Odimbite Odimbite: Organizational Character in the 21st Century
Is it really expensive to have a quality product, service or process? Quality is often defined as fitness for use. The ability to have exactly what is needed at the right time, right place and at the right price. Delivering the right product, service benefit or process attracts some associated cost. When failures result, does failures really cost more to an enterprise than consistently maintaining good quality? Quality is the obvious character of an organization. This implies the way the organization is first of all organized, structured, the way she responds to complaints, the important priorities of the company, the way customers and suppliers are received, treated and the way a company carries on with her legitimate business. Quality is to be wired into the entire fabric of the enterprise. The real cost of cost in modern day business tells a lot about the organization’s character.
Quality is the character of an organization or her product/service offering as well as her processes for delivering the benefit to the customer. Just as humans are assessed by their character, quality is the basis for assessing the character of an organization. There needs to be quality standards with which to benchmark quality in an enterprise. Several international quality standards exist such ISO series, Total Quality Management (TQM), six sigma series, et cetera. However, true quality is developed to match the internal dynamics of an organization. Advertizing the certification obtained by qualifying bodies is one step in having a proper character. Certification is like passing an examination but the test of the certification is how the organization maintains and builds on this character thereafter.
Building Quality into Performance Matrix
This is where the challenge lies for every organization. Companies celebrate new products brought to the market and get a raving success. Then, suddenly after some months or years, there is a massive recall of the product because it is failing or has failed in the market place. Automobiles, drugs, accessories have been recalled this way. In some cases, lingering law suits with huge penalties have to be dealt with in the process. What went wrong?
Already existing products that have had long history of success are suddenly found to be faulty and have to be withdrawn from the market place. Organizations spend huge resources to effect the withdrawal and destruction or eventual re-working of the product or service? What went wrong? Does a company need to withdraw or recall a product or service in the first place? Why was it not prevented in the first place? Why would a company spend a lot of money compensating users, channel members and other stakeholders and throw money away?
The organization circumvents quality. They see quality as a concept and hasn’t fully integrated it into the performance ecosystem. Each employee and department has o understand why what they do can impact the fortunes of the organization. The employees have to see the bigger picture of their efforts. The have to work with their heads and their hands. If an employee has to tie a nut, he needs to see the big picture of how tying the nut affects the customer eventually and the fortunes of the organization in the short and long run. If an employee has to generate a report, he has to see the bigger picture of how generating a wrong report will impact him organizational decision making and eventually, the losses the organization will make for a wrong decision taken. Sometimes the wrong report can lead to decision to terminate the employee’s job and this whole picture has to be clear in the employee’s mind. If an employee is to obtain a market intelligence on competitor’s activities, the employee has to see the bigger picture of how the intelligence will impact decisions the organization makes and initiatives to retain market share and keep him in employ. So, wrong intelligence will lead to failures and the consequence of what such a failure will be for the business as well as other staff members and business partners. This approach is lacking in most organizations.
Compartmentalizing functions has led to narrow mindedness of organizational employees and so they only see what they do without seeing the impact of their actions or inactions on the quality of the entire organization. Every quality management system has three basic dimensions of design, control and assurance. The assurance element of a quality system is often the major cause of product, service and process failures. Quality is not just measured in the short term alone. Quality is measured both in the medium and long term too. There is need to celebrate success achieved during the year but when that success is reversed three or more years down the road, because the quality failed, then that success isn’t success at all. Every quality failure is more expensive due to withdrawal cost, compensation cost, destruction cost, re-work cost, litigation cost as well as bad reputation earned by the organization in this regard. Quality system deployment may be expensive to institutionalize but it is far more destructive to ignore it and suffer dire consequences.
Figuring it out
The real cost of quality represents an organization’s character.
The real cost of quality in performance is both attainment of desired purposes and the inability to attain and sustain desired objectives. It pays more to minimize the cost of not attaining the desired objective drastically and improve the opportunity to attain expected objectives all the time. One quality failure in a year can wipe out the bottom line and undermine the integrity of the enterprise.
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