On paper achieving good quality is easy: work out what has to be done, optimise it for cost and do it. Day-in-day-out.
That message hasn’t changed, but some people think it doesn’t apply to them. News flash, it applies to everyone. Whether you are working on a project, have a senior role or have been around for years (seen it, done it, got the tee-shirt).
However, some people seem to seek to apply the day-in-day-out bit to the point of sucking all the soul out of work. So, let’s be clear, doing something badly (in this case misapplying Quality principles) doesn’t make that thing (Quality principles) bad; it means we have the wrong approach.
Take three organisations
In organisation one, there is a lot of flexibility in working practices. So much flexibility that the service provided is of variable quality. Most of the time the organisation gets away with that, but occasionally a customer says enough is enough – fix it. The focus of the team shifts from having fun doing what they do to having fun firefighting. Everyone is happy, they are creative and when they fix things they feel valued and superior to their colleagues. Sound familiar?
In organisation two, there is no flexibility. The output is entirely consistent, and roles become no more than a set of highly repeatable actions. This organisation doesn’t exist. It might exist briefly, but it won’t grow. This is the organisation I believe people fear when they hear the Q word.
In organisation three, routine jobs are completely on time, with no fuss and no rework. Everyone has time to do other tasks. They don’t need to firefight, so they can find even better ways to do things, fill spare capacity with new products or grow the business in new directions.
The third organisation sounds too good to be true and, honestly, it probably is. However, of the three organisations, it is the one I would prefer to work in and, therefore, is the one I will continue to pursue.