“Our Quality Processes Are Compliant With Industry Standards, And So We Expect Very Few Errors and Defects” (Myth 7)

When it comes to quality, having systems in place is good and important. All too often, though, companies are over-reliant on procedure.

This means that when problems do arise, rather than looking for the root cause, the focus is on re-working, replacing, and repeating the job. This costs time, materials and money, and is bad for morale and stress levels.

To make matters worse, because the focus is in the wrong place, the problem doesn’t get fixed. I’m going to show you that, just because all the right procedures are in place, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everything must be okay.

Here’s what it looks like. …

Your quality system is perfectly set-up. You are meeting the industry or international standard, with everything being thoroughly documented and well-presented. The process seems flawless.

Auditors love your procedures, but you are still having problems with errors and defects. Your quality system is not being translated to the shop floor. The behaviours that ensure quality are not being practised. Why not?

In my experience, the likelihood is that it is either because they are not understood or they are not realistic, which leads to your systems being unsustainable.
Understanding Why

It is easy to think that quality specialists are the people responsible for looking after quality. It is their problem and their job to ensure everything is perfect.

But is it really just their job? Or are they there to provide the methodologies, tools and practices, and to support the process through training and coaching?

They are there to verify and validate the quality of the product or your service and not to be the first point of contact to safeguard quality or rectify any defects.

How many times have I heard employees saying that they have a quality problem, so call in the quality team to fix it or get their approval to confirm that what they want to do is acceptable. A good quality specialist will guide people to help them work out how to fix the problem, and a bad quality specialist will just tell them what to do or do it themselves.

Another side to this problem is that some quality specialists feel they are indispensable and cannot let go of their process. They want to be called in to fix everything.

While they may be expected to fix things on a hands-on level from time to time and should not be completely removed from this process, they should be focussing more on coaching and training people in how to solve the problems themselves, with the goal of “fixing it forever,” rather than having people relying on the specialists and not thinking for themselves about how to create solutions.

If you want your business to function in an optimal way, it is important to recognise that everyone is responsible, and everyone should be contributing towards instilling quality across their processes.

It’s the same as the way a community operates. You have a police force, whose job is to uphold the law, but it is still the responsibility of everyone in the community to abide by those laws. If people don’t understand why the laws are in place, then they are much more likely to ignore them or only follow the rules when they know they are being watched.

You want your organisation to move beyond having the right processes and procedures in place to a level where this actually translates into the right behaviours that deliver good results. This means you should strategise to ensure everyone in your organisation is in charge of themselves.

You want your people to make the shift from only being responsible, which means they are doing their job, to also being accountable, both to themselves and to others, which means that they actually care about the result.

So, what is stopping your people from caring?

The checks and inspections that most organisations rely on to ensure everything is fine usually come at the end of the process. By defaulting to these quality control procedures, you are missing numerous opportunities to correct faults and flaws.