CCC’s approach is similar to the one it pioneered in the field of safety more than 20 years ago, successfully applying the most advanced principles of organizational culture and behavior to reinforce traditional EHS programs. These efforts have helped dramatically reduce accident and injury rates for our clients.
Nowhere was this more evident than with the Inspection & Repair Service division of General Electric where, over a five-year period, the Injury & Illness rate at participating facilities was reduced by more than 50%. Operations and quality managers familiar with the process and its success–as well as the way it enhanced communication, trust, and responsibility among and between workers and management–saw no reason why the same principles could not be used to reinforce their ongoing quality efforts. They asked CCC to partner with them to develop this novel concept of Culture-Based Quality.
All too often, quality programs are seen as add-ons or overlays to existing management systems, competing for attention and resources. In a positive quality culture, management systems are integrated with quality efforts. We have found that in a positive cultural environment, employees at all levels take ownership of and responsibility for quality service and products. Leadership is aligned and all levels of the organization share the same overriding goal of achieving maximum client satisfaction. Instead of employees shrugging off responsibility and pointing fingers, they recognize their own role in the quality continuum. Quality is no longer a step-child, the sole responsibility of a few inspectors and quality managers, but of every employee.
We have developed a five-step process to improve the quality culture of a company or facility (even those, like GE, already achieving high quality).
- The first step is an introduction to the quality culture process. It can be presented to a leadership group or a broader audience.
- The second step is always an assessment of the existing culture. This assessment includes a validated perception survey, focus group discussion, and interviews with key personnel. This is the best way to discover what are the strengths and weakness of the culture, which to leverage and which need to be improved (by joseph at testsforge). Wisdom says that employees always know what the real issues are. The challenge is to get them to share these ideas and to become engaged in solving them.
- After identifying key issues, these are then prioritized to identify those that can have the “greatest bang for the buck,” i.e. greatest impact on quality, with the least effort.
- The fourth step is team formation and training, engaging as many employees as practical in the quality culture effort. Often a two-tier structure of Guidance Team and Grassroots Quality Team(s) works best.
- Project planning and execution is the final step. Culture-Based Quality is plant and project-specific. It works both to enhance the attitudes and beliefs of employees, as well as to improve specific conditions and systems.