|National Conduit is a manufacturing company for the telecommunications industry.
Though management stresses the importance of quality, management often overlooks quality due to a misunderstanding of its role. Management thinks of quality in terms of ISO 9001 certification, or specific tools associated with quality management systems. While this view does not harm the role of quality, it does not strengthen it either. The lack of engagement underutilizes the Quality team and systems for continual improvement. National Conduit’s Plant 1 Quality team needs to focus on two questions:
1. How do you execute a quality management system that adds value to the organization?
2. How do you grow the influence of the Quality team with other teams in Plant 1?
Understanding and answering these two questions leads to greater use of the Quality team in the role of continual improvement.
Execution relies on alignment to a single goal. Design and execute all aspects of the
quality management systems such as auditing, corrective actions, or customer complaints, to support the single goal. For Plant 1, this single goal is building quality into the product to lower manufacturing costs and to provide a superior customer experience. National Conduit selected the Six Sigma approach as the core of its continual improvement program. The Quality team should utilize these tools in all areas of their work. A
systematic process of review – Plan – Do – Check – Act – should be part of the daily tasks for the Quality team. Use of the PDCA loop identifies and corrects issues in a timely fashion. While the use of existing National Conduit systems can strengthen execution, these systems must be balanced against the need for innovation.
Improving execution requires a focus on the workforce. Team members must develop
hard skills, such as data analysis, and soft skills, such as facilitation and coaching. Interacting with a wide range of teams in the Plant 1 organization requires strong emotional intelligence in the Quality team. They must be aware of their own internal emotions and responses to deal with a wide range of issues and personalities. Strong execution skills rely of influence to enact change. Alignment of the Quality team
goals with the Plant 1 goals is important. Demonstrating this alignment to upper management, and convincing them of the Quality team’s worth, is critical to gaining influence in the organization. This requires a change in communication. Communication must be positive and tuned in a manner that relates to the audience. For management, communication should be tuned to reflect the financial realities of quality issues and improvements. How does a project save money? How does a solution increase sales revenue? Changes in influence require a superior team. The Quality team must build talent and attract outside talent. Alliances with other teams help strengthen influence. When a team is perceived as a strong performer with smart business ideas, other teams will want to support those ideas and be part of the winning solution. A team that is willing to look inward proactively and work to improve its own financial performance helps the overall financial performance of the organization. Stronger performance,
sharper execution, and integration with other teams results in increasing sales revenue and decreasing manufacturing costs on a shorter time horizon.