Quality and Great Leadership

When I lecture on Quality the first thing I do is ask my students, ‘so what is quality’? Quality means meeting expectations, quality means fit for purpose, quality means conforming to specifications.   Quality also means more features and features that are free from trouble.  Then I ask, ‘so how do we ensure quality’?  We certainly do not ensure quality by testing or inspection.  By the time we get to testing it is too late.  Generally, most often, perhaps I should quantify this statement by saying 80% of the time,  a defect is corrected only for more defects to be raised.  The panic sets in as projects run out of time.  The users who are conducting User Acceptance Testing (UAT) find exponentially more defects than those found in the test environment.  The users now mistrust the solution.  The users are dissatisfied.  The individual, the team, the organisation looks for the scapegoat instead of looking for the causes.  There are many causes.   Who is to blame? Testing is too late.

Quality is about Preventing Errors in the Process. Whether you look at PMBoK, Prince2, Six Sigma or any other best practice for that matter, Prevention is the key to quality!

  • Are you, the project manager, fit for purpose?
  • Do you, the project manager, conform to best practice standards?
  • Are you, the business analyst, the engineer, the fitter, the turner, the welder, fit for purpose?
  • Are you using the right tools because the cost of quality is the cost of non-conformance?
  • Are your processes and tools fit for purpose or has the organisation just implemented processes that everyone ducks around just in order to get their jobs done?
  • Do you have a can do, must do, will do culture where individuals and teams collaborate and interact and conduct regular retrospectives to ensure continuous small improvements weekly or biweekly.

How do we prevent errors in the process?

This all goes back to having Great Leadership!  Great leadership includes talent leadership, team leadership, change leadership, emotional leadership, communication skills, critical thinking, strategic thinking, decision making and a drive for results.

Deming wrote a book called ‘Out of the Crises’ originally published in 1982 which lays down 14 points to quality.

  1. Institute leadership
  2. Institute on the job training
  3. Constantly improve the entire system forever
  4. Stop depending on inspection to implement quality
  5. Take on leadership for change
  6. Drive out fear
  7. Breakdown barriers between individuals, teams, departments
  8. Institute a vigorous program for self- improvement and education
  9. Remove barriers that rob employees of pride
  10. Eliminate work standards this is a substitute for leadership
  11. Eliminate slogans aimed at the workforce it’s the system that is causing the problems
  12. Put everyone in the organisation to accomplish change
  13. Don’t award business based on price, award based on long term relationships of trust and loyalty
  14. Create constancy of purpose towards improvement

An extract from Deming’s book page 148 “Quality control can never replace management’s fundamental responsibility to redefine its role and rebuild corporate culture”.

A further extract that I would like to share with you is that “A leader, instead of being a judge, will be a colleague, counselling and leading his people on a day to day basis, learning from them and with them”. Page 117


Post by: Charmaine Allen (Executive Counsel)

East Rand Business Directory | Alberton, Bedfordview, Benoni, Boksburg, Brakpan, Edenvale, Germiston, Kempton Park

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