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Friday, 17 April 2009 14:16

The 4 C’s to Enhance Quality

Written by  TenStep, Inc. and C & K Management Limited
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“Think about all that you have” to get “all that you need”... Christopher Columbus set out on his first voyage from the Port of Palos (near Huelva) in southern Spain, on August 3, 1492. Three ships, the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria were in his command. Little did Columbus know that he would revolutionize the world by discovering the Bahamas and the United States of America. Accomplishments of great men like Columbus are unquestionable. A clear starting point and an aim is all they had. Every person sets goals that he wishes to accomplish. The irony is that even with clear goals, we end up with other alternatives. Often we desire something but get something else. Why does this happen?

Life is a journey. We begin somewhere and end up elsewhere. The secret of life and accomplishing goals is to clearly identify our starting point before embarking on a journey. These points are as critical as our destinations. The same can be said about corporate transformations. Most change or improvement initiatives fail because organizations do not assess their current status. To foster these initiatives, organizations must understand their present status and the path they desire to follow.

Clarity about one’s current status helps understand the measures required for improvement. Improved quality = the payback! Improvement in end product quality or service is considered most difficult, as one has to improve employee culture to benefit the end customer. A focus on the 4 C’s makes this possible.
  • Conviction
  • Commitment
  • Conversion
  • Certainty


How can we improve quality?
Enhanced quality demands a lot more than just creating great plans. A systematic process with a top down approach is recommended. Once the organization decides upon its goals, a team of quality experts must be deployed. The first objective of the team would be to determine the desired path and the resources required. To successfully enhance quality, the organization wide goal must be based on its core competency. Every employee must work towards achieving this goal. Simply put, individual goals must not exist.

There is no definite route to enhanced quality. The approach to quality depends largely on the organization. Organizations must marshal their resources to achieve high quality i.e. quality as critical to the customer. Ultimately, it is the customer who experiences a product or service. The voice of the customer is the best source to determine the attributes required in a product or service. Customers always look out for someone to speed up the process. Hence, if customer satisfaction is desired the readiness and speed of the response must be very high. The conviction stage is more about meetings and “paper work”. It is a “plan” for the quality improvement initiative. By the end of this stage the organization should have aligned its business objectives with the Voice of the Customer (VOC), i.e. its goal.

The actionable and measurable strategies begin here. This phase initiates an organization-wide involvement to achieve the desired objective. The quality team is given specific targets and resources for the task to materialize. The definition of quality is important as it shapes the actions of the quality team. Hence, an accurate and simple definition of quality, i.e. conviction for the goal is essential. In this stage employees realize that quality is achievable through root cause determination and elimination. Further, the details of the improvement objective/projects must be made available to everyone. -This fosters employee involvement and enthusiasm and employees are taught to handle similar problems. This stage is sustainable as long as resources are allocated to the improvement effort. However, care must be taken to ensure employee enthusiasm. Ultimately, this stage tests the employees’ commitment towards the quality improvement initiative.

By this time the organization must see quality as integral to the culture of the organization and not as a project. Employees should consider the quality principles as key to problem solving. Improvement initiatives must be converted to a value added perspective for the entire organization. For this, key information must be passed on to all employees as learning. The objective is to proactively solve problems and prevent them from harming the system.

Quality is a core personal value
For an organization to think on similar lines all the employees must view quality as a core personal value.
This step aims at ensuring that all customers receive the same treatment and favours from the organization.

Certainty is all about sustaining the quality improvement process. By now the organization and its elements are well aware of their core competencies, strengths and weakness. During this entire process the organization may receive many “shocks”. When one digs deep to find solutions we wonder how were we living like this – such issues are bound to occur and the organization must be equipped to deal with them. This step addresses questions like
  • Where is your organization? What are your indicators?
  • Where are you? What are your indicators?
  • What does your organization require to reach the next stage?
  • Is quality an initiative, or has it become a core value in your company?
  • How confident are you that quality will remain important to your organization?
For an organization to succeed many elements must fall in place. The key to organization wide success is its workforce. Only through employee support can an organization achieve operational excellence.

TenStep Supplemental Paper | Copyright© 2000-2005 Ten Step, Inc. and C & K Management Limited

Read 11292 times Last modified on Saturday, 25 April 2009 13:02
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