Friday, December 4, 2015

Talking To The C-Suite About Quality

This blog post is in response to November 2015 ASQ Influential Voices topic "Talking To The C-Suite About Quality"a guest post  written by Dr. Suresh Gettala, a Director at ASQ India at:

In his post Dr. Gettala made the following key points to move quality at C-Suite Level: 
  1. The Long Term - Short Term Continuum
  2. The Language of Metrics
  3. Economic Case for Quality
  4. Success Anecdotes
  5. The Big Q Approach
Let me offer my thoughts on above points as follows:

     1. The Long-Term - Short Term Continuum:

For C-Level executives it is imperative that they focus on long-term (3-5 years) and short-term (6 months - 12 months) business plan tactics when they develop Vision, Mission, Values, and Strategies (VMVS) for an organization. However, they need to be nimble enough to reevaluate VMVS when there are market, regulatory, or technological disruptions. 

Quality should be a common denominator while using SWOT Analysis for strategic planning. During regular reviews of strategic plan a focus should be on achieving results through continuous process improvements using a Balanced Scorecard approach.

     2.  The Language of Metrics:

As we are familiar with a Baldrige winner's phrase "In God we trust, everyone else, please bring the data". C-Suites should be made aware of critical dashboard metrics on Customers, Employees, Processes, and Finance (Balanced Scorecard) for a given strategy. Again quality is an integral part of the Balanced Scorecard metrics

     3.  Economic Case for Quality:

The easiest way to connect with C-Suites is using Cost of Quality approach. The Cost of Quality tool lets the executives know where is the waste in the system due to External and Internal Failures and how to address them through Prevention and Appraisals. As management understand the language of money, they are amenable to provide necessary resources to reduce the Cost of Quality through continuous process improvements.

     4. Success Anecdotes:

Another good phrase from a Baldrige winner is "It is OK to steal shamelessly, just provide credit". The central idea is Not to Reinvent the Wheel. If there are best practices available, understand and adopt them in your organizations as applicable. This is where one needs to work top management to harness the power of Benchmarking. We can certainly leverage best practice examples of US Baldrige Winners whose profiles are available at (1999-2014) at:

     5. The Big Q Approach:

At AT&T Bell Laboratories under the leadership of Senior Vice President Mr. Don Leonard in the Switching Systems Business Unit there was a major focus was on Big Q = Small q (performance) x Schedule (timeliness) x Cost (budget) . Provide customers what they want, when they want it, at an affordable price. The obligation for all employees is to focus on the above three metrics in their day-to-day work to achieve Big Q for the organization. It is easy to strike up a conversation at C-Level when one speaks of key efforts directed at achieving Big Q for the organization.

I would like to share few references as follows:
  • Manu Vora Discusses Government Quality in India (2014) at:      
I am looking forward to your experience in talking to the C-Suite about Quality.    


  1. Manu - Great post. Thank for sharing your knowledge and all of the great links to other resources.

  2. Good ideas. Agree with your thoughts. Especially like being nimble with plans.

    Dr. Steve Pollock, ASQ Fellow

  3. Good and useful discussion.
    Dove-tailing short-term into long-term is the key with COQ being the evidence.

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  5. The function of quality has evolved from more product inspection to an all-encompassing TQM.
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