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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

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

Activate the Revolution

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    [post_content] => In some respects, the old way of managing the quality process is part of the problem. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that the old approach to management has become problematic. When we manage quality, we are addressing problems as we become aware of them. But by then we are already behind; we're reacting and not 'proacting' - we're most definitely failing to prevent anything. You see, it is not enough to notice quality problems. The problems we discover today have roots in events that occurred days ago - weeks ago - maybe years ago. The real challenge is to catch issues before they become problems.

Think of all the problems we face today: rising healthcare insurance, inefficient disaster response, the financial meltdown, oil spills; each of them have one thing in common - failure of quality.

Are our health care practitioners incompetent or are we truly that sick to cause health insurance cost to rise so precipitously? Why can't we find a more efficient response to disasters? How did the financial meltdown occur and why did it cause so much damage? Why do oil spills seem to be getting worse and worse? Is our technology inferior? Are the people in charge truly corrupt and bereft of ability? In my view, in each circumstance I have researched, I find similar answers: failure of quality assessment, failure of quality design, failure to conduct quality implementation. Quality. Quality. Quality. At times, the systems we put into place to prevent failure become the source of additional failure.

[pullquote]I believe that in order to achieve quality, we must stop thinking about quality.[/pullquote]

We have become so ingrained to manage things that suddenly we find that nobody really cares about quality. They only care about getting the job done. A very good friend of mine is fond of saying that quality hangs in the balance between doing the job right and doing the right things. If we imagine that quality is a separate deliverable - like a component that you add to a car or a building – then we have an incorrect definition. Quality is not a tangible thing. Quality is intangible as the air between us: a dream, a concept, a behavior, a reaction. Therefore, quality is a human element.

Consider this equation: Quality equals People Power plus Process Power.

Q = PeP + PrP

People Power (PeP) is the workforce, of course, with direct and indirect elements. Direct elements are the members of your team who are directly responsible for producing deliverables be it a service, a product, or a combination of both. Indirect elements are the members of the team who support the producers and the deliverables – accounting, customer service, account management, even your receptionist who answers the phone. Quality is in the touchpoints that leads your customer to your your organization. Quality is also in the relationships between members of your company.

Process Power (PrP) is the means by which the deliverable is possible. It may entail research, planning, implementation, evaluation; production, delivery and support. For obvious reasons, we want the process to be as robust and as streamlined as possible. But for process power to work, we need people power to drive it.

That is why I believe that in order to achieve quality, we must stop thinking about quality.

For one thing, when we have perfected our quality process, we will have reached the point where quality management is no longer an issue. But that first important step toward a total quality process requires that our focus be on our people.
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In some respects, the old way of managing the quality process is part of the problem. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that the old approach to management...

Quality & Me

Frances Hesselbein Medal for Excellence in Leadership and Service

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    [post_date] => 2013-03-20 17:53:51
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    [post_content] => LOGO_Frances-HesselbeinWhile reading a book titled The Leader of the Future and co-authored by Frances Hesselbein and others, Subir Chowdhury was keenly interested in Ms Hesselbein’ s leadership style and ideas on how leadership and organizational development would be impacted in the new millennium.  This was back in 1997 and thus began a long relationship between Hesselbein and Chowdhury. Eventually, through intellectual exchanges with Hesselbein, Chowdhury was inspired to write Management 21C, a book that drew on thoughts of 26 of the world’s top thought leaders on management, including Hesselbein.

To honor his mentor and friend, in 2012 Chowdhury and The Subir and Malini Chowdhury Foundation provided a lifetime endowment for The Frances Hesselbein Medal for Excellence in Leadership and Service. The award is bestowed annually to a cadet who best exhibits excellence in mentorship and leadership by example at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

In May of 2012, The Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership (BS&L) at the United States Military Academy at West Point awarded its first Frances Hesselbein Medal for Excellence this past May to Cadet Chris Jarrett ’12. Going forward, BS&L will hand out this award annually to the cadet who best exhibits superiority in mentorship and leadership-by-example at the United States Military Academy at West Point as determined by peers and faculty.

[caption id="attachment_805" align="aligncenter" width="300"]ART_posts_Frances-Hesselbein-Medal1 From L-R - Cadet Chris Jarrett ’12 – Inaugural Winner of the Frances Hesselbein Medal for Excellence in Leadership and Service, COL Bernie Banks (Head of the Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership), Frances Hesselbein, and Subir Chowdhury.[/caption]
    [post_title] => Frances Hesselbein Medal for Excellence in Leadership and Service
    [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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While reading a book titled The Leader of the Future and co-authored by Frances Hesselbein and others, Subir Chowdhury was keenly interested in Ms Hesselbein’ s leadership style and...