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Quality Behavior Means Industrial Companies Are Doing Something Right

Oct. 14, 2014
It Sounds Odd to Say, but the Good News Is that Only 12% Self-Described Their Overall Quality Programs as World-Class.
About the Author
Joe Feeley is a former editor in chief for Control Design and Industrial Networking

Any time I come across studies conducted by respected organizations that look at the importance of safety and quality to manufacturing organizations, it's useful to point you to them.

The American Society for Quality, along with Forbes Insights, recently published the results of an April global survey of more than 2,000 executives and managers. Some 42% of the participants reside in manufacturing, technology or industrial product market segments, and a healthy chunk of the job titles were engineers, managers and quality-focused execs. So it has good representation of what many machine builders' core customer base is thinking.

It's a big study, so I only can highlight a few findings. You can download the entire study at www.forbes.com/forbesinsights/asq/index.html. Registration is required, but it's worth it.

I'll try to avoid revelations about "culture" and "vision." Well-intended to capture key organizational strengths and concepts, the words have been co-opted to mean anything anyone wants them to mean. They are the rare case in which I'd use 15 words to convey the thought rather than buzzword you.

 Also Read: Let's Talk Sense on Safety Standards

Anyway, when a company at every turn finds quality behavior is really common, it knows it's doing something right. That's in part because it's a part of the company's DNA (no better than "culture"?) and ... wait for it ... its compensation formulae. "Most companies include quality as a component of regular performance reviews," reads the report. "But world-class companies are significantly more likely to use internal awards or recognition tied to quality metrics. Companies that don't describe themselves as world-class are significantly less likely to tie personal compensation, cash bonuses or promotions to quality metrics."

It's also an ongoing battle of perception versus reality. Said another way, the evaluation of quality maturity can depend on where you sit. Some 75% of the senior or C-level titles "believe their organization exhibits a comprehensive, group-wide ["c"-word] of quality." Less than half of the respondents with quality-related jobs believe that. That's an entirely expected result.

It sounds odd to say, but the good news is that only 12% self-described their overall quality programs as world-class. Another 36% more realistically describe their quality programs  as average. That's OK if they realize that average performance probably puts them out of business at some point. If they see that as opportunity, then they're halfway there.

Speaking of quality time, that's what I'm after now. It's time to get out of Dodge and retire. Next month, a face familiar to those of you who've been with us for a while will be here. We've spent a few months working out a solid succession plan that should serve you well. I'll be out there on LinkedIn if you need to get in touch. I've enjoyed it. Hope you have, too.

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