Six Sigma
Last Word


Performance Improvement
H. James Harrington

The Best of the Best

Emulating international quality standards improves your business.

I wrote this column on Sept. 7, 2000, as I was heading out of Montreal on American Airlines to the Asia Pacific Quality Organization Conference. Surprise, surprise; I'm not going to write about poor airline service again. Quite the contrary, I'm going to discuss the organizations and individuals that set the standards we all should emulate.

 The Asia Pacific Quality Organization (APQO) is an umbrella organization sim-ilar to the European Organization for Quality (EOQ). It brings together all of the nations' nonprofit quality-professional organizations that border the Pacific and Indian Oceans. More than 30 countries make up APQO; these include Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Malaysia, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, China, India, Mexico and the United States. The APQO headquarters is in Manila, Philippines.

 APQO established a foundation hon-oring a past president of the American Society for Quality, Walter L. Hurd Jr., to recognize the many contributions he made in establishing the quality organizations in New Zealand, Australia and the Philippines. About eight months ago, the Walter L. Hurd Foundation was established to manage APQO's awards and scholarship programs.

 About 20 months ago, the Hurd Foundation undertook a massive project to hold an international competition to identify the best quality organizations that border on the Pacific and Indian oceans. For an or-ganization to be considered for the award, it had to have already won its country's national quality award (for example, the Deming Prize in Japan or the Baldrige Award in the United States). Second, its national award committee needed to submit the organization's name as the nation's candidate for the International Asia Pacific Quality Award. A maximum of two awards can be given out every year in each of three categories: small service organizations, small manufacturing organizations and large organizations.

 Of course, this was a major undertaking, so the Hurd Foundation enlisted the help of the International Academy for Quality (IAQ), the premier organization of quality professionals. This organization has a maximum membership, controlled by its bylaws, of 70 individuals. The IAQ is designed to have 20 members, called Academicians, from each of the following regions: Asia, the Americas, Europe and Africa. Academicians are selected and elected into the Academy; an individual cannot join.

 Election into the IAQ is truly the Nobel Prize of quality honors. Past presidents of IAQ include Kaoru Ishikawa from Japan, Walter Masing from Germany and Armand V. Feigenbaum from the United States.

 This alliance focuses the skills of a number of the best quality professionals from around the world on the International Asia Pacific Quality Award project. The project team decided to use the Baldrige Award criteria for the award. This allowed them to use already-trained auditors to evaluate the applications. The national quality award committees that submitted the candidates were responsible for conducting on-site audits to validate the data used in the submittal. A slightly different twist on the award is that three levels were established:

  Level 1--High Quality Recognition

  Level 2--Outstanding Quality

  Level 3--Best of Class


 Of all of the submittals, only five received an award this year. All five attained Level 2; no organization reached Level 3, but one of the organizations came extremely close. Each will be provided with feedback on its strengths and weaknesses. The awards were presented on Sept. 11, 2000, in Scottsdale, Arizona. The examining board believes that many of the organizations can improve enough during the coming year to compete for the Best of Class Award next year. The organizations that received the Outstanding Quality Award are as follows:

  Thuy Khue Shoes Co.

  Vinausteel Limited

  Keppel Land Watco Co. Ltd., Saigon Centre

  Subang Jaya Medical Centre

  Lembaga Tabung Haji


 I'm disappointed that no U.S. organization reached an award level. I hope this will change next year.

 These awards represent a significant breakthrough. For the first time, an approach has been developed that builds upon the quality award structure in use in many different nations to highlight the region's quality leaders. This award encompasses four of the world's continents and more than 70 percent of the world's population. Simply by combining the International Asia Pacific Quality Award winners with the European Quality Award winners in a competition to define the best organizations, a World Quality Prize would be created. It would identify the true "best of class."

 If you would like more information about the award, please visit APQO's Web site at www.qil.com/apqo/ahome.html , or send an e-mail to hjh@dsldesigns.net .


About the author

 H. James Harrington is COO of Systemcorp, an Internet-software development company. He was formerly a principal at Ernst & Young, where he served as an international quality adviser. He has more than 45 years' experience as a quality professional and is the author of 20 books.

 Harrington is a past president and chairman of the board of both the American Society for Quality and the International Academy for Quality. E-mail him at jharrington@qualitydigest.com . Visit his Web site at www.hjharrington.com .

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