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.



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.

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