Profitability is vital, but consider this- the BP oil spill, salmonella tainted eggs, mine explosions and so much more. At one level or another, each of these events reveals a lack of attention to quality. At the root of it all, a diversion of attention from quality details to a focus on increasing profits. In the short run, the less time we spend preparing (or fixing) the more money we can make.
With profitability comes responsibility; in business we are all stewards, whether it be of ourselves, our employees, the environment or the economy, for example. In order to make money we take actions that can have far reaching effects- people sickened, injured or killed, marine and wildlife killed or displaced, economies ravaged, to name a few. Our hindsight is 20/20 but that’s not good enough.
Profitability is little if it is not sustainable and sustainable profitability requires a commitment to quality. A commitment to quality gives us our best chance of doing it right the first time, thereby avoiding the cost of starting over, the cost of non-compliance or the cost of customer dissatisfaction and loss.
Identify your mission and live it A mission is much more than a set of goals. A mission is a commitment to consistently undertake action that is designed to achieve specific outcomes. It is a challenge to be met and a responsibility to achieve. A mission requires planning and continual effort and it serves as a beacon for all business operations.
Empower your employees The view from above is splendid but it is those in the trenches that are painting the canvas. Our employees are the lifeblood of our business. They, unlike anyone else can see firsthand if our mission is true. It is they who bring quality to life and incorporate it into our processes every day. We must provide them the channels to speak up without fear of retribution when our actions are not consistent with our mission, when quality has given way to other things.
Realize that quality takes effort Quality must be integrated into business practices throughout the business cycle; it is more than an oversight function. It is an integral function and it comes at a cost. However, the return on this investment is considerable. Attention to quality can prevent significant failures, the cost of which will far exceed the cost of quality.