Why Manage Better?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Do quality practices block innovation?

It is often commented that quality practices and systems actually stifle creativity and innovation.Do they? Last week on our QualityNet network N K Sharan asked if Company wide Innovation can't be driven through current Quality or Business excellence practices (They are more biased towards continuous improvement.)

Thought provoking I must say. Here is how answered this question.

Like in most cases it all depends on how we define quality, excellence and 'driven'. Without getting into hair-splitting I tend to agree with what you say. Innovation is driven in most cases by stretch goals, fear of extinction, or individual spirit. Once the spark is lit it can be driven company wide. It would still remain a bit dependent on individual drive.

I believe if we need our company to be innovative we need to hire people who are innovative and reward innovation appropriately. I don't think people can be made innovative by attending a workshop or training. They can try but they won't be as good as the ones who get in naturally. It is how we were made and there is no good in fighting it.

So in summary, yes, company wide innovation can't be driven through quality or business excellence practices (as we understand them today).

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Is Top Management Committment Overhyped?

Earlier this week I was tempted to answer a question on LinkedIn.com. The question was around – what is the most important and first step in implementing a QMS. Don’t worry, I am not answering this question now. While scanning the answers to this question I could see a pattern. Most of the answers were avoiding the typical ‘top management commitment’ kind of response. This is a welcome sign.

My two cents of this ‘top management commitment’ pre-requisite to everything. I think it is overhyped. It's an easy way for a quality professional to push blame on top management. It is the quality professional's job to prove that he or she deserves the support. Top management just has too many things on the radar – what are we doing to SHINE?

All you can and should pray for is a top management that is not ‘anti’ whatever you are trying to do. You can win support as you move deeper into the project. But it’s very tough to change a completely 'anti' person to a 'pro' one.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Obituary: Dr. J M Juran, Quality Guru Forever

Dr J M Juran peacefully trans-migrated on 28 February. He was in goodhealth at 103 years. He was and will remain a collosal figure in management. May his soul find the peace it so richly deserves. Our collective task is now to keep his work alive. He is survived by his wife who will be 103 in March and a large family of children, grand and great grand children.


J M Juran - Quality colossus and rare gem of a human being. His life is an institution.
In Mahabharatha (Grand India), an Indian mythological epic, there is a story about the royal instructor for practice of arms, Dronocharya (considered the best coach ever) not being able to teach a poor disciple for lack of time. The poor disciple, Eklavya, retreats to a jungle and places a mud and thatch replica of his guru and practices every day. The presence of the mud and thatch replica of Drona is so powerful that Eklavya actually acquires the skills of a master archer.
While the story goes on, the key lesson is that people can learn from even a true master's statue. JMJ has had a similar effect on millions.

For an official statement from the Juran Institure and ASQ please visit http://www.asq.org/juran/institute-statement.html

Dr. Joe DeFeo, President at Juran Institute has set up a blog for all who want to offer their tribute to the departed soul. The institute will send a recent picture of JMJ to all who log their comments on the post. Please see http://drjuran.blogspot.com/2008/03/tribute-to-dr-juran.html

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Declining Credibility of ISO 9000 Certifications

A friend and fellow Business Excellence Professional, Ramesh Rajagopal, recently asked a very troubling question - Who is responsible for declining credibility of ISO 9000 systems and what is the solution?

He further elaborated saying – In the recent years, ISO 9000 standards is losing its credibility. What role Accreditation bodies, Certification bodies, Top Management and Management Representatives have to play to bring back the spirit of ISO 9000.

Firstly, blame is the wrong word to start with. Why do we have to ‘blame’ someone? We are assuming that ISO 9000 had promised us something huge and delivered a lemon. From what I know, that’s not the case.

It’s critical to understand that ISO 9000 series was developed as a bare minimum standard for management. It did not promote excellence. That was left for the MBNQA.

Having said that I agree that all of us have failed in even maintaining the bare minimum status of ISO 9000. Quality professionals and auditors (all of us) have taken the convenient route guided by business compulsions. I have failed to understand how an auditor is expected to be truthful and strict when he/she is aware that any adverse remark will ensure his/her firm loses business. There are very few clients who will force the auditor to do a good job.

Another issue is around auditor skills. A lot of auditors I have met are just not upto the mark. They are sometimes too inexperienced and other times too rigid. Most auditors have still not made any effort to understand the business context of the client and go about ISO 9000 in a generic way. No wonder, most NCs are around documentation even now when the standard actually asks for only six mandatory documents.

What can be done?
1. Firstly the ISO and Accreditation bodies have to acknowledge that there is a problem that needs to be fixed. The ISO has long lived in an ivory tower taking a position that it only defines the standard and has no say in certification.
2. Then, develop a credible panel of certification agencies and auditors. A peer review process should admit the auditor into a select pool.
3. Consider building an online international database of companies seeking certification. If a company is denied certification by one agency, no other agency can pick it up for next one year. Of course all this will need a grievance panel etc.
4. Carry out a communication drive to disengage ISO certification from excellence.

Now, who is going to bell the cat? This is like our parliament. The people who need to be reigned in are the ones who are making the rules. Will the quality community rise to curb the commercial temptation around certification to look at the real issues?

You can read other answers at: http://www.linkedin.com/answers/business-operations/quality-management-standards/OPS_QMA/159702-15699003