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Quality & You

Is your quality suffering under the culture of “Good Enough”?

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    [post_content] => Every day, we are faced with choices: a choice to do nothing; a choice to take the easy way out; or a choice to bear down and do the right thing.

Our choices are influenced by many things including the people around us; the society in which we live and work, and our community. The pressures of everyday life influence our attitude toward quality; the workplace, careers, money. Maybe we rush through things here and rush through them there; maybe we cut corners, cheat a little and say to ourselves, "That's not perfect, but it's good enough." But, at the end of the day, who suffers? What do we lose when the culture of "good enough" is what drives our daily lives?

Today, throughout most of our society we must all acknowledge that we are living in a culture where “good enough” is at the core of our troubles. We have taken the low road to what we know is right. We have lost the moral high ground to what is expedient, easy, and makes us a fast buck. But, if I ask you to really consider what it will take to make us great again I’m sure you’ll agree with me that the notion of “good enough” really isn’t good enough!

[pullquote]When we all rally around the fact that quality is and must become everyone’s business, will we truly understand and appreciate the fact that “good” can never be “good enough!”[/pullquote]

As I was building my core philosophy for “quality is everyone’s business,” I discovered that the greatest challenge was getting individuals, groups, and organizations (and eventually society as a whole) to recognize that hanging onto the status quo creates enormous waste, but more important, is not sustainable.  The culture of “good enough” has become such a fixture in our mindset that we don’t even recognize the deep problems that it causes. This status quo pervades our lexicon and more importantly causes us to believe that nothing else can be done; meanwhile the waste and wasted opportunities pile up around our feet.

I believe that if we all take the approach and make Quality a part of everything we do then we, as individuals and collectively as a society, will never believe that “good is good enough.” I have seen places where Quality, as I have described it, produces long lasting positive, effects. These are organizations where everyone is exposed to the Quality mindset.  These organizations have done the hard work of taking everyone down the path of acculturation together to understand how the quality mindset requires a “real” change in the way individuals think and behave. And I believe that the individual is changed as well - their life is lifted, their outlook is lengthened, and their whole attitude toward personal responsibility is enlarged.

What I have found is that when the Culture of Quality takes over, people observe and understand - they really listen. People not only listen to their customers, but to co-workers, associates, family, friends, and even neighbors. High achieving people explore and discover by looking for ways to do everything that they can to find the best solution; not the easiest solution, but the best solution possible. For these people, Quality means improving and perfecting everything that they do, every day.

At the end of the day, when people rally around the fact that quality is and must become everyone’s business, will we truly understand and appreciate the fact that “good” can never be “good enough!”
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Every day, we are faced with choices: a choice to do nothing; a choice to take the easy way out; or a choice to bear down and do the...

Quality & Economics

Subir Chowdhury Fellowship on Quality and Economics at the London School of Economics (LSE)

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The Subir Chowdhury Fellowship on Quality and Economics allows for any post-doctoral scholar in-residence to participate in the program, regardless of ethnicity or national origin and spend time at LSE engaging in research examining the impact of “people quality” and behavior on the economies of Asian nations prioritizing, but not restricted to, India and Bangladesh.

Ultimately, the “Subir Chowdhury Fellow” is expected to successfully complete one publishable research paper during their stay and make a presentation at a seminar or lecture arranged by the Asia Research Centre. The Fellowship has been awarded to the following individuals:
2014-15 Dr Saurabh Kumar CUTS International
Click Here - For more information about Dr. Kumar's work.
2013-14 Dr Srijit Mishra Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research
Click Here - For more information about Dr Mishra's work.
2012-13 Dr Mrutuyanjaya Sahu Jawaharlal Nehru University
Click Here - For more information about Dr Sahu's work.
2011-2012 Dr. Vanishree Joseph Indira Gandhi National Open University
Click Here - For more information about Dr. Joseph's work.
2010-2011 Dr. Rahul Hiremath Walchand Institute of Technology and Birla Institute of Technology & Science
Click Here - For more information about Dr. Hiremath's work.
Click Here for more information regarding The Subir Chowdhury Fellowship on Quality and Economics at the London School of Economics (LSE). [post_title] => Subir Chowdhury Fellowship on Quality and Economics at the London School of Economics (LSE) [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => subir-chowdhury-fellowship-on-quality-and-economics-at-the-london-school-of-economics-lse [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-04-23 16:45:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-04-23 16:45:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://subirchowdhury.com/?p=895 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )
The Subir Chowdhury Fellowship on Quality and Economics allows for any post-doctoral scholar in-residence to participate in the program, regardless of ethnicity or national origin and spend time at...

Quality & Process

Fire, Flow, Future

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    [post_content] => From the very beginning of my work, I kept a journal of challenges and crisis that were reported to me by my clients. I recorded problems, noted characteristics, and key patterns in each of them. My goal was to record how the different situations were related and how problems were eventually resolved.

Why did the product fail?  What is causing delays. Why are customers turning way?

Initially, the journal resembled a catalog dissimilar events, but after about 20 years of work, I amassed enough information that clear patterns began to emerge. To my surprise, the patterns showed up quite readily as event-driven triggers – three of them to be precise.

It didn’t matter where the company was located, what sector they served, how large or small the organization was, nor how old.  It also didn’t matter what kind of problem it was – revenue generation, human relations, manufacturing, research and development. The same patterns were evident among government agencies, small private businesses, or major multi-national corporations.

[pullquote]Fire, flow and future events are interrelated – think of them as points in a triangle.[/pullquote]

That’s how my three triggers came to be Fire, Flow, and Future.

FIRE

Fire describes a sudden problem that usually causes a specific crisis of some kind – like a malfunction or faulty product. Fires require either a near term and long-term resolution; sometimes both. The cause of a Fire may be obvious or it may be hidden or multiple causes. Most fires tend to be minor in scope, but sometimes they can be very large and extremely complex. But just like any fire, bad assumptions can easily lead to a misdiagnosis and mistreatment.

FLOW

Flow refers to a disruption in the operations side of the organization that could be limited to a small portion of the overall process. There are two kinds of flow – administrative and delivery (production of product or delivery of service). Flow events are often characterized by an unexpected result somewhere else in the process. They could be a reaction to unexpected external or internal changes. It is likely the problem existed long before you became aware of it.

FUTURE

Future identifies the timely development (or redevelopment) of new products or services; a vital activity that influences the company’s marketability and profitability over time. It requires built-in flexibility within the organization; the requisite motivation to invest time, money and intellectual capital to constantly move products and services to meet customer demand.  As it turns out, future is also the motive and opportunity to build greater quality into the innovation process – so in that regard it is usually self-starting or self-generating. No organization is without an occasional fire or two. No company exists that hasn’t experienced an interruptions in flow, or faced an imperfect future. And while total perfection is always a goal rather than reality, we must be vigilant about these events and react swiftly and decisively as though perfection were within our grasp. Fire, flow and future events are interrelated – think of them as points in a triangle. For instance, you could see a fire that is actually symptomatic of a problem within the flow, or one that reveals a badly needed cycle of redevelopment for your future. You may even discover a fire (or a multiple smoldering ones) that you didn’t know about as you to peel back a problem in the flow. I advise all my clients to keep a ready journal as I have – one for each type of event – and watch for unique patterns in circumstances and triggers. A resource like that that will be invaluable, especially for detecting long-term and deep-seated problems. Above all, keep your mind open to the evidence, and your power of reason will help you deduce the correct solution. [post_title] => Fire, Flow, Future [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => fire-flow-future [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-04-15 10:09:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-04-15 10:09:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://subirchowdhury.com/?p=162 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )
From the very beginning of my work, I kept a journal of challenges and crisis that were reported to me by my clients. I recorded problems, noted characteristics, and...

Quality & Me

Valuable Trash

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    [post_content] => Not all waste is created equal. Some of it is extremely valuable; especially when it teaches us something about the way we run our business. The owner of an insurance brokerage in Los Angeles, CA – we will call him “Cooper” – relayed this story to us recently.

Cooper was working late one night on a presentation for a new client. The printer in his office malfunctioned, so he routed a document he needed to the printer that the staffers shared. As he waited by the printer, he looked down at the trashcan and was startled by what he saw: heaping but neat stacks of printed email, dumped straight into the round file. At the time, his office had about 35 employees, so he imagined that it was an isolated incident. But he knew that he should take a closer look.

The next morning, he asked his administrative manager about the trash and what he heard surprised him even more. Two years earlier, he had set what he thought was a mundane office policy to require a paper record of all emails relating to client business.

Email was still a relatively new business tool. Cooper didn’t know that people tended to communicate with each other via the “Reply To” function. As a result, many emails grew into long strings of messages that included every comment made with the important details sprinkled all over. Outlook and other email managers help search for the important bits, but when you print, you get the whole enchilada including every joke, recipe, sports prediction, birthday greeting, salutation, and thanks.

Because of the policy, agents were forwarding customer emails to staffers. At the close of every day, the staffers printed everything, kept what they needed and tossed out the rest.

Cooper measured the stack of paper and found that it was almost even with a fresh package of paper, or about 500 sheets. The real shock came when the manager revealed that this stack was light. Not only did the process occur daily, many times the amount of waste was double, even triple what Cooper had seen.

Cooper and the manager estimated that the cost of wasted paper from printing emails was running up a $300 a month bill; $7,200 since the email policy was passed. When they added toner and staff time, the total cost soared to more than $14,000.

Talking with agents and staffers, he learned that everyone thought that the policy was wasteful and inefficient. And yet, no one took the initiative to anything about it.

Not long after this incident, a non-paper solution was adopted and Cooper was pleased that he could reduce cost and increase efficiency from one small change. Then he realized that this one example was a symptom of other perhaps more costly problems and worried where they might be. About a year later, “The Ice Cream Maker,” was published.

Cooper bought a copy and read it one afternoon. Inspired by the concept of using quality as the benchmark of behavior throughout his business, he bought a copy for everyone in his office. To this day, new employees receive a copy as part of their training.

Another underlying message in this story is the fact that many businesses pass office policy without attention to a quality process. Had Cooper focused on the outcome rather than the solution, he might have avoided this problem entirely. Luckily, the trash was the clue. In my experience, the cost of such mistakes can produce even greater expense.

Something to think about the next time you’re in a position to set what you think is a mundane office policy.
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Not all waste is created equal. Some of it is extremely valuable; especially when it teaches us something about the way we run our business. The owner of an...