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Quality & You

The Quality Habit

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    [post_content] => Did you know that people have been trying to define “quality” for more than a thousand years? I found one of the earliest attempts by the Greek philosopher Aristotle from his text the “Nicomachean Ethics.”

Here is where Aristotle calls out the virtues of excellence: “Formed in man by his doing the actions, we are what we repeatedly do… excellence in a complete life… [is what] makes a man blessed and happy.” 

The conclusion? Quality is not an act, but a habit.

The first step to acquiring any habit is through repetition. For quality, this means continuously pursuing everything that we believe is excellent. Moreover, it requires total dedication – from you and everyone around you.

Before we can take these first two steps, we must accept quality as personal responsibility. That’s the essence of people power – a process propelled by rational thinking passed down from ancient times—from Aristotle no less!

Attaining quality requires the dedication of the whole universe of stakeholders – people with whom you interact and frequently communicate; every supplier and distributor as well as every manager and frontline worker and, of course, your friends and family.

The quality habit belongs to anyone who decides to embark on the path to excellence. I believe that’s what Aristotle meant when he wrote “we are what we repeatedly do.” But what happens after that?

When people adopt the quality habit, other people notice. People who lead—whether it’s a team at work or the family at home—have a special duty to reinforce that message constantly. They must deliver the message in every meeting and encounter they have and by walking the talk, demonstrating their commitment to quality in their lives. If not, who do they follow? Without such a leader, who will answer the call for quality?

The best leaders of quality make sure that everyone has a chance to speak his or her mind. They sharpen the focus on quality by example. They are the cheerleaders, but they are also the collaborators. Leaders and followers alike must believe that, in the end, the pursuit of quality applies to all the people, all the time.

Quality also means having an “I-can-do-it” mentality. If you treat a co-worker or your spouse like a child, don’t expect them to behave like an independent-minded, responsibility-seeking adult. There’s a direct connection between empowering people with confidence and support, and their attitudes towards believing in and improving quality.

Quality is unique to everyone. There’s no such thing as “one size fits all” in quality. It’s always tempting to look for a policy or a procedure that can be applied across the board to situations to fix a quality problem. Sure, it would make life so much simpler. But let’s be real. When has that ever worked on a sustainable basis?

Whether it’s fixing an issue or making something as perfect as we can, the maintenance of quality requires adjustments in the process that evolves with specific needs for each situation. Even though hammers and screwdrivers are handy tools, you wouldn’t try to tighten a screw with a hammer or straighten a piece of metal with a screwdriver. The way you’ve always handled a situation in the past may not be appropriate or realistic because circumstances are different.

I don’t like using cliché terms because they tend to trivialize meaning, but in this case quality truly requires “out of the box” thinking; creative applications of old ideas, or new approaches that produce better solutions. Once you get a better understanding of how to deal with and understand what quality is, you’ll see how having a quality mindset helps you arrive at the best solution for any given situation.
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Did you know that people have been trying to define “quality” for more than a thousand years? I found one of the earliest attempts by the Greek philosopher Aristotle...

Quality & Economics

Cutting Corners

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    [post_content] => Over the last 50 plus years, Toyota has led the automotive industry in quality and cost. As a result, the company rose to become the world's largest automotive manufacturing corporation and Japan's largest corporation with revenues of $230 billion in 2009.

However, this once untarnished icon of Japan's status as an economic powerhouse, is now in decline and the impact on the company and the entire country is tangible.

As Dr. Masatomo Tanaka says, a professor at the Institute of Technologists, a university that specializes in training engineers, "If Toyota is not healthy, then Japan is not healthy." As goes Toyota, so goes Japan.

Toyota has long enjoyed near hallowed status in Japan as the greatest practitioner of "monozukuri," a centuries-old ideal of perfection in craftsmanship central to ancient pottery and sword-making.  The pride of craftsmanship, burned into Japanese culture as the apex of accomplishment, was turned loose on the factory floor and was once the secret to Japan's postwar "miracle."

Then something changed. Yes, the earthquake and tsunami last year was a serious blow to Japanese manufacturing, but the decline at Toyota was clear long before the natural disaster. About the time the company achieved its global dominance, rumors began to filter out that management was cutting corners on quality – fewer people on the factory floor, lower quality raw materials and suppliers, reductions in research and development.

[pullquote]Shaving a few dollars off the cost of each car has resulted in billions of dollars in recall costs, not to mention the billions of dollars in legal costs the company has incurred from lawsuits filed by customers and government regulators – and in a few cases, possible loss of life.[/pullquote]

The result has been devastating. Shaving a few dollars off the cost of each car has resulted in billions of dollars in recall costs, not to mention the billions of dollars in legal costs the company has incurred from lawsuits filed by customers and government regulators – and in a few cases, possible loss of life. The damage has also been broadly felt: dealerships have lost sales, negatively impacting local economies, and for a time Toyota’s global position fell. But Toyota’s once unblemished record of quality is now questioned in the media and among many customers.

To compound matters, as Toyota moved away from quality, some of its competitors have moved in. Some have embraced their earlier methods to the extent that their products are now surpassing Toyota. Korea's Hyundia-Kia is rapidly gaining on once dominant giant and Detroit's big three have partly adopted Toyota's engineering and manufacturing methodologies and improved their quality as well.

Toyota had the quality mindset before it become the largest corporation in Japan and the largest automotive company in the world.  The company’s actions proved that quality can be the principle driver of efficiency and profitability, but also market dominance. Now the company is learning a new lesson about what happens to giants when they cut corners too often.
    [post_title] => Cutting Corners
    [post_excerpt] => Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are? Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence? 
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Over the last 50 plus years, Toyota has led the automotive industry in quality and cost. As a result, the company rose to become the world's largest automotive manufacturing...

Quality & Process

Ideas into Action

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    [post_date] => 2015-04-28 01:07:59
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    [post_content] => It’s one thing to inspire people to come up with ideas to improve the level of quality in your organization. It’s yet another thing to encourage those same people to turn their ideas into action.

When you are nurturing the talent in your organization, this may be one of the management challenges you will face.

You could do what a friend of mine did. He got a poster of Auguste Rodin’s sculpture “The Thinker” and attached a sign to it: “This is an Idea”. He then picked up another poster, Antoine Bourdelle’s “Hercules, the Archer” and attached another sign: “This is Action.” Above both posters, he hung a bigger sign: “Which would you rather be?”

What a powerful contrast of images – a man sitting and thinking, and a warrior archer at the very moment of commitment. Everyone wants to be seen as the one who takes action, but do we want people shooting arrows everywhere without thinking?

When you start a quality revolution, remember that everyone works at their own pace. Some people will take longer to come up with the one idea that is remarkable; the one that changes everything. People will be as bold as you want them to be, and you can be enthusiastic and encouraging, but there will still be barriers. The questions you need to ask—and answer— are the following:
  • What will you do to help people overcome barriers?
  • What will you do to encourage them to be disciplined and dedicated to the organization’s mission?
  • How will you encourage them to integrate quality into everything they do?
The first thing you need to do is embrace positivity. Positivity means more than putting on a happy face—it means encouraging people by getting them excited about their prospects. Positivity means participating in discussions, offering suggestions, and – above all – showing that you are interested in outcomes. From a leadership perspective, positivity means motivating someone else, and giving them a reason to be enthusiastic about their ideas and to take decisive action. You can also show people what it means to embrace a challenge. Some managers I know love to use stories about athletes and coaches. Some others might tell stories about inventors like Thomas Edison or Henry Ford. Lately, I’ve begun to use my own life to show how passion has helped me overcome challenges. From my early years in Bangladesh, I had to struggle to overcome severe economic and social obstacles. My mentor during those early days was my maternal grandfather. One day, he offered me a ten taka note (about ten dollars) and a plain ballpoint pen. He told me to pick one, and he would give it to me. I picked the money. He gave me the money but then said, “Don't go for money. Always go for the pen. With the pen, you can create knowledge. If you have knowledge, then you can lead the world.” There’s more to raising enthusiasm about quality than just excitement. How would you like to be treated? What would motivate you? If you engage this work seriously; if you are honest with yourself and your honesty permeates your organization, your workforce talent will emerge and bloom—and amazing things will happen [post_title] => Ideas into Action [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => ideas-action [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-10-11 01:09:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-10-11 01:09:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://subirchowdhury.com/?p=1419 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )
It’s one thing to inspire people to come up with ideas to improve the level of quality in your organization. It’s yet another thing to encourage those same people...

Quality & Me

Maruti-Suzuki and the Quality Way

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    [post_date] => 2015-05-19 12:07:34
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    [post_content] => PIC_chowdhury-C4Q-1Quality is defined by the customer. It happens when we are willing to listen to each other, enrich our experiences, and optimize our opportunities to improve. Quality comes when we have a mindset for honesty, integrity, resistance to compromise, and ethical behavior. What we want is for quality to be an automatic response to everyday encounters. When this mindset becomes part of the organization's DNA - its very essence - then we can say that Quality is everyone's business.

Please complete the form below. You will be emailed seminar materials that will help you along the way to achieving a Quality Mindset. Cause for Quality is a collection of essays that Subir Chowdhury has written to help guide the way.

sc-app-pg1You may also want to check out Subir Chowdhury's iPad app. Click the image and you'll be taken to Apple's download site. The app is compatible only with iPad.

 


Please complete the form below. Your copy of Cause for Quality will be sent to you via email. [contact-form-7 id="1356" title="maruti_suzuki_meeting"] [post_title] => Maruti-Suzuki and the Quality Way [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => maruti-suzuki [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-05-21 17:47:03 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-05-21 17:47:03 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://subirchowdhury.com/?p=1358 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )
Quality is defined by the customer. It happens when we are willing to listen to each other, enrich our experiences, and optimize our opportunities to improve. Quality comes when...