Quality must affect every conversation and interaction that we have with peers, subordinates, and leaders; every interaction that we have with co-workers, friends and family. That is why Quality is Everyone's Business.
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.
Quality begins with positive, individual action; when everyone in the organization is listening, enriching, and optimizing.
Has our attention on quality been misplaced? Is it time to redefine the way that Quality affects everyone in any organization? Is it time to get rid of the Quality “department” and make Quality something that everybody does?
“Quality” is not just part of your business plan. It is a lifestyle choice - something that you do every moment of your life and in every situation.
When Quality becomes a lifestyle, people rise above the norm and do extraordinary things.