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 Phil's Journal

Phil's Journal


by Philip B. Crosby

The Integrity of Transactions

What makes an organization successful? Is success predictable? How about individuals? After all, they each embody organizations in themselves. How do they achieve success? Who or what makes it happen? I've always considered it my personal responsibility to make something of my career. Assuming a company would take care of me, which is an outdated attitude, provides much room for nonachievement. The approach that worked for me -- concentrating on usefulness and reliability -- will work for others, too. I thought an explanation of that approach might prove helpful.

Let's begin with the organization itself and define its purpose. Actually, every organization has exactly the same purpose: providing a solution to needs. The needs originate with owners, customers, employees, suppliers, regulators, the community and all that touches the organization. And don't forget that your career represents the work of an organization -- namely yourself.

Someone in the hotel business would define a customer's need as a comfortable place to sleep, eat, phone, watch TV and so forth. People involved with medicine, airlines, widgets or whatever also must determine their specific needs. The correct assessment makes them useful. By extension, a useful individual understands all this and can bring it about for their employer.

Once you define your organization's needs, you must create the requirements that describe how you will meet those needs. The hotelier will describe the hotel room and supporting services. He or she must decide on the number of bed sheets, the thickness of walls, check in, reservations, room service and wake-up calls.

Requirements don't accomplish themselves; they each require numerous transactions, the thousands of actions necessary to accomplish the work of the organization. Transactions include everything from answering the phone, to buttering the bread, to paying the bills. Useful and reliable employees and suppliers know how to accomplish transactions correctly and offer ways to do them even better.

All of these transactions contribute to quality management, which means deliberately establishing an organizational culture where all transactions are completed exactly as agreed, and where relationships with those who have the needs are successful. All of this becomes policy. Zero defects, for instance, is a performance policy, not a slogan as some believe. Quality itself means conformance to requirements; it doesn't mean goodness. Goodness gets described in the requirements and transactions.

Quality assurance is a collection of procedures describing requirements and transactions. The ISO 9000 series offers valuable help in constructing this information. Quality control represents the measurement of compliance to requirements.

When an organization includes integrity in its transactions, it can count on a reputation for reliability. The combination of usefulness and reliability produces success. Think about that personally. Those who follow the conventional-wisdom path will reach a certain successful plateau but will go no farther. Hopping on the ISO 9000 bandwagon won't enable your employer or client to deal with customer needs. ISO 9000 standards describe a set of requirements that have nothing to do with your organization's purpose. You may as well play a round of golf with one club.

There is no need to limit yourself.

On another subject, I'm delighted to report that PCA II now offers a full set of courses in the Quality College, with classes scheduled in Winter Park and elsewhere.

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.


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