A living quality culture as the key to successful quality management.

written on 09.07.2021

Full concentration at work. Group of young business people working and communicating while sitting at the office desk together with colleagues sitting in the background

What is quality culture?

The term quality culture refers to the goal of an organization and its members to permanently ensure and sustainably develop quality. However, the word contains an organizational cultural contradiction. The concept of quality is usually defined top-down by organizational management. The term “culture,” on the other hand, refers to a bottom-up process. Accordingly, quality culture includes perspectives from management that incorporate cultural aspects from the workforce. In concrete terms, quality culture means creating a culture of trust, participation and communication in which quality goals are underpinned by employee participation.

A quality culture that is sustainably implemented and lived by the workforce also generates a positive dynamic within the supply chain. In the direction of the customer, a pronounced quality culture can be a further unique selling point (USP). In interaction with suppliers, a procure-to-pay process based on quality measurement can also have a positive effect. Quality culture connects suppliers and customers and creates room for a sustainable culture of trust!

What is meant by a culture of trust and what influence does it have on quality?

The term culture of trust refers to a culture in companies that is characterized by mutual trust and in which employees communicate openly with each other across hierarchies and functions and give each other feedback about their performance, behavior and impact without fear. Due to internationalization and the increasing complexity and acceleration in companies, control-oriented organizations are continuously being replaced. Meanwhile, results-oriented and trust-based corporate cultures are becoming more and more important. The constant control in a company, which has a demotivating influence on the workforce, is giving way to the employees’ own initiative and trust in the company. (cf. Schmitt 2015, 22 – 23).

A lack of trust culture can lead to a loss of quality in the value chain and to stagnation. With regard to employees, a lack of trust often leads to faulty processes, misunderstandings and conflicts. The company can suffer a loss of image in terms of employee recruitment and, in the worst case, fall victim to a competitor’s predatory strategy in terms of competitiveness. (cf. Schulte 2012, 5).

Quality culture at suppliers and the internal supply chain.

With the claim to sustainably secure the entire supply chain from procurement to the customer, the first step requires optimized processes along one’s own supply chain. These include areas of sales and budget planning, procurement management, scheduling, production and assembly processes, and sales. Successful collaboration in the supply chain requires a uniform planning basis and innovations to increase transparency.

In order to optimally supply the supply chain, supplier relationships must be carefully cultivated so that an integrated, complete supply chain can function optimally. Three key points are crucial for this, which on the one hand promote cooperation and contribute to risk prevention:

  • Trust
  • Contracts
  • Networking

The potential for mapping, controlling and monitoring business processes with a holistic and transparent IT infrastructure is far from exhausted. Different ERP and MES systems, production and project planning or simply non-existent standardization lead to interrupted, faulty information flows in the company. It is even more difficult to link external with internal processes and vice versa. Rarely do actors in the value chain access a common database and thus waste a lot of potential for agile process sequences.

Trust, partnership underpinned by contractual security, and a networked system landscape are drivers for a comprehensive, cross-company quality culture. This requires digitization and the right applications to enable the rapid exchange of relevant information.

How can a change process be designed?

The so-called change process affects all facets of entrepreneurial activity. Companies inevitably have to continually orient themselves to new trends and dynamics on the market and constantly change. Some changes have to happen quickly and agilely in order to be a player in new market opportunities right from the start. But there are also strategic change processes, which usually relate to organizational management, digital transformation, environmental or ethical standards, and product and service orientation. A common change process starts with the recognition of the change, followed by the understanding of the change and acceptance of a change. After that, a firm belief and the ability to implement develops. This is followed by a growing desire for change and, ideally, reaching the status of acquiescence. But only with the encouragement to change and the broad support can a change work. So much for the theory!

Quelle: Kurt Brand https://www.kubra.de/

Interestingly, the graphic in the above article also provides information on how a change decided from above can work from right to left. The steps must be taken in exactly the reverse order. At the same time, this also means that the more changes are decided, the more pressure is created in the overall organization.

A new methodology would be advisable to decide on top-down strategic adaptation processes at an early stage and to develop a long-term change strategy by deriving a vision from the corporate DNA. Through early communication with potential technology partners, even radical transformations can succeed. The necessary creativity for future technologies and their significance for change processes comes from the market and in the suppliers’ own interest. Not only quality but also change arise in the broadest sense from trust, i.e. the collaborative cooperation between customers and suppliers.

Bringing compliance, change and trust management together in one comprehensive Openhouse Methodology!

As an essence from the blog article on compliance, one can extract the necessity of a comprehensive compliance management system. Without a corresponding documentation and audit system, it is not possible to continuously control and document all relevant processes. With regard to the diversity of regulations to be observed from contractual origins, it is also essential to create a further scalable communication level in which cross-company networking and cooperation is possible. In-house agreements often lack a verification and documentation solution involving employees. The key is open communication with all stakeholders in the respective process and access to relevant information for the exercise of dedicated control duties.

When it comes to the topics of quality culture, change management and trust culture, one recognizes a widespread structural problem in the organizational units of primarily larger companies. While the participation of employees is a real added value and also a driving force for change, the involvement of too many decision-makers and consultants is a stumbling block and an insurmountable barricade on the road to digital transformation.

What would an optimized decision-making process look like if we could reinvent it? Which approach promises the greatest success? How can an evolved organization reinvent the wheel and reposition itself for the future?

Let’s imagine that at the beginning of every change process there was an open house procedure in which various solution approaches were discussed in an open discussion at eye level both internally with the specialist departments and externally with potential suppliers and solution providers. A subjective definition of the current situation and a rough objective would be completely sufficient as the basis for such a mood test. With a minimum of resources, a very detailed picture would emerge over time from all relevant perspectives, which could be directly transferred into a kind of recommendation for action. Based on these orientation discussions, trust is formed at all levels and a basic understanding of the upcoming change. This consolidated view is the basis for concrete requirements and detailed service descriptions. Without this foundation, the house stands on very sandy ground.

To get back to compliance management, we need to remember that companies’ compliance with rules and the diversity of rules from laws, contractual and internal agreements requires comprehensive quality and process management, which cannot be implemented efficiently and sustainably without appropriate IT solutions. These specific IT systems in the areas of process, contract, document, quality and audit management form the basis for a comprehensive culture of quality and trust within the company. And it is precisely this culture that forms the foundation for every successful change process.

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