//Abolish your Quality Department

Abolish your Quality Department


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 & You

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.


Books by Subir

The Power of LEO
The Ice Cream Maker
The Power of Design for Six
The Power of Six Sigma
Organization 21c

For decades now, we’ve made the Quality Department the epicenter of our quality policy. But has this attention been misplaced? My contention is that the reason we have failed to deliver resilient and sustainable quality from American businesses is that we are too focused on the metric of quality. We have turned a qualitative question into a quantitative one, and that simply will not work.

My latest endeavor, an extension of my philosophical backbone to make quality accessible to the masses, centers on the notion that Quality is Everyone’s Business or “QIEB” as I call it.  What I propose is that we expand our notion about Quality beyond the quantitative mindset of controls and processes. As I see it, Quality is about relationships – relationships that involve all people, all the time. Taking that idea one step further, that definition of Quality, especially in the business world, has far greater reach and impact than the controls and processes exercised by one department. If you really stop and think about it, the impact you seek can and should be felt everywhere. Why then should we limit ourselves?

I have come to see that there tends to be one function inside most organizations that really has both the ability and the need to reach every person on a regular basis: it’s Human Resources. Human Resources is the wheelhouse of the workforce; the one department function that holds the interest of every employee at every level of the organization.

I believe that it is of fundamental importance that there is a new Quality message – that Quality is Everyone’s business, not the responsibility of one department.

Human Resources is often perceived as non-threatening, but also powerful and influential. It’s the one place where management goes to implement training, company-wide policies, distribute compensation and make regular communication with the workforce multiple times throughout the year. And ideally, as I seek to make Quality everyone’s business, who better to lead that effort than someone (some organization) that has the ability to touch everyone in the organization? That’s why I believe that HR is the ideal standard-bearer to carry out what is essentially an acculturation program for the members of the organization – changing the age-old notion that responsibility for Quality should reside solely within the quality department.

Whatever the source within the company, I believe that it is of fundamental importance that there is a new Quality message – that Quality is Everyone’s business, not the responsibility of one department. I believe the pursuit of “key” or “critical to success” factors to be the utmost responsibility of everyone in any organization, but especially Senior Leadership. Leaders in the organization must play that vital and essential role of ensuring that the rally around Quality is consistent, sustained, and properly understood by everyone, each time, ever time.

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Make Quality a Lifestyle Choice

A few years ago, a colleague of mine was driving his car and hit a big pothole in the road. He stopped the car to make sure everything was okay. The car was fine, but at some point, he must have dropped his wallet, because when he got home he couldn’t find it. Sure, he had some money and credit cards in there, but he said that he also had some pictures of his family, and was devastated to think that he’d never get them back.

The Quality Habit

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.”

Resistance to Compromise

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.

What does Quality mean to You?

When I ask people, “what does Quality mean to you?” I hear a wide range of answers. For some people, their answer is, “Quality means putting out the best product or service possible.”  Others may say, “Honesty and trust.” Many will tell you, “Quality means doing the right thing at the right time.” Still others will say, “Quality is a resistance to compromise.” However, more often than not, I still hear “ I have no idea, that’s why we have a quality department,” or “Hey let me ask my Vice President of Quality,” or even worse yet, “I’m not sure what quality means to me.”