November might be the time where the holiday season comes into sharp focus, but the month has a special place in the calendar for people who work with quality management systems.
Over the last decade, there has been a concerted effort by the quality community to raise awareness of the role that quality plays in both business optimization strategies and organizational growth. Quality is an ever-present part of life, and while the average person might not understand the impact that it has on their daily routine, the simple truth is that quality is often considered to be not only a benchmark for success but also a barometer for brand reputation and consumer trust.
Since 2010, US-based quality community ASQ has declared November to be World Quality Month and encourages its global members to flag up the work they do in their individual organizations and to take credit for being the gatekeepers for brand reputation and consumer trust. On the other side of the pond, the UK’s Chartered Quality Institute (CQI) has been championing quality for 100 years, and now has over 19,000 members in 130 countries.
With that in mind, the CQI has assigned November 14, 2019, to be World Quality Day. And while there are unlikely to be photos on social media of people dressed as W. Edwards Deming, Philip Crosby, Armand V. Feignbaum, Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa or even Walter A. Shewhart, the day will undoubtedly take advantage of the community-centric goals of ASQ’s month-long celebration of quality.
The overarching goal of the day – celebrated annually on the second Thursday in November – is for people to act as quality advocates and recognize the contributions that quality professionals make to their companies on a regular basis. On a macro level, there is a consensus that quality must be everyone’s business, especially when you take into account the impact that costs of poor quality can have on the bottom line.
The quality profession has, CQI said, “empowered organizations to succeed, regardless of their sector and across all geographies.” As a result, the advancements in healthcare, manufacturing, construction, energy, defense and transportation – to name just a few industry sectors – would not have been possible without effective quality management systems and, importantly, the people or teams tasked with running them.
“Quality management is about making organizations perform for their stakeholders – from improving products, services, systems and processes, to making sure that the whole organization is fit and effective,” the CQI website states. “Managing quality means constantly pursuing excellence: making sure that what your organization does is fit for purpose, and not only stays that way, but keeps improving.”
Quality is an ongoing process
Of course, dedicating a single day to think about why quality matters and to define what constitutes the quality standard within an organization is not nearly enough.
Quality can often be disconnected from the other business optimization processes in a company, especially if there is a lack of top-level support. Companies need to care about quality, and an effective quality management system is a major part of cementing a brand’s reputation and protecting it against unforeseen or preventable risks. Quality is not just a box to be ticked, it requires everyone to be involved and, more often than not, the evangelists are the ones who know that a culture of quality is a path to continuous improvement.
Deming famously stated that you can learn a lot about ice and still not understand water. And while this may seem to have more in common with some sort of zen philosophy, companies must understand that quality is an ongoing process. November is just one month, November 14th is merely 24 hours … the key thing to remember is that quality never stops having an impact.
For that reason alone, the ETQ Blog hopes that everybody has a successful and celebratory World Quality Day. And if you are a quality professional, we thank you for your service. That is the least that you deserve.
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