Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – February 2013

Welcome to February 2013 edition of Carnival of Quality Management and Articles Blog Festival.

Quality has any many meanings as the number of contexts and the periods in which it is used. “What is Quality?” – The Best Explanation Ever , while taking a view at definitions in the applicable ISO standards provides a refreshing view while discussing Mitra’s Model (2003), which incorporates the many implied aspects of the ISO 9000 para 3.1.5 definition of quality, which was developed by analyzing the definitions of quality in over 300 journal articles (many from the marketing literature), observes that  there were five stages of the dynamic process of achieving and improving quality:

  • Organizational antecedents – creating an organization whose capabilities can support achieving world-class quality in products and services
  • Operational antecedents – designing quality into products, managing processes to achieve quality
  • Production quality – meeting specifications for features, reliability and performance; adequately addressing aesthetics and customer taste preferences to create demand
  • Customer consequences of quality – whether and how customers perceive quality, and how this impacts retention
  • Market consequences of quality – in terms of market share, as well as the impact of quality and quality improvement on its contribution to profitability and global competitiveness

We also take in a point of view of regulatory angle to Quality Management (System) in Sarbanes-Oxley And ISO 9000. The article discusses in detail normally an underplayed and non-value adding aspect – documentation and its importance. From the legal point of view, however, documentation is a major asset of ISO 9001, providing records and internal controls. For example, a test result is a record. A signature is a control. Quality records define a trail from customer expectations to delivery and all steps in between.

This trail assumes massive importance when customer disappointment goes to court. Indeed, following the collapse of customer confidence in the aftermath of major corporate scandals, the U.S. government has gotten very interested in paper trails and controls. In law, they are not form but substance, and you can go to jail if the trail is not clear. In the past, a company might have to pay a fine for wrongdoing, but under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX), the CEO can go to prison as well.

Fortunately, internet has now many resources that can provide wide ranging options, one such being How to Create a Standard Operating Procedure Template. And this is indeed just one of many and no way, limiting the innovative ability of the implementing team to improvise and improve the documentation without being excessively bureaucratic.

Also, Quality view of managing Quality is, essentially, long term, as emphasized in 14, not 3, is a Magic Number for Dr. Deming and Toyota,  by Mark Graban.

Apart from the perspective of time as a dimension of the decision-making, ability to take decisions in the environment of ambiguity remains a “core challenge”. Leadership Caffeine puts forward 3 Situations to Quality Check Your Gut Instinct : 1. Talent Choices – be deliberate about getting beyond your gut reaction and better understanding the candidate’s behavioral approaches to situations.  2. Strategic Choices – Rethink the external factors prompting the decision-choice, and get help evaluating whether the risks from not moving might just exceed those from stepping down an unfamiliar path. 3. More Time and Money Decisions – Some situations may well merit more time and money, but repeated calls for these precious assets are a sign of trouble.

William Cohen, Ph.D., in an article – Is ignorance the most important aspect of problem solving? –  in his regular column @Process Excellence Network , shares Peter Drucker’s views on the secret of his own success as an outside consultant – for an insider, to maintain objectivity that comes in by looking at the issues from a distance of an outsider – Drucker responded, “I ask the right questions.”

“I never ask these questions or approach these assignments based on my knowledge and experience in these or other industries. It is exactly the opposite. I do not use my knowledge and past experience with the subject at all. I use my ignorance. Ignorance is the most important factor in problem solving.”

Other student hands shot up, but Peter waved them off. “Ignorance is not such a bad thing if one knows how to use it,” he continued, “and all managers must learn how to do this. You must frequently approach problems with your ignorance and not what you think you know from past experience. What you think you know is probably wrong.”

Whilst on the subject of ‘asking’ questions to manage the affairs of the organization effectively and efficiently, we also, fortunately, have  The 10 Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization .”Drucker’s own five questions—What is our mission? Who is our customer? What does the customer value? What are our results? What is our plan?—and what he labeled ‘the theory of the business.’ adding that, to extend the list to 10.” .. thanks to Lafley, the former chief executive of Procter & Gamble, and Martin, the dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, – What is our winning aspiration? Where will we play? How will we win? What capabilities must be in place? What management systems are required? When a company can’t seem to get its strategy straight, it’s often because of “a reluctance to make truly hard choices,” Lafley and Martin assert. “It is natural to want to keep options open as long as possible, rather than closing off possibilities by making explicit choices. But it is only through making and acting on choices that you can win. Yes, clear, tough choices force your hand and confine you to a path. But they also free you to focus on what matters.””

Peter Drucker of course was known for his knack of asking the ‘right questions’. Here are Drucker’s Enduring Questions :  The first comes from Jack Bergstrand, of the Drucker Institute’s partner consulting firm Brand Velocity, who asks, “What should we stop doing?” The second comes from Clayton Christensen, of Harvard Business School, who asks, “If we didn’t have an existing business, how could we best build a new one?”

If these questions seem to make the life a bit hazy, we should not hesitate to re-visit the classical models, like Baldrige criteria, for a rigorous evaluation of the outcomes of our decisions. How Does Baldrige Help? – Why does the Baldrige criteria work? These are some really tough questions. Large companies are complex and need someone to show them the inter-connections of the competing causes and effects.  Emphasis on results, alone, “excellence will not be achieved with one part of the organization doing well.”

The 2013-2014 Baldrige Criteria build on the 25-years’ tradition of aiming to empower the organizations “to reach their goals, improve results, and become more competitive”, and “feature a renewed focus on:

  • Innovation management, intelligent risk, and strategic priorities;
  • Social media;
  • Operational effectiveness; and
  • Work systems and core competencies.”

And, the organizations – to remain (always) quantitatively and qualitatively ‘young’ – can certainly draw quite a parallel with the individual human beings – “Laugh Loud and Live Happily; Keep Dreaming”. The maxim we probably know, but presented very differently @ How To Stay Young Forever.

Brian Gast provides another approach to the meaning of work-life balance – remedy that also can help sustained vitality and happiness – in How Executives Can Get a Work-Life Balance . He opens the subject with a question – Have you ever wondered why you keep doing something that you know is bad for you? He goes on to explain that, “the addict lives inside all of us. When it takes over, things get out of balance. You are not alone. We are all addicted to something. ..The addict operates on a core set of mistaken beliefs. These beliefs comprise part of a bubble that encases you. Your entire experience of the world is distorted because you see it all through your bubble. It’s these bubble beliefs that cause you to over-commit, under-delegate, and reach for more and more.”

We also have two articles to help draw our knowledge from the unrelated fields – detective fiction and hard-core espionage operations.

Jennifer Miller’s How To Solve Problems Like Sherlock Holmes lays out how “in exploring the thinking of Sherlock Holmes, and plumbing A Study in Scarlet, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and many other works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Konnikova has provided a guide for greater self-awareness, stronger memory, better focus, and enhanced creativity.”
And the other one is: Work Like A Spy: An Ex-CIA Officer’s Tips For Business Success by Danielle Sacks, where J C Carleson speaks  to Fast Company about exploiting your competitors, the importance of building intelligence networks, and why you should befriend your company’s security guard.

In concluding this month’s edition, it would be most opportune to record two annual reviews of Management Improvement Carnivals –  2012 Management Improvement Carnival – Part 2 and Annual Management Improvement Blog Review: 2012.

Finally, an oft-quoted Einstein’s insight: “The significant problems that we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.”



In July 2011, I opted to retire from my active career as a practicing management professional. In the 38 years that I pursued this career, I had opportunity to work in diverse capacities, in small-to-medium-to-large engineering companies. Whether I was setting up Greenfield projects or Brownfield projects, nurturing the new start-ups or accelerating the stabilized unit to a next phase growth, I had many more occasions to take the paths uncharted. The life then was so challenging! One of the biggest casualty in that phase was my disregards towards my hobbies - Be with The Family, Enjoy Music form Films of 1940s to mid-1970s period, write on whatever I liked to read, pursue amateur photography and indulge in solving the chess problems. So I commenced my Second Innings to focus on this area of my life as the primary occupation. At the end of four years, I am now quite a regular blogger. I have been able to build a few very strong pen-relationships. I maintain contact with 38-years of my First Innings as freelance trainer and process facilitator. And yet, The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

7 thoughts on “Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – February 2013”

    1. Thanks for your visit and expressing your views.
      ISO 9001 needs to be looked at beyond the certification.
      Yes, when setting up any new initiative, if the design does take into account the ISO 9001 structure, the new initiative / system will be quite organized from the initial stage, and hence is likely to be more responsive to further improvements.
      Do keep on providing additional inputs to enrich the content.

    2. Thanks for your visit and expressing your views.
      ISO 9001 needs to be looked at beyond the certification.
      Yes, when setting up any new initiative, if the design does take into account the ISO 9001 structure, the new initiative / system will be quite organized from the initial stage, and hence is likely to be more responsive to further improvements.
      Do keep on providing additional inputs to enrich the content.

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