Happy in the Quality field – A reality check…

Happiness is a state of mind, and the human state of mind is never constant. Paul Borawski’s post asking whether Quality professionals are happy on the job is a partial reverberation of the preceding post by Paul and the subsequent responses by fellow Influential Voices. How well each one of every quality professional across the world is able to Raise the Voice of Quality is a direct indicator of how happy and content he/she is. However, it is never constant.

If Forbes named software quality professionals as the happiest on the job, I see that quality professionals in general are not far behind on the happiness quotient. There are many inherent reasons behind this – Paul used some parameters (Interesting, Frustating, Rewarding, Challenging) to present job happiness based on which I would like to rate mine on 10, where 10 being the highest/best:

I’d give ‘Interesting’ an 8.0/10.0 – This is the best part about a Quality professional’s role. Our jobs demand quite a lot of variation, from interacting with literally all departments, divisions, projects sites across the company including interaction with suppliers and subcontractors- to role change from ensuring basic document control, developing critical procedures, conducting a quality audit, detecting a product defect at the right time, applying simple yet effective quality tools, preparing and analyzing quality reports, taking process improvement initiatives, solving a customer complaint, measuring customer satisfaction or just ensuring business processes are running efficiently. There’s so much to do yet it’s never enough. Another important aspect which makes this job all the more interesting is, we as quality professionals, need to be constant creative thinkers in order to ensure that continual improvement is really continuous.

For me, Frustrating’ would take a 6.0/10.0 although it varies from time to time, depending on the nature of the problem and the willingness of the management to involve themselves in finding a real quality solution. Quite often, there’s disappointment, but then haven’t we all learnt to bite the dust….?

‘Rewarding’ is an 8.0/10.0 – There’s nothing more rewarding than receiving a pat on the back from your superior for an improvement well executed. The sense of achievement is tremendous when fellow colleagues, managers and superiors look up to you for a sensible discussion to find a healthy solution to a particular quality problem at hand. Like I’ve always said to all newbies and professionals alike, money comes for those to work hard, smart and with sincerity, so I will not delve into it here.

A true quality professional would be one who stood ground on his beliefs in the most hostile situations. Whether he overcomes it or ‘bites the dust’ is secondary. Hence, Paul’s last parameter ‘Challenging’ goes for a 9.0/10.0. I take every quality problem as a challenge that needs to be overcome – this is in principle.

Realistically speaking, although I enjoy my job because I am extremely passionate about it, there are more occasions than one when I go into de-motivation mode. I think it’s the passion for the job that pushes me to take a step further and continue my journey of quality. And then there is Quality itself.

I have colleagues who have told me stories of blunder and the complete and continuous lack of commitment of the management to raise the bar of quality. I have told them one thing – ‘whether we remain or not, either now or 5 years down the road or 10 years down the road – Quality is Inevitable’. That’s my belief and that’s what makes me happy. The happiness of seeing the future around the world – A Quality world.

Ciao.

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Quality: To sell or to do

I am sure Paul’s March blog post has brought back some pleasant and not-so-pleasant memories to many quality professionals across the world, reminiscing just what made them click with quality in their respective organizations. Some had a dream run, while the remaining many are still pushing the cart at a pace not many would envy.

Over my professional experience as a Quality consultant in the past and now as a full-time in-house Quality practitioner, I realized the one single factor that drives Quality in an organization is – Top management leadership and commitment. If the quality belief exists at the top, it will reflect in the bottomline, by default. The point here is even if you make the most saleable pitch on quality to senior executives and public officials and they buy in, what is the probability that they would be committed to it in the long run?

I liked what square peg Scott Rutherford said in his post “Quality sells best when it is integrated or created into an organization’s culture” – I say if it’s integrated or created into the organization’s culture, I see it sold already!  HOW to get it integrated and created into the culture of the organization is the 70 year old question.

Paul says in his post, “I know this question has plagued the quality community for close to 70 years”. And we still don’t have a universal answer to this question? Its clear there is something amiss. One of the main reasons I stopped selling quality few years back, and started what we call the Lead by example’ methodology. My passion for quality has not waned, only that I believe leading by example has far more power than just a sales pitch. It plants a belief system in people around you. It works for me. Now, I try to DO quality.

That’s probably the only sales pitch I found sustainable quality in.

Ciao.

‘The Cost of Quality’ Disaster Stories

I wanted to follow up my latest post on ASQ CEO, Paul Borawski’s blog, with a compelling video. After some searching, I came across this very inspirational video giving a snapshot of the gigantic amounts of loss caused due to that one single ignored quality process. Do take a look, and post your thoughts in the comments box.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

My quality journey, my role with ASQ & why I chose to join ASQ Influential Voices?

Me, myself and ASQ! That’s what I would be talking today – my first official blog post for ASQ’s Influential Voices Program. Thank you ASQ for inviting me on this opportunity to express myself on quality issues to the world of quality. I’m thrilled to perpetuity!

If you think Quality is one of the easiest and THE ‘get away with’ jobs in the industrial world, go take a dip in the Ganges to wash this sin off your chest. It’s a sin to say that, think that! Think again.

But wait, I ain’t saying it’s the toughest job in the world either. It’s actually similar to a laughing gas kind of reaction when you are crying – you are forced to laugh when you are actually crying. In quality, you DO what no one wants you to do – check on other people’s crap. But then ‘you got to do what you got to do’, as they say! Throw some weight around, concoct a procedure, marinate with a quality form and serve it to the process owner!  Viola! You can’t stop flattering about your culinary skills.

The process owner? The least.

Quality is not about throwing your weight around, because you can! Quality is a lot of responsibility, needs a lot of ethical conduct and perseverance to see the results down the years! The Japanese are proud producers of the most economical yet quality personified cars in the world, because of their perseverance over a number of decades!  Toyota has gained iconic status in the quality world, and I stand by its ideals. Till death do us apart.

My Early Days

For reasons I realized over a period of time, I have always had a strong affinity for things quality. Things I did at a young age, like:

  • Ensuring a perfect hairdo at my hair cutter
  • Making all people in the house wash their hands before touching food
  • Giving taste feedback to my mom while cooking a delicacy
  • Suggesting my teacher to give ‘awake’ times during chemistry classes (half the class used to fall asleep!)
  • I couldn’t tolerate hair on the floor! I used to freak out if I saw long women’s hair on the floor. They look far more worthwhile on a deserving head!

Realization

Naïve I would say for most of the above, yet when I grew up and found ‘professional’ Quality, I realized I was already in touch with its basics at a young age; quite a few of us are! I think I was lucky to have been cultured since my childhood that way. All said, I had not the faintest clue I would be making a career out of ‘disturbing other peoples comfort zones’. It is true – when people are asked to do things a certain way to improve, its difficult from the word go. It’s their comfort zones we are messing with.

My earliest stint with Quality was in India (2003) where, while working as a Processing Engineer, I was asked to develop procedures for our laminated and insulated glass processing unit as part of our ISO 9001 QMS development program. While, I didn’t much enjoy the documentation, I realized how important it is to document processes in order to ensure standardization. This little experience laid the seeds of a career in a field I would want to spend the rest of my life in.

The following year I landed in Kuwait only to work on a QMS development-implementation project with on-the-job training. This in-depth experience with the nuances of the standards and the requirements of developing a good system reverberated my thoughts of a career in quality. From here on, there was no looking back!

ASQ and me

I have to proudly admit that ASQ is special to me. Throughout my progress and success as a quality professional, ASQ has been my greatest motivation. I still remember the day when my then boss (now ASQ Country Councilor for Kuwait) first gave me a copy of the Quality Progress magazine, which I read in its entirety in a few hours! Every corner of the magazine dripped quality and I am still relishing the merits of this ‘amrit! From being a follower of ASQ in 2004-2005 to becoming a member and now super-supporter of ASQ and its quest to spread the body of quality across the globe, it’s been a journey full of valuable experiences.

Today, after a good number of years of quality experience, to being honored as one of the ‘40 New Voices of Quality‘ and now as one of ASQ’s Influential Voices blogger, I owe the greater part of my professional success to ASQ and everything that it stands for. Thank you ASQ and its able team of professionals for providing me, at various points of my career, the light that I always look up to! I wish this light continues to guide me and newer professionals passionate about quality towards their own successes.

Why be an Influential Voice?

ASQ has always focused on permeating the essence of quality globally, and I believe this is one medium which can mass-contribute towards ASQ’s commitment to quality awareness worldwide.

Being in a region (Middle East) where people simply don’t get the basics of quality right, it definitely needs a greater push than the usual. And I am humbled to have been invited to this opportunity by ASQ to offer my sensibilities on quality and related issues. Plus, with adequate networking, we can reach the masses to greater effect.

With this as a midpoint, I am hopeful my journey of quality continues to grow longer and wider, and provide some perspectives to fellow practitioners and newbie’s.

Stay tuned.

Scraping off the rough edges…

As we all enter into the new year, we strive to visualize a clearer, sharper future depleted of unpleasantries. Processing work 5 seconds faster, not devouring that one ounce of delicacy, spending 25 words more with family, etc – all minor adjustments to your KPI but having a telling effect on the results!

This new year, I would strive to perform better by visualizing every new problem as a window of opportunity. Major issues to focus on are:

1. Bringing quality to the Top Management

2. Building the Local Member Community

3. Learning from fellow quality professionals and vice-versa

4. Kaizen of work, home and life in general.

I am probably promising myself the same old resolutions of the past years, however the idea is to scrap off the rough edges, where they can be improved.

Happy New Year to all ASQ followers, particularly to all Influential Voices! Let us together strive to spread the essence of quality.