Quality Management – It’s Not as Bad as You Think

Over my career, there have been many Quality Management mantras. We had Total Quality Management (TQM), various Continuous Quality improvements, Lean, and Six Sigma. Each had a slice of how to interpret and manage the quality of a business, taking a systems approach. These approaches to quality management also have a bad reputation when taken to extremes; when these quality initiatives out-size the problem they intend to improve. That is why one CEO I worked for agreed to introduce Six Sigma, but he didn’t want any “Black Belts,”  to limit it to something unobtrusive.

Quality management has had a sort of cult-like following too. When ANSI issued its first draft American interpretation of ISO-9000, it was rejected for being full of TQM practices telling businesses how to affect quality systems. Instead, ISO-9000 is to define the scope of quality systems. It is also something that gets confused with the Quality Assurance team of a business. The point of ISO-9000 was that everyone, at all levels and in all areas, owned quality management.

Quality management training, including Operations Research methods, is a basic skill for managing a business, or team. In a word, the purpose is “consistency.” How reliable and credible are you, your team, or the business in producing results and outcomes? Having the knowledge, skills, and abilities to step back and see the business as a system and understand how it operates. From this, you fix broken links, you play your strengths, and fix systemic issues instead of repeating mistakes indefinitely.

The benefit of being aware of quality management practices and analytical methods is it gives leaders the calculus to make informed decisions and should be part of your general business acumen.

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