CEO to CEO
A few months ago, a young quality manager came up to me at an event and asked for some help. I said I was prepared to assist in anything that was legal and didn't require heavy lifting. I'm not interested in getting a special prosecutor assigned to delve into my life, and weights are something my trainer makes me use at the wellness center.
She assured me that neither of these things were involved. The problem was that her managers just wouldn't take the time to understand their roles in making quality a part of their company's operating philosophy. Although they supported whatever she wanted to do and were eager to get certified to whatever would help the company prosper, they impatiently brushed aside her attempts to inform them about quality. Listening was not something they were prepared to do.
When I asked her what she would say to them if she could get them to listen, she stammered a bit and then admitted that she really wasn't rehearsed in that regard. It would take more than a few moments, anyway, she felt. I said that she could get it down to just a few moments if she utilized the "Absolutes of Quality Management" that I had publicized several dozen times. However, she persisted, saying they'd listen if the information came from me. Obviously, the probability of my talking to them face to face was virtually nonexistent. Another solution was required.
As a result of this conversation, after the event I returned home and wrote a special message for senior managers. It was only a few pages, but getting them to read and understand it was unrealistic. CEOs get a lot of paper in daily life. We needed to get their attention in some other way, and that turned out to be an audiotape. We thought about a CD-ROM for a while, but a brief survey showed that few senior managers keep CD players in their offices.
So I recorded the message, which is very personal. It emphasizes the need to create organizational integrity if we are to succeed. It tells CEOs that education makes systems work, and that there is no way to buy a quality culture; it has to be installed. Management must make it happen.
Because the CEO message was short, we included excerpts from the "Let's Talk Quality" tapes. These include a couple of speeches and questions and answers from groups at the Quality College. We packaged this all onto an audiocassette and mailed it out to CEOs worldwide.
The response has been overwhelming. CEOs call and say that they understand, for the first time, what they must do in order to create quality in their organizations. As a result, we are helping them with their quality education efforts, and everyone is happy.
We will take some of the CEO to CEO tapes to our booth at ASQ's Annual Quality Congress in May. Those interested in taking one so they can hand it to their CEOs should stop by our booth at the show. Others who would like to get a tape earlier can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (800) 223-3932 and ask for one.
Even the most experienced professional, in any function, needs communication help now and then to improve his or her opportunities to grow and prosper. We must make our own way.
About the author
Philip B. Crosby, a popular speaker and founder of Philip Crosby Associates -- now PCA II -- is also the author of several books, including Quality Is Still Free (McGraw-Hill, 1995) and The Absolutes of Leadership (Jossey-Bass, 1996). Visit his Web site at www.philipcrosby.com.