Volume 47, February 2005: Whither Quality?

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

This is a monthly electronic magazine for anyone who wants to be a better leader, coach, facilitator, or simply, to tune up their people skills. It is a complimentary publication, devoted to the next evolution of Quality Thinking.

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2005 ISSN # 1545-8873

“It will not suffice to have customers merely satisfied. A satisfied customer may switch … It is necessary to innovate, to predict the needs of the customer, give him more.” — W. Edwards Deming

“If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves.” — Thomas Edison

“Company goals should always be geared to being the best in the world, rather than just slightly better than last year.” — Jim Sierk, VP of Quality, Xerox Corporation


  • What’s Hot in Leadership
  • Maintaining Yourself as a Leader
  • Frequently Asked Questions from Leaders
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Useful Websites & Newsletters
  • Articles/Publications

What’s Hot in Leadership

  • Viewing quality as “value” – providing good service at a good price.
  • Continuously improving products, services, and processes.
  • Instituting a program of self-improvement for everyone.
  • Putting everyone to work on the quality transformation.
  • Walking the quality talk.

Maintaining Yourself as a Leader

What value do you bring to your organization as a leader? Everyone should ask this question every day. What if you could rally everyone around the mission of improving outcomes, delighting customers, and reducing costs from waste, errors, rework – i.e., CRUD™ (Complexity, Redundancy, Unnecessary Steps, and Delays)? Go ahead, model the way. Remove a needless piece of paper, a pointless meeting, an insulting policy. Demonstrate, educate, acknowledge everyone’s efforts,and celebrate!

Frequently Asked Questions

“How do you define Quality? It’s such an amorphous concept.”
Quality has been poorly defined, if at all. I prefer to think of it as Value, where value = outcomes + customer service + cost. Value equals good product or good service at a good price. Outcomes equal results for the individual. Customer service equals actions which not only satisfy but also delight customers. Cost equals price to the customer. Includes non-tangibles like inconvenience, discomfort, wasted time.
“Many leaders feel they have tried quality and failed. What happened?”
  • It took too long.
  • The changes made were superficial and incremental, not radical.
  • Their approach was academic and not action learning.
  • Leadership was invisible or low profile.
  • Education followed only the organization chart.
  • They used analytical tools only, not tools for innovation.
  • They left out major constituencies (e.g., Board, community, vendors, customers, physicians).
  • It was an add-on initiative and they did not permit time for teams, facilitators, and training.
  • They stumbled over measurement.
  • They lost momentum.
  • Too little attention was given to culture.
  • They did not celebrate victories, no matter how small.

What was your experience? Please contact us.

“I get the importance of culture, but what’s a quality culture?”
You will see and feel:
  • A constancy of purpose
  • Continual improvement and innovation
  • Pride in work
  • Continuous learning and joy in learning
  • A spirit of collaboration, not internal competition
  • Clear styles of decision-making and fair process
  • Communication in all directions – full of listening and open questions
  • Distribution of power and leadership
  • Enabled teams
  • Skills in consensus-building and conflict mediation
  • Staff responsible for their processes and customers
  • An obsession with delighting customers
  • An appreciation for variation and everything being an N of 1
  • Use of data and the scientific method for decisions
  • HR policies (compensation, appraisal, reward) that reflect systems thinking
  • Problems linked to processes, not bad people
  • Learning from mistakes and errors
  • High trust, low fear
  • Everyone committed to the values of quality
  • A belief that all people are inherently good and everyone counts
  • Everyone knows their job and how it adds value


Thought leading organization for quality in healthcare: Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

Self-study, interactive training and other products: QualityCoach.

Key Associates offers customized training in continuous improvement and innovation. Contact us.

Useful Websites & Newsletters

Relevant Keyzines: Innovation, Keeping Customers, Teams, Organizational Culture, and Transformation

Paperless quality management system and other products: Quality Manufacturing Associates.

A listing of links to quality sites: Nationally Recognized Performance Measures for Quality Improvement Activities.


Books are linked to Amazon.com descriptions.


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