Published: 6 Aug 2020

From a variety of positions, governments around the world are trying to kick-start their economies and recover from the constraints of lock-down. But return to what?

The impacts of Covid-19 on organisations have been varied, ranging from a complete cessation of activity to an overwhelming in demand. And so too will be the varied context in which organisations operate with and beyond a Covid-19 infected world. Leadership teams around the world will no doubt be scratching their heads to decide how to proceed.

We know that the principles and practices of Quality management have endured global crises and have proven to be of value when facing disruptive change. We have worked tirelessly to adapt, improve and deploy a range of tools and techniques that have real power to help organisations navigate times like these; often in roles where our true value is unseen or under-valued.

Our competency framework provides a credible and powerful framework to help us deliver value in this crisis. By example, here are three ways that our approaches to Governance, Assurance and Improvement can add much needed value: 

1. Does the business model fit the new future?

As we learn to live with Covid-19, for what is still an unknown period, the way in which people interact with the workplace, process and each other will have to change. Business models will need to be rapidly redesigned to remain fit for purpose. The need to track and trace the movement of people will become as important as material and data have been, and that will also raise some ethical issues. How is it possible to fully appreciate all of the changes required and the new risks that could be introduced, without some reference point like the management system? We understand the ‘DNA’ of our businesses (we are one of the few functions that see the whole end-to-end value network) and are trained and equipped to coach leaders and managers through this transformation in a measured and systematic way – and not through a “do it, try it, fix it”, purely empirical approach

Is now the right time to engage with the development of new business models, systems and processes to de-risk this “new future” and get it right first time?

2. How can I be sure that my products and services are still fit for purpose?

For years, assurance has been seen as the raison d’etre of the quality function. In turn, the processes of audit and inspection have, arguably, been over-relied upon to deliver assurance. Until the advent of Covid-19 these processes relied heavily on an “in-person” approach. But how viable is this method in a world of social distancing that varies country-by-country, and where overseas travel is heavily restricted or even prohibited? We know that world of quality is facing up to this and adapting its ways to facilitate remote audit, but to what extent will this continue to assure product and service reliability, and conformity to regulation? Assurance is more than audit, and we know that. It is us that understands how to assess risk across the range of approaches available to gain assurance. Through careful analysis and design we can advise accountable leaders how to adapt the whole system of assurance to effect and not just move audit “off-line”.

Does this present a golden opportunity to use our professional competence to advise accountable leaders how to re-design the whole system of assurance?

3.  How do I deliver change quickly and effectively?

Delivering change is not widely thought to be the job of quality people. In my discussions with business leaders I often get the impression that change management is the role of another team or part of any managers job. But our quality manager’s kitbag contains a range of tools and techniques that can be combined to deliver change better, faster and cheaper. We are trained and skilled in working with teams and individuals to coach, mentor and drive robust change processes, and know how to integrate the ‘new order’ back into the ‘old order’ in a way that does not disrupt or cause collateral risk.

Is now the right time to demonstrate the value of the tools and methods we posses to make transformational change happen?

Are your leaders calling you up for help? Indeed, are you fully professionally qualified and able to evidence these skills, experience and knowledge? There is help out there. The CQI has established a network of support and there is a range of CPD content from which you can find answers. Whatever way you decide to help your leaders to chart your organisation through these turbulent times, your stakeholders will look to you for leadership in a rapidly changing and uncertain context. Are you ready for the new world, for the Covid shift?