Why Manage Better?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The World Needs a More Global Quality

Why Should Quality “Go Global”? Asks Bill Troy, ASQ CEO in a recent blog post. Now this is an interesting question. I would expect Bill to ask ‘Why should ASQ go global?’, but he is asking why quality should go global. I know both are linked but quality is bigger than ASQ. ASQ is a key voice of quality. And there are others too.

In the post Bill has suggested that ASQ was always more global than its stated position. It has had members and offices outside of the USA. I partly buy that argument. While ASQ had members and offices outside of the USA it wasn't thinking about them seriously enough. The tide turned only when the revenue and membership in business showed no signs of growth. There is nothing wrong with that though. Most businesses look for other territories or products only when the current ones slow down.

So, why should quality ‘go global’? I think quality is fairly global already. It is taught and practiced all over the world – the developed, the developing, and the under-developed. It is applied across sectors. Quality has helped a variety of professionals and sometimes they don’t know this. Does this mean we don’t have any scope for improvement? Of course not. A key principle of Quality is that ‘there is always some scope for improvement’. In the case of Quality there are a lot of new frontiers and some old ones need to be reinforced.

Quality needs a major push in Healthcare and Education. Especially in the developing world.

Quality of education determines what our children are going to practice as they grown up. If children see and experience how ‘anything can be improved’ and ‘how to do things right the first time’ they will have an excellent foundation to build upon irrespective of the profession they choose to pursue. Some argue that Quality needs to be in the curriculum early in schools. I think ‘practicing quality’ is more important than ‘teaching quality’. Consider this. A teacher comes late for a quality class, is un-prepared, doesn't excite the students, has no improvement in teaching methods, the examinations don’t assess knowledge and application. You get the idea – Practicing is more important than teaching.

Also, quality awareness for students needs to be done in schools. With help from Noel Wilson of ASQ I have developed a two hour awareness module for school students. The module called – Right To Quality – talks about how we have a right to quality only if we do our own job well. We have presented this at two schools and covered about 200 students. Another 500 are scheduled. We don’t only teach quality in this session but give examples and stories and ideas on how students can use quality in their lives. Hoping we make a dent in the universe.

Quality in healthcare determines how we take care of the medical needs of a large population. Quality is critical in healthcare. Poor quality leads to more deaths! Again, just as in education, we need more practice than teaching about quality in healthcare. The principles and methods for quality in healthcare are all there. They have to be practices. Organizations such as Joint Commission International (JCI) and the NABH in India need to be more aggressive in reaching out to more hospitals. Simple Lean methods can help reduce time taken to serve a patient (customer). Again, more practicing than teaching.

What are the new areas for quality? I think the government sector in developing countries and the legal justice system. Both these sectors have huge cost of poor qualities and very little yield. Perfect for applying quality principles.

In most developing countries government offices are notorious for being too slow and not getting anything done. People have to visit several times for the same job to be done. They often have to bribe. Everything takes longer. The cost of consumers taking leave to get things done is huge for a nation. And no one is counting. The legal justice system is even more painful. I can’t even write against them as I may be pulled up for contempt of the courts!

And finally, does ASQ need to go Global? Like Deming said – It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.

I have written earlier about making ASQ truly global. I am convinced that ASQ is ‘wrong’ in going slow in its international expansion. Too slow. Other organizations such as PMI are faster. For example, there is a large population of quality professionals in India that need to be reached out to. By keeping its fee very USA centric ASQ is missing out on all these professionals. Changing the fee structure is the inflection point for ASQ’s global growth.

In summary, both ASQ and Quality have to go global. ASQ has to and is best positioned to be the global voice of quality.