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Ryan E. Day

Quality Insider

Quality Is Not a Niche

It’s the thread that binds all industries and processes… or should be

Published: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - 10:24

I’m having that conversation with my bosses… again. I am promulgating the notion of reaching out to industries and audiences that we really aren’t engaging. However, more than once I’ve been told that the quality industry is a very narrow niche. To this I say, “Horse pucky!”

I believe this viewpoint illustrates a mindset that holds many companies back from realizing their full potential.

Quality is not a niche. Quality is not a department. It’s not an event or a seminar or a goal. Quality isn’t lean, Six Sigma, 5S, or control charts. Quality is planning, building, and serving—in any industry—as close to perfect as possible, and as near to prescribed parameters as possible. To create a quality product or service, quality must first manifest as a closely held belief, a way of doing business; quality can’t be an attitude or a feeling or a mood. If quality isn’t fundamental in a company’s entire process, it’s painfully obvious in the output.

Question one

I pose a question: What part of business is not affected by the quality invested therein? It seems a ludicrous question. Outcome is always affected by the quality of the input. Why, then, would anyone try to extricate quality and relegate it to a niche as if it were not germane to every last process, service, and product on earth?

Question two

What person in any position is not affected by quality issues? Another ludicrous question. CEOs must think in terms of, say, total quality management (TQM), engineers should be thinking in terms of design for Six Sigma (DFSS), managers would consider lean strategies, and line and floor employees are starving for a culture of quality. The janitor, for crying out loud, could be using 5S.

Question three

Is any business not affected by quality issues? Is quality a large concern for the automotive industry? Of course. Aerospace? Definitely. Health care, food production, chemical production, textiles, housing? You bet. Production, service, and entertainment personnel, and even the plumber who comes out to unstop your toilet, will talk endlessly about quality if given half a chance. Don’t think so? Ask them.

My point is that too many people within the quality industry bemoan management’s lack of true commitment to a culture of quality, yet fail to recognize their own narrow view of who is interested in all things quality.

My own viewpoint is that quality is not a separate industry at all. Quality is a way of doing things and is of concern to every conceivable industry on earth. It’s therefore integral to every form of manufacturing and service on earth.

Perhaps it’s high time we “in the industry” lead the way by unbranding ourselves as a separate industry and positioning ourselves as an invaluable arm of the companies we strive to help.

Discuss

About The Author

Ryan E. Day’s picture

Ryan E. Day

Ryan E. Day is Quality Digest’s project manager and senior editor for solution-based reporting, which brings together those seeking business improvement solutions and solution providers. Day has spent the last decade researching and interviewing top business leaders and continuous improvement experts at companies like Sakor, Ford, Merchandize Liquidators, Olympus, 3D Systems, Hexagon, Intertek, InfinityQS, Johnson Controls, FARO, and Eckel Industries. Most of his reporting is done with the help of his 20 lb tabby cat at his side.

Comments

Quality

Ryan,

Good article - thank you.

As W.Edwards Deming said "Quality is everyone's responsibility".

Regards,

David

Business Management Standards

I'm in eager anticipation when ISO 9001 is renamed to Business Management Standards.  When we can encompass the idea of running a business with all the requirements of the standard is the day that quality loses its niche and is embraced as THE way to do things.