Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – March 2020

Welcome to March 2020 edition of Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs.

For the year 2020, we have chosen the core subject of Revisiting Basic Quality Concepts w.r.t. the sustained success of the organization We picked up

We take up Organizational Context as our first core concept –

An organization’s context involves its “operating environment.” The context must be determined both within the organization and external to the organization. It is important to understand the unique context of an organization before starting the strategic planning.[1]

The organizational context can be viewed as situational opportunities and constraints that affect the occurrence and meaning of organizational behavior as well as functional relationships between variables. Context can serve as a main effect or interact with personal variables such as disposition to affect organizational behavior.

The reasons to understand the context of the organization, essentially, are –

  • if we do not understand situations, we will not understand person situation interactions.
  • Context is also implicated in the poorly understood “missing linkages” (Goodman, 2000) that can explain how individual or team activity gets translated into larger organizational outcomes.
  • it helps us to better convey the applications of strategy at planning, implementation, review and improvement stages

The understanding of organizational context

  • Affects the observed range of organizational variables under consideration.
  • As a consequence of range restriction, context can have a profound effect on the base rates of key organizational variables across occupations or locations, or over time. In turn, such variations in base rates will have a marked impact on the imputed importance of these variables, their meaning to actors and observers, and the inferred significance of their correlates.
  • Can affect the cause and effect relationships
  • Can help understand the likely effect of the strategic directional change that may take place in response to the dynamics of the context
  • Helps in understanding the interacting and interrelated ripple effects of any trend or an isolated, black swan, event. The mechanics of context can be quite subtle, and small changes in context often matter greatly.
  • Can affect the validity of the organization’s purpose[2]

The following graphic is used to understand any and all organizations, no matter how simple or complex, large or small.  It is used to clarify the relationship between this way of understanding context and our way of understanding content – the actual collaborative action that drives the organization forward day in, day out.

The “roof” and the “foundation” can be understood as the organizational context – who we are, where we’re going, why we’re going there and how we’re going to treat each other along the way.  In the foundation, we find the organization’s “come from” – the solid purpose for being, the mission, the core values, the key standards, value propositions and roles and rules of engagement.  And in the roof, we find the “go to” – the vision pulling us toward the desired future, the goals, the objectives and priorities.

And the middle of the house represents the organizational content – the human beings who are collaborating and communicating and coordinating with each other… and are doing so in a way that’s guided by the foundation and in service to the roof.  [3]

It is vital to design processes in the context of all the dimensions of the organization (mapped out in our Eight Dimensions below).

It is useful to view organizations as webs of relationships and processes in order to understand, shape and effectively work with them. Remarkably, most organizations attempt to control, restrict, or manage information and knowledge (of such relationships). Controlling information flows may appear possible when organizations are viewed mechanistically, as linear causal chains. But when viewed as complex networks (like the Internet) the only conclusion to be reached is that information is uncontrollable and necessary for the health of the system.

When an organization shares information and knowledge about the challenges it faces, the people within the organization are able to hold meaningful dialogues about these challenges, increasing their understanding of themselves and their roles. This understanding can then become the basis of a shared culture that can effectively evolve in response to challenges.

Professor Bidhan Parmar gives business leaders useful tips for implementing change. He explains the importance of organizational context and the “ecosystem” in which these changes might take place.

Understating the organizational context is an on-going activity. The organizations who aspire sustained success embed this process establishes, maintains and continually improve this process, since the organizational context forms one of the vital inputs to its quest for sustained success.

[N.B. – Detailed note on The Organizational Context can be read / downloaded by clicking on the hyper link.]

We will now turn to our regular sections:

In the series the Organizational Culture, we have attempted to look at ‘Organizational Culture  and Organizational Leadership. We have briefly explored the subject, and in the process, laying foundation for linking it up with their relationship with the sustained success later in the series.

We now watch ASQ TV, wherein we look at a few relevant videos from the past:

    • Change Management – Change is one thing organizations can count on. Learn how to lead, implement and sustain changes successfully.
    • Effective 21st Century Quality Leadership – Mike Turner, Managing Partner, Oakland Consulting, discusses the business challenges of the 21st century, and how quality professionals should respond in order to meet them.

Jim L. Smith’s Jim’s Gems posting for February 2020 –

    • Predictability – If you want to know what’s in store for your future, consider your current thoughts…What do you consistently think about? What do your thoughts dwell on and visualize for your future? What do you expect to happen? What do you believe you can cause to happen?.. The point is that it is your present thoughts that, to a reasonable extent, determine your future…The point is that although you can’t always control what happens in the outside world, you can control your inner world – your thoughts…When you do that, you unleash significant energy which translates into a tremendous drive. All that’s required is to start thinking positively. Henry Ford’s quote, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right” still holds true.
    • Build Better Customer Relationships – A good experience is key to customer advocacy – Customers can tell you what they value about your core products and the surrounding support services. Combining external measures from your customers with internal quality metrics has the potential to improve business performance and continuously outpace your competitors…To be successful, companies must commit to turn satisfied customers into loyal customers and turn loyal customers into advocates…Even before prospects (stage 1) become customers (stage 2), you need to start addressing their expectations. Once they become customers, your goal is to deliver what you promised and ensure that they’re satisfied (stage 3). Beyond satisfaction, you must strive to ensure that you deliver consistently positive experiences and build a strong relationship that develops loyal customers (stage 4) and, ultimately, advocates (stage 5)… It means delivering a positive experience each time the customer interacts with your organizations. On the rare occasions where customer experiences don’t go as planned, your organization must do whatever it takes to quickly make it right. ..Delivering positive customer experiences involves everybody in the organization. It’s the reason your business exists.

I look forward to your views / comments / inputs to further enrich the subjects of Basics of Quality and Organizational Culture and their role in Creating and Maintaining Sustained Success.

Note: The images depicted here above are through courtesy of respective websites who have the copyrights for the respective images.

[1] Organization and its context

[2] The Essential Impact Of Context On Organizational Behaviour – Gary Johns,

[3] Context vs. Content, Part 3 of 3