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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

Inspiring Talent

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    [post_content] => There has been a lot of media coverage about enormous salaries paid to top executives, including their mind-boggling “golden parachutes”. Primarily CEOs, these executives aren’t always paid based on their talents.

In fact, what many people fine surprising is that employee pay is often not based on what they contribute to the organization. Most companies have no idea how to calculate the contributions from individual members of the workforce.

Why should you be concerned about talent in your own workforce? It’s simple: talent produces quality. People with the talent who are also inspired perform better and possess the gifts they need to sustain the highest level of performance possible. All of my experience has shown me that talent is the key to the successful implementation of a quality revolution. They’re also people who, at the moment you need them most, unexpectedly spring into action:
  • The hotel manager and cook who quickly put together a fantastic spread for a guest whose caterer was caught up in a traffic accident.
  • The sales manager of a parts manufacturer who used her own car to drive three hours so she could personally deliver a critical component a customer needed to keep its production moving the next day.
  • The young grocery clerk who guided customers to the safety of a walk-in freezer during an especially bad hostage situation. The clerk was later hailed as a hero by the international press.
If you work for a small business, the chief talent is possibly the founder because that’s what talent often does – they go off and start their own companies. But there are other “high potential” employees who work in your business right now, today. They are the indispensable people who, through their dedication and astuteness, do their jobs extremely well. I believe that most potential employees can be nurtured into talent roles. You can guide and train them so that they know how to maximize the positive results that only they can achieve. While they work, their learning capacity increases as their confidence expands. While you work alongside them and manage them, you can focus their trajectory and help them build toward greater excellence so their talent shines. [post_title] => Inspiring Talent [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => inspiring-talent [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-10-11 01:07:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-10-11 01:07:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://subirchowdhury.com/?p=1417 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )
There has been a lot of media coverage about enormous salaries paid to top executives, including their mind-boggling “golden parachutes”. Primarily CEOs, these executives aren’t always paid based on...

Quality & Me

Recognizing Quality Innovation: The Subir Chowdhury Medal of Quality Leadership

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    [post_content] => In 2010, the Society of Automotive Engineers along with the Subir and Malini Chowdhury Foundation, established The Subir Chowdhury Medal of Quality Leadership. This award is designed to honor those in the mobility industry who demonstrate ability and talent to further innovation and broaden the impact of "quality" in mobility engineering, design and manufacture.

This award is offered in the spirit of my lifetime of work toward quality in the engineering professions.

 

LOGO_sae_international

Recipient Award Employer
James D. Power 2010 JD Power And Associates
Glen A. Barton 2011 Caterpillar Inc
[post_title] => Recognizing Quality Innovation: The Subir Chowdhury Medal of Quality Leadership [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => recognizing-quality-innovation-the-subir-chowdhury-medal-of-quality-leadership [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-03-21 13:52:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-03-21 13:52:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://subirchowdhury.com/?p=703 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )
In 2010, the Society of Automotive Engineers along with the Subir and Malini Chowdhury Foundation, established The Subir Chowdhury Medal of Quality Leadership. This award is designed to honor...