The Innovator’s Field Guide: Making Quality Personal

Almost all quality improvement comes via simplification of design, manufacturing … layout, processes, and procedures.” -Tom Peters

Does the phrase “process quality” make your head spin? Do acronyms like ISO, TQM, PDCA, BPR, and OQM and the associated flowcharts and hours in hotel banquet halls watching PowerPoints make you wonder if you will ever implement the new gold standard for evaluation? Put away the checklists and certification manuals for a moment.  Let’s start off with a new acronym for any process quality procedure: KISS (Keep it simple, stupid).

Your natural inclination for certification or recertification in any of these methodologies is to run back to your team, shouting, “Here’s what we’ve got to do by X date!” 

Passing out checklists like they’re Halloween candy will only serve to overload your team. As the kids today say, “You need to slow your roll.” The first question your team members will ask is, “How am I supposed to get this done with X, Y, and Z on my plate?” Be ready to answer this question by distilling the necessary actions for each of your team members (as well as the rationale), and be proactive by providing an individual plan for each team member’s success.

Make this plan as simple as possible for your team members. Assign compliance tasks that are tangential to the work team members are already performing. Use the buddy system where possible to complement team members’ strengths and weaknesses. Above all else, your individual plans should convey the tangible benefits each team member will receive by implementing the process quality procedures– improved efficiencies, increased customer satisfaction, or any other trigger that will get a team member excited about the process. No one likes to view another checklist as busy work, so the folks upstairs can tout a certification.

The more you simplify the methodology and explain the rewards to your team, the easier any implementation or recertification will be. If you’re a startup and you’re thinking this particular accelerator doesn’t apply to you, know that quality, repeatable processes are critical to any scalable business or innovation. Ignore them at your peril…

Making Quality Personal Accelerators:

  • Take some time to identify the top five business processes in your business or organization that need to be improved, standardized, and documented.
  • Now, identify the various resources available from which you can learn the best way to improve, standardize, and document those critical processes.
  • Bring your team into the learning and planning process. Get them on board, tell them why, solicit their input, and work together to make these top five processes the best in the business. Once you’re done, move on to the next five, and the next five, and so on.