Influential Voices: Doing Good through Quality

Okay, so I’m a little late to the draw since Paul posted about Social Responsibility in July… but my summers are not just busy – they are brutal, so I hope that my readers will forgive me. What triggered my responding today was an article by fellow Green Mountain College MBA Graduate Bryan Sheehan on Sustainableplant.com, titled “Sustainability is the New ‘Quality’ for 21st Century Companies.”

Within ASQ, we talk about Social Responsibility, and use the definition from ISO 26000. Bryan argues that “sustainability is just as mission-critical as any other vital function, such as quality, customer service or employee safety.” In using the term sustainability, this expands to include John Elkington’s concept of a Triple Bottom Line, including not just people and planet, but also that remaining profitable is the also key to remaining in business.

As quality professionals, when we apply our quality tools to doing good, it is likely that we are also being sustainable in our actions, because by their nature quality tools will typically help to reduce the costs of poor quality. When we consider sustainability in applying these tools, we can amplify their effects.

What are you doing to help your organization become more sustainable?

Influential Voices: Going Beyond the Traditional Quality Function?

I had to laugh at Paul‘s question this month, “How well understood and embraced are the contributions of the quality professional beyond what is traditionally thought of as the quality function?” since the majority of what I do in my own job is now what folks consider to be quality. Sure, I do some things that typically fall within the quality function. Since the beginning of summer, I have been delivering hands on workshops on problem solving, and more recently trained a group on auditor skills. I facilitate our quality council. I help get data from our corrective action software. I field questions on management system standards.

On the other hand, I do a lot of things that fall outside the typical quality management function. I am the project lead for our sustainability reporting. I administer our corrective action software, typically an IT function, and I am responsible for our corporate document control, typically under configuration management. I’ve seen typically blurring of functions among the rest of our corporate quality group.

I think that this has come from the need to be agile and act quickly to respond to new needs within the organization. Rather than leaving a gap, we fill it. Is this smart? I’d say rather that it is survivalist. Businesses that can’t adapt are not going to be able to stay in business in the future, at least not in manufacturing.