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From compliance to performance through quality culture

  • ISO 9001
  • Opinion
  • Soft skills
  • Author: Mark Eydman
    CQP MCQI, Founder and Lead Consultant, Six Pillars Consulting

    Today’s quality professionals must influence, motivate, and communicate to effect change and continue to deliver quality excellence in ever-changing environments. CQI member, Mark Eydman CQP MCQI, Founder and Lead Consultant, Six Pillars Consulting, shares his insights on how quality professionals can successfully overcome challenges, including isolation, to deliver quality excellence.

    With little doubt, the role of quality professionals in organisations of all types continues to evolve with increasing speed. The context in which we and our host organisations operate is highly dynamic across numerous dimensions including political, economic, sociological, and technical. Our traditional competences related to tools and techniques remain important but often not sufficient to meet emerging demands. The personality traits considered important in our recruitment, and supported our early career development, must be adapted to meet, and overcome, new challenges.

    Acknowledging isolation in quality professionals

    Within this context, quality professionals can be left feeling isolated and overwhelmed. They might be the only active quality advocate within the organisation, operating among many other disciplines with objectives that may not be well aligned. This feeling of isolation can lead to various outcomes. The most obvious is a working outlook that all efforts are in vain, while knocking one’s head against an organisational brick wall. In some instances, the difficulties faced can develop into stress, even depression, leading to mental and physical health consequences. 

    Championing quality culture

    Increasingly, quality professionals are choosing to address the situation through systematic means rather than relying on ineffective operational interventions.  

    Portrait photo of Mark Eydman CQP MCQI, Managing Director, Six Pillars Consulting

    The development of an embedded quality culture is one chosen strategy, where the quality culture characteristics are woven into the broader organisational culture, grounded in beliefs, behaviours, and shared values.

    The recently issued ISO 10010 (Quality Management - Guidance to understand, evaluate, and improve organisational quality culture) is raising the profile of this approach, recognising and sharing good practices. One specific challenge can be the practical definition of an appropriate quality culture. Observed approaches to this issue include the adoption of some components of the existing cultural framework or the use of some of the established seven quality management principles from ISO 9001. Definition is then an enabler for measurement, analysis, action, and improvement. 

    Overcoming challenges 

    As with many other features of quality deployment, forced compliance is no longer seen as the best means to drive collective and individual engagement of stakeholders. Alignment with broad and local objectives and the associated development of an alliance network may well deliver quicker, larger, and more robust outcomes. New strategies are likely to require enhanced ‘soft’ skills and competences rather than the ‘hard’ skills which have been the traditional bedrock.  

    Communication, influence and convince, motivate, and change management should be appearing more frequently in job descriptions and personal development reviews for today’s — and future — quality professionals.

    Mark Eydman CQP MCQI, Founder and Lead Consultant, Six Pillars Consulting

    Building a supportive network

    As described earlier, quality professionals often work independently — which can be lonely — so development of, and access to, supportive, professional networks is beneficial. Active membership of professional institutes and trade bodies can be helpful and rewarding. Expanding local networks may not deliver relevant experience immediately, but certainly the chance for face-to-face contact, shared experiences, and a broader perspective.   

    Join the CQI conversation on quality culture throughout 2024 at Quality Live in June and World Quality Week in November.

    Discover how to shift your focus from compliance to performance through a robust quality culture. In the run-up to, and during, World Quality Week, we’ll be sharing effective strategies to enhance your skills and champion quality excellence. 

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