Thursday, November 3, 2011
Many men can attest to a physiologic phenomenon known as “performance anxiety” when over-thinking interferes with sexual performance. For most, it is a short-term problem. For a very few it can be disabling for a long, long time.
Recently, I have been reading and hearing about a new management phenomenon which I think can be analogous. I refer to it as “Quality Anxiety”. “Lean is Dead” “ISO9000 is Dead” “Is Six Sigma Dead?” “Baldrige is Dead”, “the term Quality is out of vogue”. All these titles and phrases come directly out of recent Quality literature. It’s enough to make a Qualitologist nervous.
The reality is, of course, that what is happening is that Quality tools are going through an acceptance curve, commonly seen almost every service and product sector. (see below. These curves represent product uptake over time. They are not to scale). One type, Fad-Fade-Fail (think buggy whips) comes and goes and can not adapt to change. The second type, Fad-Fade-Find (think pharmaceuticals) comes, goes, and eventually finds its stable marketplace. The third type, Fad-Fade-Fight (think women’s fashion industry) comes, goes, and then gets a second bump when styles come back. The point is every product and service has a come-and-go cycle. Depending on other variables, they may get a second wave (or not).
One of the points made is that 53 of 58 large companies that used Six Sigma trailed the S&P 500 since implementing Six Sigma. This does not surprise me. A few years back Boiral and Amara looked at the relationships that affected successful effective ISO9000 certifications (27%) from unsuccessful ones (73%). Organizations that were successful (like mine) are internally motivated, focused on product improvement, and are open to change. I have also worked in institutions that have none of those characteristics. For large organizations, change is slow and laborious, and far too diffuse to have any sense of cohesive motivation. This is a guaranteed formula for failure.
Six Sigma consultants have a lot of short term ride-the-fad success and revenue with little on the back side. Time will tell is these organizations can figure out how to deal with change.
In this month’s QP, Dean Hubbard and Paul Klute have written an article about the Baldrige which has recently lost its funding base and, according to the authors, has also lost its way because the program went through Fad-Fade-Fail (?) for the manufacturing and service industries, Overall, however, the program has never been healthier because they were smart enough to attract the education and healthcare sectors. Healthcare is surging, probably because organizations see that Quality will save time, effort, energy and money (TEEM) and protect again patient safety liability.
If the next administration is smart, they will recognize that Quality saves lives and money and will go back to funding Baldrige, but from healthcare – Medicare Medicaid sources.
Finally, on the subject that the word “Quality” is going out of vogue. There are a group of people within the conformity assessment group in ISO (ISO CASCO) who see no point to the term “Quality Management”. As far as they can see things, management is management. The concept that organizations address Quality, and Risk, and Finances, and Safety all very differently seems to be lost on them. But then again, they continue to support a document that is effectively unchanged since 1999.
In Baldrige, the word Quality was dropped and replaced with “performance excellence” which doubles the word count and triples the letter count, both of which “don’t impress me much”.
In my world, the term “Quality” has a lot of significance still. Quality is the meeting of requirements, which links “Quality” to customer needs and to assessment criteria and most importantly to innovation. Just because I am flexible and open to change, doesn’t mean I have to support every change.
So to come back to Quality Anxiety, there are lots of ways to reduce stress. Do the same steps that are recommended for overcoming performance anxiety. Take up exercise and relaxing baths. Stop focussing on the Fads and failures. And put some flexibility in your life.