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A collection of six articles commissioned by the CQI from experts at Oakland Consulting looks at the new challenges facing the quality profession.
How much is quality management worth to the UK? A groundbreaking study revealed that in 2011 quality management practices contributed £90bn to the economy (six per cent of GDP), £9.1bn in taxes to the treasury and 1.4 million jobs.
In 2020 people and organisations around the globe were faced with unprecedented challenges. Most of us were left searching for processes and methods to help us navigate an ever-changing landscape, in both our personal and professional lives.
For me, home schooling together with organising the CQI’s International Quality Awards were among the more demanding aspects of the year. However, by adapting to evolving needs on both fronts, I was able to play a key part in their success.
A developing awards brand
As the planning for the 2020 quality awards began, we were fresh off the back of a successful event the year before, which we also combined with the CQI’s 100th birthday celebrations. The awards were heading into their fourth year, the brand was well-established, and there was unprecedented interest from professionals and partners, so it was time to scale up the event. We had also just sourced a new venue on London’s Park Lane and launched an improved list of award categories.
In the background, however, the talk of a mystery virus spreading through a province in China was starting to become a reality closer to home. We all know what followed next, and with this came numerous questions including what to do about the International Quality Awards.
Change to our thinking
Continuing to plan the awards as we had done previously was now not an option. It looked as if restrictions might be lifted, but we weren’t convinced that they would be lifted enough. And even if they were, we had other considerations. From a financial perspective, we couldn’t guarantee that we would be able to sell tickets. What’s more, marketing budgets were under pressure because we could no longer rely on sponsorship. It also didn’t feel right to be hosting a glitzy awards ceremony in the middle of a global pandemic.
Boosting morale, celebrating excellence
However, we knew we didn’t want to cancel the awards completely: they help to raise the profile of quality management, and the individuals within it, and provide professional development opportunities. But could we still meet these objectives with a virtual event? We also felt that the International Quality Awards would lift people’s spirits in what were already testing times.
Once the decision was made to host the awards online, the project team set about reviewing the project plan, taking out items that were no longer relevant, adjusting timescales and adding in tasks that were specific to a virtual event.
We were initially worried about entry numbers, but we needn’t have been. Our awards management system, Award Force, gave us visibility over all entries in progress and submitted. From the day we opened the awards, all of our key metrics held up with previous years. In fact, the end result exceeded our expectations: we received 107 submissions, surpassing the 2019 figure by one entry. The CQI was also extremely proud that the 2020 entries spanned 23 countries and five continents, making our awards truly international.
The shortlisting process
Once the International Quality Awards close for entries, our volunteer judges, led by the chair of judges, Estelle Clark, take the lead. A panel of three judges:
- Reviews the entries in each category against set criteria
- Applies marks to each submission
- Shortlists between two and five entrants, depending on the strength of their submissions
If the quantity of entries in 2020 didn’t disappoint, neither did the quality. We had some fantastic submissions from individuals and organisations across the globe.
Interviews with the judges
Once the announcement of the finalists is made, this usually marks the end of the entry process for most awards, and then the focus turns to planning for the ceremony itself. However, the International Quality Awards are different. Shortlisting doesn’t stop there, which is why our selection process is by far the most robust of any I’ve been involved in.
We invite all finalists to an interview with 'three judges for each category and the chair of the awards, which, in a normal year, would be face-to-face. But because restrictions were still in place, we scheduled interviews via video conferencing. Finalists presented their entry in more detail, took questions from the judging panel, and then the judges decided on the winners. This information was, of course, embargoed until the event.
Mastering the logistics
Planning an event for 400 people is both complicated and intense. The work that goes into executing every aspect of the schedule, down to the most minute detail, is quite incredible. Even an hour-long virtual ceremony, whilst not quite as involved, requires vast amounts of preparation to run smoothly.
The lead-up to the International Quality Awards was slightly strange this year.
When organising a physical event there is so much that can go wrong: you spend weeks going through different scenarios to ensure that everything runs like clockwork. The virtual event, on the other hand, did not create as much worry beforehand, but if anything went wrong on the day, it would have been catastrophic and outside of our control.
What we could control, though, we controlled well and were better prepared than we had ever been. The week before the event was peppered with technical tests and rehearsals for speakers, finalists and presenters. We went into the day feeling confident that we had everything as ready as we possibly could, aided by the technical support of our event partners.
Our inaugural online awards
We had watched several virtual award ceremonies in the lead up to ours to assess what worked and what didn’t. At the outset we aimed to:
Keep the award presentations as close to the usual format as possible. This was a gamble, and something that no other ceremony had attempted. It added to a list of things that could potentially go wrong but giving our winners an opportunity to speak and accept the awards was hugely important for us
Keep the citations of both winners and finalists. Again, our aim was to give the audience a better sense of why they had been selected
At 12:00 on 18 November 2020, after a few last-minute run-throughs, it was go time. Our CEO, Vince Desmond, kicked off proceedings.
A virtual success
I don’t think I’m biased in saying that the awards looked fantastic, which was testament to the work of the CQI’s Marketing team. They collaborated with the Events team from the start of the process, ensuring all of our portals, forms, guides, comms and ultimately the International Quality Awards event itself was on brand and delivered our goals.
The awards ceremony also went well, despite a couple of technical glitches and some lessons learned from our first online event of this size. Feedback has also been extremely positive, so we are happy with the end result.
Another unique aspect of the International Quality Awards is that the CQI provides each finalist and winner with a detailed feedback report. We also give each entrant guidance on how to improve their entries in the future. This helps to:
- Close the loop on the process
- Adds value
- Encourage entrants to apply again
- Support entrants to strengthen their submissions in the future
The awards will be back in 2022, so if you are a professional working in quality management, please consider applying as an individual, team or organisation.
Head of Commercial
Every year the CQI celebrates World Quality Day to raise the profile of quality management and its important role in business and society.
Image description: Preview of infographic poster exploring how quality management helps create customer value.
Every year we also focus on a different theme to highlight the wide-reaching impact of our profession. In 2020 World Quality Day centred on creating customer value, which prompted discussions and discovery across business. What does customer value mean? How do companies understand and meet customer needs? What role does quality management play in creating customer value?
CQI members and quality professionals used World Quality Day to celebrate individuals, teams and organisations, not only creating but improving customer value.
Supporting a quality culture
The quality profession is at the heart of business, helping to develop a customer culture that places an emphasis on:
Customer needs – quality is defined by the customer not the company. Businesses that recognise this are able to grow and innovate much more easily
Product and service quality – collaborating with customers to improve the quality of products and services and resolve issues is a recipe for success. This also needs to be backed by a strong quality management system
Customer loyalty and confidence - in the value businesses can deliver is one of the biggest results of a quality culture
Customer-centricity – this feeds business resilience and means that organisations not only survive in challenging times, but are able to adapt and grow
Engaging others in creating value
Quality professionals and their colleagues considered these talking points in events and activities on creating customer value. Examples included:
Pro Bono workshops to educate local business communities on quality issues
Brainstorming sessions and interactive virtual events with internal and external stakeholders
Training programmes on how to improve workplace quality and customer satisfaction
World Quality Day quizzes and competitions
ISO standards and customer value
Karolina Lachi Kolarova, Business Unit Director for Bureau Veritas Group, told us how her organisation was marketing World Quality Day. “We are encouraging businesses to consider the importance of quality management amid recent research detailing how the coronavirus pandemic is rewiring customer demands. Being certified against ISO 9001:2015 is a great way to demonstrate customer value, improving the reliability of business operations at a time when these are increasingly disrupted by the pandemic.”
Indeed, implementing a quality management system certified to a best practice international standard has several benefits. These range from providing reassurance that your products and services meet customer and regulatory requirements to increasing your business resilience.
Individuals and organisations shared stories on what customer value means for them. They also noted how quality professionals help to deliver consistent stakeholder value and how that value sits at the core of the quality management practice.
For CQI volunteer Mark Eydman, CQP MCQI, Founder and Lead Consultant at Six Pillars Consulting UK, quality is about: “making organisations perform for their stakeholders, and for most organisations, customers will be the most important of those stakeholders”.
We collaborate with customers to find new solutions to address their emerging challenges.
Derek Geyer CQP MCQI, Quality Lead at Balfour Beatty Kilpatrick, told us that his organisation engaged with the World Quality Day theme based on ‘No forward error’. This involved making a pledge of excellence to customers. Derek added: “My commitment to ‘No forward error’ is to ensure that any issues are identified and resolved, so that they’re not being handed back to our customers or become a legacy issue for our organisation.”
And on World Quality Day 2020, Rami Qasem, Executive Vice President at Baker Hughes Digital Solutions, shared a pertinent LinkedIn post. His organisation delivers quality to their customers in two ways: “We anticipate market needs by innovating and upgrading our equipment, software, services and processes, and we collaborate with customers to find new solutions to address their emerging challenges”.
Find out more about how to create customer value in your organisation.
The term sustainability can have many different interpretations, especially in business. However, for the CQI, its meaning is simple. Companies with a sustainable approach meet their needs without compromising the needs of their customers, stakeholders or our planet. Sustainability is embedded in their corporate culture. It is part of their values. And it is supported by a robust quality management system.
Now, more than ever before, there are so many reasons for organisations to embrace sustainability. These range from attracting investors to achieve growth ambitions to meeting customer expectations and increasing satisfaction. When it comes to the quality of products and processes, sustainability is becoming more and more critical, so too are quality management principles and methods.
Next frontier for quality management?
In 2019 the CQI interviewed several national quality bodies and asked for their thoughts on the quality profession’s future opportunities and threats. The digital shift came out as a hot topic, and everyone agreed that finding new ways to create customer value is central to this.
Our experience of the pandemic in 2020 and of changes in global trading arrangements has rebalanced our focus:
- Supply chains and operations have seen a shift from efficiency to resilience and ‘Just-in-time’ to ‘Just in case’ - at least for now
- The ‘Need for speed’ has underlined the value of rapid, lean innovation while also reducing risk for customers and society
- The World Economic Forum’s 2021 DAVOS meeting highlighted the increasing importance of sustainability not just at a policy level but within business too
The European Organisation for Quality (EOQ) has also laid down a challenge with its 2021 World Quality Week theme: Quality: the next frontier.
Sustainability – an agent for change?
I mentioned earlier that organisations are facing many drivers for sustainability, which include:
Customer attitudes and behaviours to sustainability are complex. On a business-to-business level many organisations are keen to associate with partners and suppliers that behave ethically and sustainably. They are also fast to act when there is a problem with those suppliers.
Take, for example, the fall of British PR company Bell-Pottinger which was rapidly abandoned by its clients after a scandal hit in 2017. The psychology of how we behave becomes trickier as we try to balance making the right choice with cost considerations. As the playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht said, ‘Food comes first, then morality’.
Driven by legislation and consumer expectations, UK retailer Tesco removed 20 million items of plastic from its products over Christmas 2020. The fact that their public statements on this were made by their quality director underlines how sustainability is increasingly critical to quality. It also shows that innovation can help consumers to act in line with their values.
The UK’s 2020 Environment Bill includes reducing consumption of material resources. Alongside this, the UK’s Green Alliance is lobbying the UK government to consider rewarding extended product warranty periods with tax breaks to help reduce waste. If this becomes law, economies, sectors and organisations that are innovative and good at managing reliability will win.
In 2020 the UK’s Stewardship Code was introduced, adding more responsibility for societal impact and corporate behaviour to company director accountabilities.
At the international level, ISO is developing a new Corporate Governance standard. The new standard, to which the CQI has been contributing actively to via our liaison status, places more emphasis on sustainability. Of course, the quality management system allows the board to understand the voice of the stakeholder and build strategy and policy into ways of working. In fact, this is an example of the type of operational governance that the CQI worked on with the UK’s Institute of Directors.
Investors in sustainability
As we know, investment decisions can make or break a company. Today, those decisions are increasingly being based on sustainability considerations. Many people will be aware of US billionaire Larry Fink’s call to CEOs to focus on the long-term business sustainability and social and environmental sustainability.
It is also interesting to see Blackrock sustainability staff being included in US President Biden’s emergent team. Equally, the Germans have always been good at distilling concepts. The term ‘Industry 4.0’ has its provenance in Germany which has long said that ‘Green’ (good environmental behaviour) = ‘Green’ (more profit). Investors agree, and the literature on the business case for sustainability in publications, such as Havard Business Review, is growing.
We’re already seeing sustainability creeping into quality standards and models that customers may recognise or require:
- The new EFQM model references the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
- ISO management system standards embrace the concept of ‘interested parties’
- ISO itself has a focus on sustainability
- Bcorp has introduced new voluntary standards to sector ethical supply initiatives, such as in the toy industry
Critical to quality
The trend appears to be that a quality product or service must be sustainable as well as economically viable, useful, available and safe. Equally, a quality organisation is one where sustainability is truly critical to its processes, from ethical supply to environmental impact.
Organisations are free to make their own strategic choices on how they position themselves competitively. However, environmental and social sustainability is moving from being a PR exercise to being at the core of values, value propositions and business sustainability.
Today’s quality is tomorrow’s sustainability
Because sustainability is a big issue, health, safety and environmental management communities are all focusing on sustainability. The UK’s Institute of Environmental Management, for example, is using the strapline ‘Transforming the world to sustainability’.
Yet, in the same way that today’s quality is tomorrow’s safety, we can also say that today’s quality is tomorrow’s sustainability. The worst that can happen is that professions compete rather than collaborate. So we must engage with our peer professions to make the most of our competence and expertise.
With that in mind, the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) is conducting a review of Total Quality Management (TQM). TQM in this context sees quality as creating value for society and customers through ESG (environmental, social and governance). This underlines that the principles and methods of quality management are relevant and useful to the sustainability agenda for organisations and society.
And in the January 2020 edition of the CQI’s Quality World magazine, JUSE stated that, “Within a company the chief quality officer must act as a quarterback in leading the corporate culture of quality on a companywide scale. This means instilling the essence of business management and quality to all employees, understanding the corporate ethics for the company (as manufacturer), the customers (as consumers) and society, then using it in human resource development.”
Sustainability may not be a ‘new’ frontier, but it is one that the quality profession can make a real difference to if we embrace it.
The CQI does not only support quality professionals we also lead the quality profession by bringing topics such as sustainability to the fore.
CEO, Chartered Quality Institute
The eco-design of good quality products is becoming increasingly important. We’ve recently seen more demand for eco-friendly design standards, first for energy efficiency and now for the total lifetime impact that a product has on the world’s resources.
The EU led the initial drive, but the UK government is now matching this, and Brexit won’t change its position. Both manufacturers and consumers will have to get used to creating, repairing, reusing, and recycling better quality and longer-lasting products. This is where quality management comes in: it has a crucial part to play in sustainability for both business and society.
The UK’s load of rubbish
As the world’s second-worst offender for electronic waste (Norway tops the list), the UK generates a total of 29.5kg of electronic waste per person compared to 7.3kg globally. This might not sound like much but try carrying 30 bags of sugar. What’s more, a report by the Green Alliance found that our environmental impact goes beyond how we manage our rubbish and recycling. We’re also depleting resources of key metals, which are being manufactured at 10 times the rate that they are being mined.
Quality is far more than what is produced
Until recently, the reliability of products was based on what customers expect rather than on regulation. Rapidly developing technologies have not only shortened product lifecycles, but they have also affected our need for products that last. As consumers, we seem to be more wowed by unpacking, using it, and owning it.
But what we call quality is changing and will develop further as we become more concerned by the longer-term damage that the products we buy have on the environment. There is also the opportunity for regulators to enter the game with standards that make it compulsory for manufacturers to embrace responsible design as well as delivery.
The Green Alliance is already calling for more stringent criteria to make:
- Products durable, repairable, and upgradeable. This includes carefully considering how recyclable and raw materials are used
- 10-year warranty promises as the standard for some white goods. If current proposals become a reality, we could soon have ‘product passports’ that include warranty, social and environmental information
Our circular economy is expanding
The world is starting to take more responsibility for design and delivery as part of building a circular economy. This involves moving away from take-make- waste approaches to care-share-repair solutions. Focusing on total product lifecycles is set to become the norm as the public become more environmentally aware, more demanding, and more powerful on social media.
No business involved in supplying products to customers can ignore what’s happening in the market. And change could suddenly move rapidly and be either an opportunity or a threat.
A bright future for quality management?
Using quality management principles, practices, and tools in the right way will help to meet society’s demands by:
- Designing for quality and reliability to extend product lifetimes and conserve scarce resources
- Producing responsibly to reduce irreclaimable waste
- Making better use of products to counter climate change and help to protect our planet for generations to come
The CQI is leading the way on the sustainability agenda. Our aim is to dispel myths that quality is all about inspection and management systems like ISO 9001 and support professionals to address the challenges of a greener economy. And ‘green’ can also be ‘lean’; it doesn’t have to come at a cost.
Quality from end-to-end is what we need to meet the climate change demands of the next decade.
Quality World is the CQI’s flagship magazine. It covers news, views and tools on quality management and is a popular member benefit, so why change it?
Over the last year, the world has had to adapt, both at work and in our private lives. We also recognise the value of being responsive. Our members have told us that they want more readily available content online and more ways to access that content. We’ve said we’ll make it happen. Now we have to deliver.
What members need
Members consistently give us positive feedback on our content, and on Quality World in particular, so it would have been easy to keep things as they were. But we couldn’t ignore the mounting evidence that told us to:
- Broaden and deepen our content coverage
- Create more digital content
- Produce content more frequently
- Make readily available content
The digital shift
Members have also been saying that they want us to do more digitally. And, as you can imagine, the pandemic has increased the urgency for this. We also looked at the latest research to support recent trends and found that people:
- Have shifted more to online content from print
- Prefer video to text when viewing digital forms of content
- Like bite-sized content
- Welcome content that personalises their experience
- Want content to be available when they want it
- Value substance over style
- Still like print despite wanting less of it
Change is coming
Our audience is diverse. We have 18,000 CQI and IRCA members in over 120 countries, working in 75 different industries. Many of them are at various career stages and have a range of interests. So we knew that our content needed to be more diverse too.
As proud as we are of Quality World, it takes a lot of work to put together each issue, and there simply aren’t enough pages to cover content for everyone. This makes reinventing Quality World a sound decision. As a quarterly publication, it will focus less on news and short pieces, and expand its long-read articles. This will make way for readily available content online.
Our Quality World Online hub will be the new digital home for the rest of our content, so you’ll be able to read new articles every week.
Quality World Online
Quality World Online will include:
An archive of easy-to-find Quality World articles from previous issues
- Regular Quality World webinars featuring quality influencers and innovators
- A bank of webinar recordings
- Briefings, opinions and news articles
- A dedicated careers section with advice, guidance and interviews
- Quality tools and techniques from the CQI and members
Collaborating on content
Our approach to Quality World is part of a new system of co-ordinated content within the CQI and with our volunteer professional networks.
We aim to deliver these changes progressively, so we’ve started with quarterly Quality World issues in 2021. In April, we’ll launch the first version of the online hub. You’ll then see more additions in the months that follow.
The CQI is building a content portfolio that we’re certain our members will value.
Look out for updates on this content project in the member Networks newsletters. And don’t forget to download your spring issue of Quality World from the Members’ Area in mid-March.
If you have any feedback or suggestions on this project, please email [email protected] or find out more about becoming a CQI or IRCA member.