Making “Quality” a Part of Your Business Culture

In this special article, Overdrive interviews Subir Chowdhury, author of the new book, The Power of Leo. Subir is the author of 13 books, including the international bestsellers The Power of Six Sigma and The Ice Cream Maker. As chairman and CEO of ASI Consulting Group, he advises CEOs and senior leaders of Fortune 100 companies all over the world, helping them make “quality” a part of their business culture.

How important is a company’s culture when it comes to its overall success?
Culture is absolutely the driving force to a company’s overall success.  The LEO management system addresses this with one of the four key cornerstones: “All the people all the time.” And “all the people” means just that: ALL the people from top to bottom – no exceptions. The culture of every successful organization starts with the actions and behaviors of its leaders. If leaders demonstrate and consistently reinforce and reward the actions, behaviors and desired outputs they expect, then the culture of the organization develops, evolves, and is ultimately supported by “All the people all the time.”

What are some quick tips business owners can apply to effectively measure the quality of a program or product?
The easiest way to address this issue it to go back to the basics of LEO philosophy:

  • ListenObserve and Understand – Get out of your office. Turn off your computer and go interact with everyone who is involved with the products you make or the services you offer. That includes internal customers (your employees, suppliers) and external customers (the people who use what you make or offer). Ask them how good they believe your products or services are. They won’t be shy and they’ll tell you more than you can imagine. You’ll immediately know what’s good, what’s bad, what works and what doesn’t. Without proper listening, you simply cannot enrich the product or service.
  • Enrich Explore and Discover – Ask all of the relevant parties to tell you how they would fix the problems with your products or services. Ironically, and in most cases, you’ll be provided with a myriad of ideas and solutions to address any deficiencies in your offerings.  Now you just have to choose the best ones and implement the fixes.
  • OptimizeImprove and Perfect – So you found out the ‘real’ truths, good and/or bad about you products. Great companies never stop at good, but continuously examine ways to make their products and services the best they can be.  Sound trite, but continuously optimizing your products and services is always a competitive advantage.

If business owners can simply follow these 3 simple steps in everything they do and instill this philosophy to their employees, they will achieve quality.

What are some common mistakes you see business leaders make when it comes to managing the integrity of their businesses?
Too often in today’s business culture, management tends to lack some of the basic skills that make good leaders. Without good leadership skills, the integrity of the business many times is compromised and mistakes are made.  The Power of LEO focuses leaders on four key aspects, that when diligently practiced, can ultimately have a positive impact on the integrity of the business.

  1. Commitment – become active, knowledgeable and participate in the actual business of which you are engaged
  2. Consistency –   set the tone of the business, including goals and objectives, policies and procedures; and closely monitor each to minimize deviations and distractions
  3. Competency – learn and know each aspect of the business; understand the needs wants and desires of your employees, suppliers and customers; and establish an environment of trust and patience – get help when you need it.
  4. Communication – Do it often, always, whenever, wherever and with whomever you can or need to communicate with.  Elicit feedback, good and/or bad and present the facts, truthfully, to ensure success.

How can you effectively manage quality when it comes to a largely Generation Y staff?
Quality should never be governed by age, demographics or psychographic labels. However, The Power of LEO is easily and effectively applied to Gen Y staffers. Being tech savvy allows them to always be in hyper-Listening mode. They utilize multiple methods to observe and understand what’s going on around them, to them, and among them. Their feedback on products and services is instantaneous, public (blogs, text messages, etc.) and brutally honest. Businesses need to capitalize on that and use it their advantage.

Gen Y staffers also tend to be super-high achievers, full of ideas and out of the box solutions. Embrace that. Put that to work. Let them Enrich your products and services in ways that not only drive quality, but promote growth and sustainability. Finally, Gen Y staffers need to feel like they’re part of a team – achieving for the greater good. Let them utilize their team spirit to drive innovation and perfection. We call that Optimization.  Challenge them to be better, to do better and continuously strive to make themselves, their team’s and the organization’s products and services the best they can be.

If you could give one piece of advice to entrepreneurs regarding taking businesses from good to great, what would it be?
The unending pursuit of ‘quality,’ of perfection, is the single most important action any individual or organization can take to resolve problems and achieve goals. Great companies never stop at “good.”

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