Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Facing Cultural Barriers by Leaders to Strengthen a Culture of Quality

This blog post is in response to December 2015 ASQ Influential Voices topic "Facing Cultural Barriers by Leaders to Strengthen a Culture of Quality" a guest post  written by Luciana Paulise, the founder of Biztorming Training & Consulting, Argentina at:

Let me share my perspective of 40 years of professional work in observing for-profit and non-profit organisations globally. I gave a recent presentation on "Role of Leadership to Achieve Zero Defects Culture" at the ASQ Ahmedabad, India Local Member Community (LMC) on 28 November, 2015. The focus of my presentation and published article in the conference proceedings was as follows:

Role of Leadership for Zero Defects Culture based on Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework:

  • Create an ethical and socially responsible organization with good governance practices.
  • Define Vision, Mission, and Values and communicate it constantly to all stakeholders.
  • Direct resources to understand customers' needs and expectations.
  • Encourage use of state-of-the-art information management and knowledge management system.
  • Engage and energize employees to serve customers.
  • Support development of processes/systems to produce innovative products/services.
  • Lead supply chain management to create a sustainable organization with long-term growth.
Leadership commitment, engagement, involvement, and support are crucial in creating Zero Defects Organization Culture.

I concur with Luciana's observations that the responsibility clearly lies with the leadership team to manage their behavior to address spiritual, intellectual, physical, and emotional needs of people in their organizations.

The leadership is all about influencing, igniting, and inspiring ordinary people to do extra-ordinary things. It is up to the leadership team to elevate their organization to great heights with the help of all employees pulling in the same direction.

I look forward to learning from your experience in this area.


  1. Leadership is about striving to strike a balance between being nimble, adaptable and creative. The best leaders always make sure that their employees have the opportunities to shape, create, evolve and envision their future rather than fell as if they are stuck in a never ending conveyor belt. So encourage curiosity and strive to empower, ignite, illuminate and create an atmosphere of trust for the people.

  2. My observation in the last 40 years working and negotiating in various part of the world is that we do not know how to effectively communicate the concept of quality in business and financial term as the quality professionals fail to get the attention of the top management and it’s often because they do little more than regurgitate the requirements of standard
    Keep the Quality Jargons out of the boardroom and talk to them in terms of programs, financial impact and people involvement and collaboration. Avoid ISO/six sigma and lean speak.

    The quality professionals need to come to the boardroom on ideas how to improve efficiency and to reduce cost and risk
    The key to getting the board’s buy-in is the understanding of the critical business issues
    The Quality professions have difficulty selling ideas in financial terms.

    They should provide concise fact based reports that provide an overview what is happening highlighting issues along with proposed solutions
    Inside any company the quality function needs to be seen as a contributing problem solving group and company partner as they develops a new projects or programs. In this way the quality functions contribution- is visible to others and gain the support. The -responsibility and the authority to provide the technical expertise that will ensure the company accomplishes its objectives.

    We need to disassociate the word ‘Quality” from “manager” Our job is not to manage Quality, It is to understand the out-comes required, advise on the constrains help identify the risks and opportunities, and provide advice and guidance on mitigating actions where appropriate.
    Please comment.

  3. I appreciate the foregoing comments shared by Manu and Syed and would like to contribute to the discussion as well.

    When I studied excellence models (Baldrige, EFQM, Canadian Framework for Excellence, Australian Business Excellence Framework), I noted nine principles that described the organizational culture. Each of these principles is directly related to one or more of the best management practices. These interrelationships are captured in the publication (Organizational Excellence Framework) that I published for the benefit of all quality professionals and can be downloaded at no charge here http://organizationalexcellencespecialists.ca/. There is also a free teaser assessment that quality professionals can use to self-assess the culture of their organization against these nine principles here http://www.qlbs.com/OrgEx/OrgExFramework.html

  4. Syed and Dawn, thanks for taking the topic forward with your excellent thoughts.


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