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You have decided that you would like to implement a quality program within your business or organization. Consulting companies have developed many different programs ranging from step-by-step procedures to complex manuals, charts and software. The quality program may take the name of Six Sigma, TQM, quality assurance or just plan quality. Regardless of the methodology or name, this article is intended to give you a top-level implementation plan before initiating program development or hiring a consultant company.
1. Ensure Management Buy-in
Quality is led from the top down and implemented from the bottom up. Your business and leadership team will not receive maximum benefits unless everyone is empowered and given the knowledge and skills necessary to take action and improve their responsible work areas. Leadership from the top of the organization is necessary to define, prioritize and construct the quality culture.
If your chief executive officer or general manager is not already committed to quality, your first step is to educate, develop the understanding, and generate active support. This is no easy task. It entails you having a comprehensive understanding of the concepts of quality and using your persuasion skills.
One way to get attention and build momentum for a quality program is to highlight the many problems and daily ‘fires’ of the organization. Look for repeated customer visible defects and complaints, calculate financial savings from reducing defects, and try to quantify employee frustration with the current process. A project charter may help organize your thoughts as you collect data.
2. Examine Your Organization and Culture
If you made it past step 1, your management team now realizes that without quality the business will not succeed. They understand that there are customer focused methodologies to solving problems, and have agreed to set aside resources to engrain quality in the culture of the organization.
The next step is to figure out how best to implement quality with your organization. Each organization has a specific culture and way of doing things. The culture of an organization is the result of the beliefs and values of its employees. If your company is long established, the culture may be difficult to modify if employees are not used to change. Focus on the fit between the culture and quality and determine how best to implement quality within your business or organization. The end result should focus on recommendations, specific next steps and the long-range plan for implementation.
3. Establish A Mission
You’ve now gained support from the management team and come to agreement on the best way to implement quality within the organization and culture. The final step before actual implementation is to develop the quality mission.
The mission statement sets the direction and priority for developing and implementing the quality plan. It clearly states the nature of the organization’s commitment to quality and should then be tied to the organizational operations through programs, projects, actions and rewards/recognition.
Only through clear, strong and persistent actions by top and middle leadership can you convince employees who doubt and reassure employees who fear. Implementation actions must directly involve the CEO or GM to show what the culture now expects.