Among the tasks I most enjoy are the annual business performance reviews I conduct with Juran Institute clients.
These reviews serve two purposes: to assess the organization's progress in improving operational performance and to help us understand how we can improve the support we provide. On occasion, I
have the pleasure of reviewing an organization that has pursued performance improvement in a logical and straightforward fashion and has achieved considerable results.
years ago, the CEO of a Juran Institute client sent a member of his executive team to explore what other organizations were doing in total quality management and to find out who might be able to
help his organization start its journey. A colleague and I assessed the organization's status and presented a three-day executive workshop based on the findings. At the end of the workshop, the
CEO asked for a plan of action and a private meeting to discuss the recommendations. Immediately after the two-hour meeting, the executive team decided to proceed.
executive team's first step was to create a quality council consisting of all members of the executive team and a newly appointed quality director. The executive team next appointed a quality
manager for each major business unit and selected facilitators to help teach, coach and support the quality teams. Within three months, they had made their selections, created the organizational
infrastructure, established goals and selected their first improvement projects. The quality council reviewed all projects. By the end of the first year, many changes had been implemented, and
the quality council began to see significant results.
The quality council discovered that many of the organization's processes, serv-ices and products needed more than just
quality improvement activities: Some needed to be replanned or even reengineered. The quality council then decided to train their team leaders and facilitators in quality planning skills and
selected a number of quality planning projects on which to begin working. Many of these projects were even more ambitious, and some resulted in major changes to work processes, products and
service offerings. One project created an entirely new product and service offering that resulted in a long-term relationship with a major new customer and a premium price contract. The
significantly enhanced value of the product and service--and the customers' willingness to pay for this value--created a new appreciation in the business unit about the bottom-line possibilities
of deploying the quality improvement and quality planning methods more rapidly.
During the progress review that year, we discussed the early successes and explored the
opportunities possible through replication of results. One of the business units has more than 100 operational sites, and many of the improvements could be replicated in numerous sites. The
possible business results shown by multiplying the savings or increased revenues by 15 (one improvement) or by 90 (another set of cost reductions and improvements in prices) increased not only
that one division head's interest in quality management, but everybody's.
The senior executives now use what they call the Strategic Business and Qual-ity Planning process to
set long- and short-term objectives and stretch goals and to deploy these goals throughout the entire organization. Results achieved in one location or in one part of a business unit form the
basis for goals across the organization. Knowing that the results can be and have been achieved, as well as how they have been achieved, has led to widespread acceptance of goals that only a few
years ago would have seemed unrealistic.
The third year wasn't easy. The qual-ity council soon discovered that the organ-ization's measurement system was inadequate to
accurately track these new goals, and the information system didn't provide timely, accurate data for decisions and progress monitoring. They realized that many of their key business processes
were not well-defined or well-managed.
Accordingly, the fourth year saw full-scale implementation of business process quality management. Each business unit identified its key
processes and selected several to redefine and radically improve. They achieved stunning results in several areas. One location has doubled (from 20% to 40%) the amount of premium-grade product
produced and has now reset its goals to include 100-percent premium production and a 20-percent productivity increase.
Now in its fifth year, the organization is continuing to
improve its measurement system by incorporating many of the ideas of balanced business scorecards and starting to train a selected number of senior managers as "black belts" to accelerate the
implementation of the changes that have achieved these results.
Sometimes, in all the hype about new concepts and tools, we forget what it takes to achieve real results. This
recent review has given me an opportunity to look back and see the leadership, the careful and logi-cal approach, and the consistency of application necessary to transform a large international
company. There are no silver bullets or quick fixes, but there are a number of methods and tools that can be used for a thoughtful, logical and rational approach to building a company that
operates in a very different way.
About the author
A. Blanton Godfrey is
chairman and CEO of Juran Institute Inc., a leading international research, consulting and training company focused on quality management. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .