Who Owns Quality?

Let me ask you a question…who “owns quality” in your organization?  Depending on the size and type of organization you’re a part of, the answer may vary a bit, right?  Not so fast!  It’s a trick question…

Allow me to elaborate through personal experience.  I own a small bluetooth external speaker called a Jambox (made by Jawbone).  I’ve had this particular item for a couple of years now (I’m using it now as I write this post, listening to music on Pandora, a great service for streaming music).  My Jambox has been through the proverbial “war”…I’ve taken it on business trips, on camping expeditions, out in the backyard while working on the latest landscape project, even using it as my speaker of choice in my 1963 Ford F100 pickup at times.  It’s rugged, has a clean, simple design, and it works every time I need it.  In short, it’s a great product, made with quality in mind.

How does that happen?  I don’t know the structure of Jawbone’s corporation, I’m not familiar with their quality department (if there is one)….but they produced a reliable, consistent performing product.

 

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Let me offer some insight from my experience within Operations as well as a consumer:

1.  Quality is owned by everyone within the organization.  From the board members to the CEO, the management team to the customer care representatives and sales team, through production and logistics, right down to the shipping and receiving team, the concept and the “character” (if you will) of quality needs to be present.  It’s not relegated to a designated quality control position (although there may be such a person who champions this element within your company)–it’s a commitment, an ongoing, evolutionary process, a mindset that must override everything involved in the product life cycle.

2.  Quality must be passionate in nature.  Please don’t assume that simply adhering to metrics will get you there.  There needs to be a passionate commitment to obtaining quality.  Metrics are a great way to measure performance in general, and to monitor your course with a given product’s life cycle, making certain that standards are adhered to, etc., but metrics alone will not insure true quality.  Quality is present when the product or service is not only consistent in delivering whatever it was designed for, but also when the recipient or user of the item in question places their confidence and trust in the product or service repeatedly, based on experience and performance.  Quality can actually have a “feel” to it, and real quality, when found, will move the consumer in a way that the lack of quality simply cannot.  You become a fan of the product (like I am with my Jambox).

3.  Quality occurs by design.  There’s no escaping this universal truth…we’ve all seen the bumper sticker that suggests that “s*&t happens”….pretty much true.  But quality, on the other hand, doesn’t “just happen”.  It is the byproduct of design, of passion, of experience, and resourcefulness.  True quality occurs because you want it to happen, not just by accident.

Think a moment about the experiences you’ve had, or the product you use, maybe the car you drive, or the clothing brand you gravitate towards.  Those items in our lives that we hold in high esteem, rely upon or just become our “go to” thing in our lives–they are there because of some element of quality.

Are You Ready For Some Football?

levis-stadiumI had the opportunity recently to attend a pre-season football game at the newly opened Levi’s Stadium located in Santa Clara, CA.  It is the new home of the San Francisco 49ers.  While the game itself was rather uneventful (the 49ers lost to the Denver Broncos), it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and a great opportunity to see “firsthand” what so much of the excitement has been about over the last several months.  The 49ers football organization has, as you probably have heard already, relocated their franchise from San Francisco, further south in the Bay Area, to Santa Clara.  Here’s some thoughts and observations from my day at the park–

 

1.  It is a beautiful looking stadium, and very high tech, worthy of representing Silicon Valley and all that the Bay Area has become.  I enjoyed using the built in WiFi service on my iPhone, and no matter where I walked throughout the stadium, I never missed a play of the game, due to the more than 1100 (I think) screens and monitors that are throughout the park.  Some fans near me ordered food from their iPhone and had it delivered right to their seat, which was interesting to watch.  I prefer to get up and stretch my legs, but a brief walk from any seat in the house gets you to a nearby food or beverage stand.  I believe the two large screens at each end of the park are the largest in the NFL league, and you really can’t miss any part of the game.

2.  It wasn’t a cheap date.  Ok, new stuff can cost more, I get that.  Lots of people are complaining about the prices, not only for the tickets, but also for the stuff….the food, the jerseys, the parking….they aren’t cheap.  As much as I want to join the whining bandwagon, you have to be realistic….things cost more today than in years gone by.  Gone are the days of the double-header baseball game, when you could take the family out for a few dollars and enjoy the afternoon.  But the facilities are nice, the seating is well laid out (you can see the game from every seat really, really well), and the concessions are well stocked and well located.  If you are hungry, try one of the food trucks along the “Faithful 49 Fan Walk” out in front of the stadium before heading to your seat.  The food was good, the prices a little more reasonable, and the lines weren’t bad.  I had a BBQ Tri Tip sandwich which was one of the best I’ve had in a long while.

3.  Security was solid and well organized.  My observation is that there was plenty of security, the scanning and systems used up front (including the video cameras that I could see) kept the crowds moving smoothly and the stadium workers and local police and sheriffs were all pretty well in sync.  That’s not an easy task for handling sixty thousand fans at a time.  Even with the alcohol flowing through the concession stands, the crowd seemed to enjoy the facility and there didn’t appear to be any vandalism or criminal behavior present–well done.

4.  Parking wasn’t as bad as expected.  We were able to park in a garage adjacent to the park with our yellow parking pass.  I recommend you buy a parking pass in advance–this will only help your experience.  But there was also plenty of people using mass transit, and bicycles (they have a lot for securing your bike up close to the stadium entrance, which is thoughtful).  There were plenty of people directing traffic which helped as well.

Over all, it was a positive first time experience.  Operationally, Levi’s Stadium seems on top of their game, and certainly ready to house the Super Bowl at the end of the 2015-16 season.  If you get the opportunity to take in a game at the new stadium this year, please do so–you will not be disappointed!