H. James Harrington
People support change as long
as it doesn’t affect them. He should change, she should
change, they should change, it should change, but me change?
Change is inevitable, and we can either lead it or be
swallowed by it. We must all change the way we work, think
and act as individuals and groups. We must:
Prevent problems rather than react to them
Focus on continuous improvement rather than simply meet
Find root causes rather than treat symptoms
Participate more and give fewer orders
Manage statistically rather than fly by the seat of our
Develop internal customer-supplier relationships
Focus management’s attention on processes rather than
Develop customer partnerships and eliminate “us vs.
Rely on teamwork
Change doesn’t come easily, particularly when it
means altering the way we think, talk and act. It requires
a lot from all of us.
During the last 20 years, management systems have evolved
through three distinct stages: total quality control, total
quality management and self-control.
During the quality control stage, companies restructured
their control systems to include all the elements of total
quality control. Many met most of the requirements outlined
in the ISO 9001:2000 series specifications for quality systems.
However, typical areas of noncompliance include properly
applying statistical process control, performing effective
design reviews, qualifying processes before they’re
released to production and certifying employees. These are
fundamental controlling parameters that must be established
before most companies move on to total quality management.
During the total quality management stage, management
embraces quality as its responsibility. In the relentless
pursuit of continuous improvement, all employees and managers
are given quality educations. The quality of support processes
is measured and assessed with the same zeal as the quality
of production processes. Management and employees effectively
use statistics to solve complex problems. Business processes
are known, understood, documented and controlled to the
same degree that manufacturing processes are. Every employee
and manager is involved with teams. Everyone is trained
to solve problems and understand statistical thinking. A
Six Sigma environment is promoted.
When management reaches the self-control phase, mutual
trust and confidence develop between management and employees.
All employees are provided with the four “T’s”--training,
tools, time and a team--and management removes all major
roadblocks to error-free performance. As a result, management
no longer needs employees or managers to check on other
employees. The quality assurance department is integrated
into manufacturing engineering, product engineering, manufacturing
Employees are provided with specific business objectives,
develop their own processes and standards, and inspect their
own work. Self-managed work teams select their own leaders,
develop budgets, determine group members and determine which
team members receive salary increases.
Management establishes an error-free performance standard
that’s accepted by everyone. Six Sigma was good but
isn’t good enough anymore; excellence and value, rather
than quality, are the focal points of the company’s
activities. Quality can be defined as doing things right
every time. Excellence is doing the right things right every
time. Error-free performance is the standard of excellence
that every organization must work to achieve. Excellence
truly is total quality.
During the total quality management stage, it was widely
accepted that more than 85 percent of all problems could
be solved only by management. In a self-controlled environment,
employees are empowered with many of the rights previously
reserved for their bosses. With this increased accountability
and knowledge, employees are able to solve 75 percent of
the problems that occur in today’s business climate.
This gives management the necessary time to focus on long-range
planning and provide recognition to the teams and individuals
who truly excel. People are rewarded based on their value
to the company, not on their length of service. Work group
bonuses, employee stock plans and profit sharing are the
rule rather than the exception.
At the end of this management evolution, the systems that
are used to manage organizations support employee self-control
and, as a result, unlock the door to organizational excellence.
H. James Harrington is CEO of the Harrington Institute
Inc. and chairman of the board of four other companies.
He has more than 45 years of experience as a quality
professional and is the author of 22 books. Visit his Web
site at www.harrington-institute.com.