Six Sigma
Last Word


Phil's Journal
Philip Crosby


Educational Nourishment: The Cultural Platform of a Reliable Organization

Those responsible for managing organizations have several obvious concerns, such as finance, operations, marketing and the continual development of products and services. All of these areas are visible and measurable. During the regular management review meeting, each is on the agenda for evaluation and discussion. Charts are prepared, views are exchanged, and action is assigned. MBA case histories are built around such things, and one could get the idea that this is what management has to do to run a useful and reliable organization.

 Yet all managers carry around a concern that's never seen as a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation: They worry about having their vision implemented. They know that the organization cannot grow and prosper without a vision to guide each action. They agonize about having each employee and supplier understand this vision so that they'll implement it effectively each day. They want a company that actually does what it has said it would do, in every system. This means that each transaction is accomplished correctly the first time; it means that relationships with customers, employees and suppliers are successful. In other words, management would like to have a corporate culture that makes the organization reliable.

 In trying to bring this about, management issues volumes of procedures; they have the organization certified to the latest version of ISO 9000 and even launch a formal corrective-action program. They reorganize regularly. They embrace new managerial fads in an attempt to reach their people. They're frustrated with their inability to bring everyone together in a common understanding. As the organization grows, the new people bring with them traces of the culture they left. There is a constant intermingling of ideas and actions that affect the basic operating philosophy. The result is that there is no identifiable culture. The only thing everyone has in common is the name of his or her employer.

 The basis of the solution to this enigma lies in providing each and every individual with a common language and understanding. However, most organizations have hundreds or thousands of people who are spread out all over. It would take a massive effort to bring them to conference rooms to provide the education in a timely manner. The basic philosophy must be installed quickly; we can then move to specific training and education by conventional means. But it's necessary to first make an impact. Information must be provided in a pragmatic and productive way, and it must be done throughout the system. People talk to each other around the system, so they all should receive the nutrients of the education package at the same time.

 There is a way to make this happen, and we've concentrated on creating it at Philip Crosby Associates (PCA) II. We recognized the need for what we call "educational nourishment" and have prepared four CD-ROMs that can be installed in the organizationwide network. Each of these CDs contains an interactive course that educates people on the information necessary to operate in a useful and reliable manner. Videos and skill tests make the interaction interesting. People can take the courses at their desks. To date, those who are using it have been very pleased with the way information is transmitted.

 Here is what the four CDs are about:

* Making Quality Clear. This CD concentrates on the philosophical basics of quality management, as created by Philip Crosby. The result of the course is that performance ceases to be vague and unmeasurable and becomes specific and achievable.

* Problem Solving. How to define problems and eliminate them forever. PCA clients have proved the five-step system in every industry.

* Identifying Requirements. Quality is about conforming to requirements, but we must learn how to create them properly so they can be clearly understood. Then we can identify the transactions necessary to provide the results desired.

* Calculating the Price of Nonconformance. Most companies spend 25 percent of their revenue on unreliable activities. This includes doing things over, paying for warranty, customer service, contested accounts receivable and other components. Using this CD, individuals, departments, divisions and companies can reduce these costs dramatically.


 This "educational nourishment" package builds the platform for management to begin introducing long term policies and requirements; as new people join the organization, they can be brought quickly into the common management philosophy. In this day of acquisitions, this is extremely valuable in bringing the organization together. Instead of stumbling around trying to understand each other, employees can get right down to the work of merging their operations and businesses. There will be no more "them" and "us."

 "Nourishment" is usually about providing the proper nutrients to make the body healthy. In this case, we're talking about organizational health. Problems are prevented, costs are reduced and everyone works together because they have this common understanding. Other CDs, such as Measurement, are in preparation to provide continual and useful updating. Training and education for all levels of employees and suppliers is available for use after the platform is constructed.

 For a useful and reliable organization, it's necessary to take the actions that make everyone's personal responsibility clear.


About the author

 Philip B. Crosby, a popular speaker and the founder of Philip Crosby Associates--now PCA II--is also the author of several books, including Quality and Me: Lessons from an Evolving Life (Jossey-Bass, 1999). To order a number of products, visit his Web site at www.philipcrosby.com  or call (800) 223-3932. .

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