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Quality & You

Resistance to Compromise

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    [post_content] => In the food profession, Chantal Coady is a superstar. How did she get there? Chantel was never satisfied with anything until it was perfect—good enough was never enough. She was always passionate about chocolate, even as a child. When she was old enough to work, Chantel took a part-time job in the chocolate department at Harrod’s, the famous department store in London.

According to Chantel, she was “underwhelmed” by the presentation and the lack of emotional engagement from both her colleagues and management. She did a lot of thinking and came up with an idea. Armed with limited financing, she decided to leave Harrods and open her own shop. It was called Rococo Chocolates. Chantel was just 23 years old, but right from the start, her shop was a success, known for carrying fine chocolates from Belgium and France.

She soon learned that there was a whole other world when it came to making high-end chocolates. Unwilling to compromise, she started making her confections, experimenting with textures, colors and eventually coming up with unique flavors like geranium and jasmine. Her candies received so much recognition that many major chocolate makers started imitating her distinctive flavorings and even her candy-making methods.

Looking to improve the customer experience, she added organic chocolates to her product line. She even campaigned to convince big candy makers to get rid of hydrogenated vegetable fats and sugar. Chantal started a school, the Rococo School of Chocolate, and authored three books on the topic. She created chocolates for people who were vegan as well as those who couldn’t have sugar.

Chantal is continuously coming up with something new, and improving what she does. She’s completely focused on listening to what her customers want, and never compromises if there is something more or better she can do.

Chantal is a prime example of what I call, the Quality Mindset—she is resistant to settling for anything less than the best. This personality trait may sometimes be difficult to maintain because people tend to get frustrated over challenging tasks.

Excellence is an important component of a Quality Mindset; excellence comes from working with a new idea and pushing yourself to continuously improve. When you experience resistance, you increase your willingness to reach out to see if there is something more or better you can do. In addition, you are also resistant to sliding back into bad habits of settling for anything less than the best.

I want to be clear that resistance doesn’t mean you aren’t willing to compromise. Indeed, all of us need to engage in empathy towards others who are contributing to whatever it is we are doing. By being resistant, we add another layer of discipline and determination to reach a goal. And if, in fact, that means we have to compromise with a team member (i.e., add more work or even starting over) then so be it.

Resistance is about battling the temptation of taking shortcuts and the easy way out. Resistance means not giving up, but it may involve giving in by being empathetic and flexible. Like Chantal, we can achieve our goals and so much more by not settling for being second best.
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In the food profession, Chantal Coady is a superstar. How did she get there? Chantel was never satisfied with anything until it was perfect—good enough was never enough. She...

Quality & Economics

A Tale of Two Countries

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    [post_date] => 2013-05-20 03:23:54
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    [post_content] => Earthquakes in Haiti and Chile measured 7.0 and 8.8 respectively on the moment magnitude scale. The difference implies that the Chilean earthquake was 500 times stronger than the Haiti earthquake.

While the devastation in both countries was extreme, structural damage and loss of life were far less in Chile than in Haiti.  The difference in devastation is largely attributed to the difference in building standards.

[pullquote]The impact of one nation's choice to pursue or not pursue quality impacts not only that nation but almost every other nation across the globe. [/pullquote]

Very few structures collapsed in Chile and the number of deaths was far less than in Haiti even though the Chilean earthquake was 500 times stronger.  In other words, in the case of Haiti, lack of quality can be directly attributable to the damage caused there, while a commitment to quality in Chile minimized what could have been an even greater loss of live than seen in Haiti.

In Haiti, the death toll exceeded 200,000 and the number of buildings destroyed or severely damaged exceeded 250,000 homes and 30,000 commercial structures.  In contrast, the death toll in Chile was less than 2,000 and very few structures were totally destroyed.

While the differences in building standards can be rationalized by noting the differences in economic health with Haiti being one the poorest nations in the world, the cost of poor quality proved to be enormous in Haiti.

ART_posts_haiti1Perhaps one of the most critical applications of quality is how it can have an impact on nations and individuals.  The impact of one nation's choice to pursue or not pursue quality impacts not only that nation but almost every other nation across the globe.  These decisions impact how dollars are spent and what they are spent on.  While it's often a difficult decision, especially in third world countries, political leaders who choose to ignore quality risk paying a heavy price.

Natural disasters cannot always be predicted, but you can minimize damage to people and places by integrating quality measures into infrastructures and policies.  Whether it is a hurricane, flood, tornado, pollution, or fire, the impact of the economics of quality for nations and their environmental resources can be devastating.
    [post_title] => A Tale of Two Countries
    [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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Earthquakes in Haiti and Chile measured 7.0 and 8.8 respectively on the moment magnitude scale. The difference implies that the Chilean earthquake was 500 times stronger than the Haiti...

Quality & Process

The Wisdom of Listening

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    [post_date] => 2013-02-25 21:09:46
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    [post_content] => Even big and successful companies sometimes forget the importance of listening.

Let’s face it. Problems come and go, but it’s how we deal with the problems that make us stand out to our customer base.

Microsoft spent years combating the perception that it couldn’t deal with or didn’t care about stability problems in its Windows operating system.

Adobe let the prices of its high-level production software rise to incredible heights to the point now where many of their ‘loyal’ users are merely biding their time for a cheaper alternative.

Toyota has been beset with persistent rumors about their quality. First, it was acceleration problems and floor mats, and the headline grabbing recalls continue.

[pullquote]No matter who it is – be it your customers, constituents, stakeholders, investors, membership – or even your family members – careful, intelligent listening is the first crucial step to success and for overcoming problems and achieving a Quality operation.[/pullquote]

For the record, each of the companies I have mentioned has made constructive efforts to reach out to their customers and show that they are – in fact – LISTENING. But listening, as it pertains to your management process, not a rigid, step-by-step technique for finding out what customers want or need. In fact, there is no strict methodology that can be deployed to meet the infinite variations of individual experience.

Each organization is unique in terms of its products and processes, just as each interaction will be perceived differently. However, the failure to truly listen to customers is at the heart of why many organizations fail. No matter who it is – be it your customers, constituents, stakeholders, investors, membership – or even your family members – careful, intelligent listening is the first crucial step to success and for overcoming problems and achieving a Quality operation.

I have three specific rules that will help ensure that your listening skills are applied effectively and that your listening pattern is in fact ‘careful and intelligent’.
  1. Get out from behind your desk. Go to where the action is. Go to the customers. Go to the factory. Go to the sales floor. Go to where the problems are. Go to where the facts are.
  2. Stop talking. It’s hard to listen when you’re the one doing all the talking. Watch what goes on. Watch what your employees are doing. Watch what your customers are doing. Listen to what they say – listen to the types of words they use. Even if you’re confident that you’ve got it, watch and listen more.
  3. Show empathy; look at the world through their eyes. Be in the moment where your employees and customers are speaking. Remember that it’s not about your expectations; it’s all about theirs. Learn from the people with whom you should be listening.
There are many powerful management tools can be deployed to increase the effectiveness of your listening process – this can help you on a personal level. However, the data collection process itself usually involves two phases – quantitative as well as qualitative research. For instance, you may need to deploy marketing surveys and other research to build a complete picture about your situation. Wherever possible, show the affected audience – your customers for instance – that you are actively engaged by including them in the data collection process. As with all things, it is always important to keep matters as simple as possible. The more complex the process, the more effort a company must put into learning to use it properly. Put into another way: the more complex the process, the more likely that more things may go wrong. But you’ll never go wrong just by sitting down and listening. [post_title] => The Wisdom of Listening [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => wisdom-listening [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-04-16 12:35:10 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-04-16 12:35:10 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://subirchowdhury.com/?p=178 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )
Even big and successful companies sometimes forget the importance of listening. Let’s face it. Problems come and go, but it’s how we deal with the problems that make us stand...

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...