Lian is a quality manager in China and working on a big quality improvement initiative in Nanjing. Today she comes back from vacation in Europe and is shocked visiting the work place: “You cannot imagine. All what we had achieved and worked out before the summer break, was gone. They had fallen back to the old habit of doing it. I am so frustrated. When I go through the plant the workers smile at me and quickly try to please me doing things different in front of my eyes. But it will not last. The big issue in our field: We do business like mad and sell whatever comes out, quality is not jet driving the market, it is just delivery.” As a quality manager she has no influence on leadership. And this is where the problem lies, the management ignores the workforce, plays around and thinks: It is good enough, anyway.
This reminds me very much on the beginning of quality initiatives, when Edward Deming had worked in Japan in the 50ies. He knew that quality is not a technical measurement, but the way how to lead people and processes. All his findings of the 14 ways of management and 7 ways to avoid, gives a deep insight. See several videos about E. Deming on Youtube. Best is about the reaction of America towards the imports of better and cheaper cars from Japan. General Motors had just managed to get to the economic point: Good enough. But Toyota showed the market: we do better. Toyota believes in continuous improvement and took over leadership of quality and was driving the market.
As the old Chinese Sun Tzu said: “A skillfull executive moves her competition; She does not allow the competition to move her.”
I loved his Deming video about transformation, though not easy to understand, as he is already 92. I wrote it down. His view is very systemic. Text: Deming about transformation