Word Cloud QualityMany folks are concerned about the state of the economy – locally, nationally, and internationally.

I see the same worries in some of my clients, but not in others; I’ve taken a closer look at these two groups of companies, and this is what I’m seeing (unscientific, but interesting nonetheless):

Worried companies

— I’m defining worried companies as the ones who are not in good shape from a Quality standpoint. Oh, their final product quality is fine; it’s the processes that could use some sprucing up. Not sure if this sounds like your company or not:

  • Your final quality product or service is fine; customers are overall happy.
  • However, your company often is jumping through hoops to make this happen. It sometimes takes extraordinary effort to deliver on time — overtime, extra work being done, or even hand-carrying the order through the line.
  • When a change comes through, it requires a lot of special attention to be done ‘right’. It’s not a normal occurrence, and really puts a strain on your organization.
  • When a key person is absent (vacation or sick), the organization has trouble delivering with the same efficiency.
  • Everyone spends time and energy determining who made the mistake, before asking why the mistake was made, or how to fix the mistake

By contrast,

Un-worried companies

– have a noticeably different set of situations:

  • Your final quality product or service is fine; customers are overall happy.
  • It’s no problem for your company to deliver top quality products and services; it’s routine for your organization.
  • When overtime is needed, it’s done with the understanding that this is a temporary situation, and everyone pitches in.
  • Absences, both planned and unplanned, barely cause a ripple in the smooth operations of the organization, as all critical work is documented, cross-trained, and backed up as appropriate.
  • The organization is more concerned about fixing the problem than fixing the blame.

So, what are the steps that companies can take?

They can document the nebulous processes, review the existing processes, and ensure that critical steps in a process are documented and are correct. (Documenting and leaving on a shelf to get dusty is a common, and useless, situation I see in some areas…sigh…)

They can use this time to tighten up their internal overall process flow once step #1 has been done — analyzing it for redundancies, streamlining, and ways to make it more efficient.

Do multiple areas in your organization do almost the same thing?

Are there more than one ‘right’ ways to do a certain process?

Can it be streamlined to deliver the output in less steps, or with lower defects?

They can spend this time to do training – formal training to bring up their employees’ skills; cross-training to ensure that absences are easier to handle; corporate knowledge transfer so when the guru goes on vacation or (gasp!) retires, the knowledge doesn’t walk out the door with him; management training to spruce up your managers’ interpersonal skills so they can handle the questions from nervous employees better; teamwork and teambuilding to let employees know that they are valued, and that working as a team is the best chance you have of staying in business; and a host of other training that I’m sure you can name immediately.

Interestingly, the client who are calling us are the ones that fall into the second group – they continue to focus on “business as usual”, streamlining, becoming more efficient, requesting training, delivering higher quality both internally and externally, etc.

The worriers?

Well, let’s just hope that they don’t lose my phone number as they run around with worried looks on their faces and gloom and doom in their hearts.