Quality Culture and Why It’s Important with Marnie Williams, CMQ/OE

What I’ve learnt in my 41 years on this planet is people (in general), strive for success in life.  So why in some work environments do organizations allow for their people to fail?  Why do these same organizations focus merely on profit and not the quality of their products/services and the effectiveness of business operations?

Often, when business ideas are planned out, organizations will spend most of their time focusing on profit – which is at the end of a product/service life cycle, not the beginning.  So how does “quality culture” fit into what I’m referring to?

Quality is not only about designing and improving the quality of products or services, but also about the methods and resources organizations employ to deliver them to customers and stakeholders across their value stream.  Organizations who have a living quality culture, map out how the product or service will be manufactured or delivered prior to projecting revenues. These organizations plan how they will communicate to employees (through process) the steps to be successful and ensure their business operations are ready to deliver.  A strong quality culture means top management is committed to delivering excellence by supporting teams with resources and tools and participating in business operations mapping to ensure they recognize where roadblocks and waste occurs.

To a Quality Professional, quality culture doesn’t start at work, it’s part of who they are when they wake up in the morning until they go to bed.

Here’s a simple morning routine example:

  1. Coffee pot turns on automatically at 6:00am. Coffee cups are organized by size. There is no excess, and cups no one uses are removed from the cupboard completely.
  2. The shower only contains products used on a regular basis. There isn’t more than one for each person. And empty bottles are discarded immediately.
  3. Clothes and personal hygiene products are consistently stored in the same location (including dirty laundry) and put back in place when no longer used.
  4. Bed is made everyday, with the corners tucked in, and comforter straightened (no wrinkles).
  5. Breakfast routine is typically the same and when unexpected changes occur (i.e., yogurt brand is no longer available) time is spent on analysis (i.e., reading labels for similar heath benefits and ingredients) to ensure the change doesn’t adversely affect routine (process).

Yes – I drive my husband crazy sometimes, but you get my point!  A living quality culture means always looking for areas of waste (i.e., time, people, materials, method, etc.) and how you control it to be more efficient in all aspects of your life (personally and professionally).

Organizations need Quality Professions to be champions of continuous improvement but to be truly successful, quality needs to be front of mind for all employees. Starting from the top to the bottom and not perceived as the responsibility of quality teams only. Quality Professionals support organizations to be process focused and foster a culture of learning. It takes the right Quality Professional to encourage this mindset as part of business operations.

What makes a good Quality Professional?  Here are some key characteristics:

Characteristic Why?
Leadership Essential for driving improvement in a positive manner.
Excellent planner & communicator People listen and participate when the path is clear.
Self-motivated Following instinct and taking initiative to ‘do the right thing’ without being asked.
People orientated Focusing on stakeholder relationships to create a positive work environment and increase productivity.
Mentor/coach Leading by example, knowledge sharing, and being honest to support in growth.
Negotiation & conflict resolution skills Listening, encouraging stakeholder collaboration, and fostering win/win scenarios are key.
Grasp of the abstract Thinking outside of the box and analyzing concepts/ideas to effectively solve problems.
Understands Vision/Mission/Big Picture When Quality Professionals don’t understand the ‘why’ they lose motivation to bring value.
Strategic thinker Goal setting that aligns with the ‘why’ provides the foundation for high performance and results.
Emotional intelligence Healthy communication creates common goals across an organization specifically in change or continuous improvement implementation.
Patience Don’t give up – persistence will evolve into success over time.  Consider changing the approach when it seems impossible.

If you currently aren’t in a Quality role and the characteristics above resonate with you, I’d recommend exploring potential opportunities. Many of the best Quality Professionals are grown within the organization.

A great way to get involved in the quality community is to participate in World Quality Week November 7th to 11th.  The theme for World Quality Week 2022 is Quality conscience: Doing the right thing.  The theme provides an opportunity for organizations to reflect on how company culture and conscience can help or hinder an organization to make decisions and ‘do the right thing’ for stakeholders.

Quality culture matters to an organization’s successful implementation and delivery of their operational systems utilizing process to operate the business not people.

I encourage YOU to think about what work is done today where inefficiencies (waste) have become normalized rather then analyzed and eliminated.  Are you spending excessive time on task(s) that provide no value to your team or more importantly to the customer?  Are you constantly having to do rework or waiting for others to move from one step to the next?  Is it clear to you the process steps for the work and has this been mapped?

Hopefully you have the answers to these questions and the courage to speak up and create a quality culture personally and professionally in areas where improvement is required – take control of your success.

There is no doubt, profitability matters in an organization!  But when maintaining quality culture matters more, employees are engaged with the ‘why’ and feel empowered to participate and contribute to not only organizational success but sustainability of the business’ mission.

Marnie is Senior Manager of Quality and Inspections at RAM with over fifteen (15) years of experience in Quality Management. She is a certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence (CMQ/OE) from the American Society for Quality and has significant construction experience specifically relating to Quality Management. She exemplifies leadership through coaching and effective communication with personnel in relation to company policies, procedures, and best practices. Marnie partners with executives to enhance operational excellence. She also networks and collaborates with internal and external stakeholders to ensure innovation, productivity, and performance.

Quality Management is a key element in our business. We apply standards that exceed expectations to achieve definitive results. We maintain a Quality Management System which aids us in managing quality of each project. To learn more about RAM’s Quality Management services, click here.