No Downturn for Quality

3994 reads

 

crossing-the-cracksNewspapers and televisions seem to be screaming of economic downturn and recession; there is a gloom in the market and pessimism with whomever you talk on business. Well economics seems to take up and down turn cycles, but for "Quality and Improvement" there is never a down turn, no one accepts poor quality, but on the other hand there is an ever increasing demand from customers on high levels of service and quality.

 

In an economic downward trend there is a feeling of insecurity and skepticism as regards the future and the general tendency is to go slow on all initiatives and projects, true we must be cautious of spending, but panic reaction shouldn't be the cause to bring a stop to all improvement activities; on the other hand I think it's time to sharpen the saw. Just like it is said it's probably the best time to invest in stocks, it's also a great opportunity to invest in training, development and quality improvement. While it's difficult to get people to be trained in good times, this is a time when there is less travel, business meetings or visitors; it's a time when people are relatively free and I think organizations must make best of the situation.

 When the world is moaning the downward trend, smarter organizations can make best use of this downward trend to sharpen the saw.

Laying off people is typically an option organizations look at, especially people in support functions but this is the time for support functions such as Quality and Training to be working hard. Similarly stopping recruitment of much needed Quality Engineers and Managers is also not a wise thing in my opinion. We may recall the past downturns in economy and how the cycle repeats, so the prime question to ask is if we will be prepared when the market situation improves or we will be caught unawares and get into the spiral of firefighting. I remember the last recession period in 2001-02 when we at Tyco Electronics India concentrated on training, development and quality improvement activities and when the global economic scenario changed and business improved our quality performance and customer perception was much better than our counter parts in Europe and the USA.

 

It's time to look into the inventory of knowledge and expertise in the organization and utilize the same for cross training. When I state Quality it's not just quality assurance function but overall business process improvements. It may be an ideal time to leverage on the knowledge of Sales, Engineering, Finance and Production Managers, to share their knowledge and experience to others in the organization.

 

Some of the areas to focus in the current situation are as follows:

 

*     Quality Circles: Shop floor personnel can be encouraged to form Small Group Activities or Quality Control Circles to work on problems associated with production, safety or environment issues

 

*      Training on Quality Systems: Quality Management Systems and the associated certification standards like ISO 9000 goes through changes and especially major changes typically every 4 years, but most people in the organization may not have had to opportunity to get an update on the revised standards or may have forgotten the key aspects of the standard and may need a refresher course

 

*    Training on Problem Solving Tools: It would be good idea to impart training on the basic 7 Quality tools and other problem solving tools to officers and managers of functions other than Quality Control, because problem solving is everybody's business.

 

 *     Internal Quality Audits: One of the big issues on internal quality audits is availability of auditors and auditees and this period I guess is ideal to have a much more detailed and elaborate quality system audits

 

*    Review of Systems and Procedures: Not just the standards, but the practices and processes in the organization also change and it is quite common to leave unattended the updation of the revised processes. A team can be constituted to look into all process in the organization from Sales to Stores and make amendments as desired

 

*   Cost Reduction Projects: Cost cutting is the order of the day and hence under the umbrella of Six Sigma and Lean a more focused cost reduction program can be initiated.

 

*    Soft Skill Training: Soft skills such as presentation skills, interpersonal skills have to be continuously fine tuned. Experienced Sales and Purchasing personnel can also handle topics such as Negotiation and understanding Consumer Behavior

 

*    Product Training: It is extremely important for all the technical people to understand the end use of their products and the upcoming technology in the market

 

*   Finance and Accounts: Finance for non-finance is another easy model that can be handled internally and in times of financial crunch this would be a much needed training for the technical personnel.

 

So when the world is moaning the downward trend, smarter organizations can make best use of this downward trend to sharpen the saw and get prepared for a better tomorrow 

 

pradeep-kumar-e.tPradeep Kumar E.T. A Master Black Belt in Six Sigma , is the Country Manager- Operational Excellence with Tyco Electronics Corporation India Pvt Ltd. Feedback can be e- mailed to pradeep@  businessgyan.com

Issue BG92 Nov08

Trending

194
adamgrant's picture

Most Personality Quizzes Are Junk Science. I Found One That Isn’t.

Most Personality Quizzes Are Junk Science. I Found One That Isn't."The MBTI is astrology for nerds." Say it with me again: personality types are a myth, traits are on a continuum, and the major dimensions include extravert-introvert, agreeable-
205
changethis's picture

What If Sellers Behaved as Leaders?

“It is time we start making a shift. Research shows you can make more sales by abandoning sales-y behaviors buyers resist and replacing them with leadership behaviors buyers desire. Sellers do extraordinary things when they stop pushing people to
264
adamgrant's picture

Is Curiosity As Good at Predicting Children’s Reading, Math Success as Self-Control? Study Says Yes

The joy of discovery matters as much as self-control, and matters even more for low-income children. We need to encourage kids to ask novel questions, not just give familiar answers.Ever since the landmark "marshmallow test" highlighted the
212
danielhpink's picture

PINKCAST: This is when to quit your job

Should you stay or should you go? After a few years at the same job, many of us begin asking that question.In the latest Pinkcast, former Wall Street analyst and venture capitalist Whitney Johnson offers the answer. You can watch the 136-second
213
changethis's picture

The Speed Trap: When Taking Your Time (Really) Matters

“Speed-for-speed’s-sake is about the most counterproductive* approach imaginable. (*I use counterproductive because it’s impolite to use “stupid”—which is what I really believe.)While we must indeed evolve and experiment rapidly, the process of
318
adamgrant's picture

How to Pick a Career (That Actually Fits You)

This is a post about something I’ve been wanting to write about forever: careers. Society tells us a lot of things about what we should want in a career and what the possibilities are—which is weird because I’m pretty sure society knows very little
252
danielhpink's picture

WHAT TO LISTEN TO: Some audiobooks are more equal than others

“Mr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the popholes.”So begins Animal Farm, George Orwell’s classic novella. I’ve read Animal Farm many times. But now, for the first time, I’m
245
changethis's picture

Beyond Business Results: Achieving Sustainable Success

“For most of my career, I focused on my next professional opportunity rather than on my present situation. I was committed to serving patients and to helping my company meet its goals; I was always looking down the line to what was coming next. What
262
danielhpink's picture

WHAT TO WATCH: The Happiest Guy in the World

Two decades ago, Mario Salcedo retired from his job and went on a cruise. He never came back. Mario wasn’t lost at sea. For more than 20 years, he's been a permanent resident on Royal Caribbean Cruises. You read that right. “Super Mario” has