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Creating a Culture of Quality

Creating a Culture of QualitySocial media is a key force in making the Internet truly a world wide web of interconnections. And that means the penalties or pays offs of low or high service/quality levels are exponentially multiplied.

Technology for collecting and analyzing data along with process management approaches like Lean/Six Sigma are powerful management tools. They can pinpoint areas that need improvement and map out what needs to change with “hard” clarity and impeccable logic.

Yet study after study shows up to 70% of service/quality and other organizational change efforts fail to make a lasting difference. A major stumbling block is changing behaviors up, down, and across the organization. This is a “soft” leadership issue at the heart of change.

Consulting directors Ashwin Srinivasan and Bryan Kurey have just published “Creating a Culture of Quality” in the April issue of Harvard Business Review with the latest in a long series of similar studies showing the huge impact of culture on service/quality levels. They start with research in the tradition of many ‘cost of poor service/quality studies’ reporting companies in the top quintile in their study report 46% fewer errors. Based on survey reports that it takes two hours to correct a mistake, they calculate the lowest performing companies in the survey spend $774 million a year to resolve preventable errors. This is $350 million more than top performing companies. “For every company moving from the bottom to the top quintile would save a company $67 million annually.”

The authors’ “Four Essentials of Quality” are prime examples of the impact of “soft” leadership and culture on “hard” results:

• Maintaining a Leadership Emphasis on Quality
• Ensuring Message Credibility
• Peer Involvement
• Employee Ownership

Management systems, processes, data and analysis are often used to push employees toward using service/quality improvement tools and desired behaviors. Employees comply and — with enough “snoopervision” — meet minimum requirements.

Leadership pulls employees from compliance to commitment. Employees enthusiastically go above and beyond. They drive to increase service/quality because they want to, not because they have to.

Further Reading/Viewing:

• “Leadership and Culture Development to Boost Employee Engagement
• “Leadership and Culture Development is Critical to Lean/Six Sigma Success
• “Six Essentials to Creating an Extraordinary Culture
• “Is Your Culture Anchored in Strengths or Weaknesses?
• “Archived Webinar on Our Leadership and Culture Development Approaches Now Available
• “Links for Digging Deeper Into Leading a Peak Performance Culture


For over three decades, Jim Clemmer’s keynote presentations, workshops, management team retreats, seven bestselling books, articles, and blog have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The Clemmer Group is the Canadian strategic partner of Zenger Folkman, an award-winning firm best known for its unique evidence-driven, strengths-based system for developing extraordinary leaders and demonstrating the performance impact they have on organizations.


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