addition, and ensuring all your employees are aware of these. These improvements could be Incremental or breakthrough.

In order to identify areas of improvement, periodic assessments against set criteria of excellence can be used.  There then needs to be an established set of measures and goals that can track and guide any improvements.  It is also important to be able to recognise improvements.

Aligned with continuous improvement is the idea that prevention based activities should be put in place.  This may require all members of your organisation be provided with adequate education and training around areas such as:

  1. Problem solving
  2. Process re-engineering
  3. Process Innovation
  4. The Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle

Some of you are probably thinking that focusing on compliance is surely a good thing, right?  Aren’t we supposed to be ticking boxes?  Attending to checklists?  Making compliance a priority?  

In a word – no.  

Most of the efforts around compliance are non-value-adding for the customer.  Yes, non-value-adding.  And all of this "busy" non-value-adding work stops the very things that do create value – namely, improvement initiatives - in their tracks.  And that’s a big problem.

Quality management should be all about the customer, always.  How do you satisfy your customers, and continue to satisfy them?  By formatting spreadsheets?  By making sure your certificates are hanging on your wall?  By tidying up your filing cabinet?  Of course not.  Only continuously improving what you do to keep your customers - and thus shareholders - happy.

Improvement is what really matters.  Improvement is fun.  It’s stimulating.  It’s satisfying for you and your customers. Compliance is none of these things.

Quality Managers need to commoditise their compliance efforts and focus more of their efforts on improvement. Commoditising means to design the compliance tasks in such a way that anyone can do them.  Make it so that compliance doesn’t rely on you because you’ve got much more important fish to fry.  

By spending less time on compliance and more time on improving processes and systems, you’ll see improved productivity and increased profits.

Quality Managers need to look for problems and then try to solve those problems.  You need to get yourself into a prevention mind-set.  As quality thought-leader Phil Crosby once said: “Why spend all this time finding, fixing, and fighting when you could have prevented the problem in the first place?

In one of Mango’s webinars with Ian Hendra, an alternative approach to internal auditing was discussed.  The traditional, confrontational approach (copied from the external auditing model) is true compliance, with not a lot of good improvement activities in the mix.  Ian’s approach uses a DIME sheet to manage compliance and then to run separate improvement projects to solve the big problems.  This puts improvement back in the centre of things where it belongs, and reduces a manager’s compliance burden by replacing months and months of auditing with a single, annual, one-off activity.  

Have a look at this webinar to get a clear understanding of the value of a DIME, and seriously think about changing the way you do auditing.

 

The other Quality management Principles are: 

  1. Customer Focus 
  2. Leadership 
  3. Engagement of people 
  4. Process Approach 
  5. Improvement 
  6. Evidence based decision making 
  7. Relationship Management