World Quality Week – The Importance of Leadership

William WhittakerThis week is World Quality Week! This campaign hosted by Chartered Quality Institute celebrates the quality management profession and aims to raise more awareness about the role quality plays in organisational growth and prosperity. So we decided to get our Managing Consultant William to give us his thoughts….

Raising awareness of quality in the workplace with World Quality Week is a great initiative. I have been involved in quality management for over 25 years and have written two dissertations on its use in the workplace. Much has changed over this time, but what hasn’t changed is the general misunderstanding of what quality could mean to an individual, their job, and their company.

Where do Organisations Fall Short?

ISO 9001Quality is still seen by many individuals as someone else’s responsibility, nothing to do with their day job. They don’t understand the direct benefits of how it could save time, reduce bureaucracy and remove the daily firefighting allowing them time to be proactive.

Professionals and organisations across all industries accept insufficient planning, minimum management of foreseeable risk or a lack of adequate competency levels on a daily basis. This means that the quality of products and services that reaches the end user is often below the levels expected. In my experience, the root cause of this is that leadership are not aware and/or don’t have time to consider the full benefits of quality management in the workplace.

All of our customers at WA Management have a management system in place. Some are certified to UKAS accredited bodies, which can cover: Quality, Environmental, Health and Safety and Information Security. In some cases, customers have them all. However, irrespective of the management system in place, all of our customers have leadership that has developed a business culture unique to them.

What is Leadership?

Plan Do Check Act CycleLeadership as defined by the Oxford Dictionary is the ability of an individual or a group of individuals to influence and guide members of an organisation. Leaders are expected to make sound and often difficult decisions, create and communicate a clear vision, set and regularly review companywide objectives, and provide employees with the resources, knowledge and tools necessary to achieve those objectives.

Leadership comes in many different styles, including:

  • Authoritative
  • Coaching
  • Democratic
  • Laissez-faire

Whatever the leadership style, quality management, as with all management systems identifies it as a key principle. A principle that the Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) cycle and risk based thinking is applied to in order to create a leadership framework.

Leadership Framework

Robots working on carsThe purpose of the leadership framework is to deliver a company culture that delivers compliance to process across the business. Leadership incorporates a mixture of skills, mindset and knowledge and is set out by the Institute of Directors. Leadership using this framework along with the PDCA cycle and risk-based thinking set about developing an internal culture within their organisation – a culture focused on delivering the product or service right first time to the customer rather than relying on final inspections or rework to highlight and rectify last minute defects.

Relying on after work checks is where time is lost and money spent investigating failures, putting them right, and arguing who is paying for it. This is prevented when leadership provides and invests in process compliance through its employees, so they are trained and knowledgeable to plan, consider the foreseeable risk and proactively manage to mitigate them. Where technology is used to proactively manage the product and services to mitigate noncompliance, non-conforming or defected products and services are reduced. This directly and positively impacts individuals and organisations as it reduces bureaucracy and risk across the organisation which in turn allows for proactive management.

Moving forward in the coming years, with the workplace and technology changing at such a speed, leadership will look at how standards can further increase through the use of new technologies such as digitalisation, robotics and artificial intelligence as set out by the Quality 4.0 (Q4.0) initiative from the CQI. The world of quality is changing and leadership is needed to ensure all organisations rise to challenge ahead.

Written by William Whittaker, Managing Consultant at WA Management.

We can provide external support with the implementation and running of all management systems – visit our website to learn more about the types of consultancy we provide, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.