FROM QUALITY TO EXCELLENCE
Paul Borawsky, ASQ’s CEO, asks two questions in his View from the Q blog:
- What is the most important challenge the quality community faces in ensuring that the value of quality is fully realized for the benefit of society?
- And, what question does the quality community most need answered in order to advance the state of quality practice in the world?
QUALITY FOR THE BENEFIT OF SOCIETY?
This is such a powerful question. It is not “what is quality good for?”, or “what is the challenge of the quality body of knowledge or the quality profession?” All that is important, and it is part of the answer, but it goes beyond the corporate realm. “…For the benefit of society…” there… it becomes critical. The moment I read it I was reminded of a quote by the great Kaoru Ishikawa in his book What is Total Quality Control? The Japanese Way: “quality leads to enhancing the quality of life . . . for all peoples and in this way can help bring about peace in the world.”
Our challenge, for the benefit of society, goes beyond quality, our responsibility is embracing, communicating, practicing and promoting excellence in everything we do. Our challenge is to create a culture of excellence beyond the job place. We need to reach opinion leaders in corporations, governments, schools, colleges, charities, hospitals, even sports, churches and the media, and show them our way, the excellence way.
Jared Cohen and Eric Schmidt, both very high ranked officials at Google, stated that the digital age has reached two billion people, and that it is time to go get the other five billion out there (The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business. Podcast, London School of Economics. Recorded on 23 May 2013). What about excellence? Has it reached two billion people yet? I don’t think it has. So our challenge is even bigger than that of the digital age. And the reason is very simple, you get connected to the internet, you get a smart phone, and you are part of the digital era. But excellence needs more than a wireless connection; it implies a commitment to be the best person, the best organization, the best school, the best hospital, the best airline, the best car company, the best country, the best everything ever in the history of the human kind. We are definitively not there.
WHAT QUESTION WE NEED TO ANSWER?
Let me remind you of the second inquiry: what question does the quality community most need answered in order to advance the state of quality practice in the world? Following my previous response the second question becomes: are WE being true practitioners of excellence ourselves? Are we trying hard enough? Paraphrasing Saint Francis of Assisi, Preach Excellence at all times and when necessary use words. The more we honestly practice excellence the more we will engage other people to embrace it.
We have our quality tools, we have Lean and Six Sigma, we have Quality Management Systems, we have statistics, among our many means. Let us all use the power of our methods to the benefit and realization of excellence.
Excellence for the benefit of society, that’s our call!
“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation…We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”
Aristole (384 a. C. – 322 a. C)
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