Quality counts. Or does it?

According to new research from ASQ(American Society for Quality), an association of professionals in the field of quality management and improvement, and Forbes Insights, a clear vision, solid values and strong leadership are key components to a successful culture of quality — and that culture of quality can help organizations drive results.

However, only about 60 percent of all respondents think management unequivocally supports their organization’s quality vision and values, of which nearly 60 percent say are clearly stated.

Making Quality the Priority

The findings are reported in “Culture of Quality: Accelerating Growth and Performance in the Enterprise” (registration required). The respondents included 1,010 senior leaders and 1,281 quality professionals from a variety of industries across the globe.

The report explores organizations’ support of quality and the key components of a successful culture of quality, and features actionable insight into how a quality-driven culture can accelerate business performance from organizations such as Samsung, FedEx and Tata.

"To be effective, a culture of quality must permeate an entire organization,” said ASQ Chair Stephen Hacker. He contends that a high-impact quality culture can have "dramatic and positive effects on an organization’s bottom line.”

Although 75 percent of C-suite executives think their organization exhibits “a comprehensive, group-wide culture of quality,” only 59 percent overall believe this. Responses drop to less than half among those with "quality" in their job titles, showing that there is a disconnect between those in the C-suite and those outside of it when it comes to views on an organization’s culture of quality.

Learning Opportunities

"The senior executives that ASQ works with truly lead and drive cultures of quality. They drive performance based on continuous improvement," said ASQ Managing Director Laurel Nelson-Rowe. HP is a great example of this, Nelson-Rowe continued, adding, "Its CEO speaks quality and has realigned the organization from the top down and the bottom up, prioritizing quality at the top of the business."

Quality Climbs at World-Class Firms

Twelve percent of survey respondents self-describe their quality programs as world-class (among the strongest and most advanced in the world).

  • 48 percent of respondents think customer needs are the key driver of their quality programs, but the figure rises to 71 percent for world-class companies
  • Only 24 percent think their organizations are highly effective in identifying customer needs and expectations for quality, but the figure more than doubles to 52 percent for world-class organizations
  • 60 percent of respondents compared to 72 percent at world-class organizations use customer surveys to evaluate performance against quality metrics
  • 81 percent of world-class companies say that all KPI s can be tracked directly to an overall business vision compared with only 64 percent overall believe that

"Organizations range from those where quality is just a slogan to those where quality is a deep focus for everyone from the CEO on down," said Bruce Rogers, Chief Insights Officer at Forbes Media. (Forbes Insight is a division of Forbes Media.)

Many corporations put a premium on other aspects of the business, sacrificing a rigorous attention to a quality of culture, while world-class companies put quality on par with every other demand of the business, enabling continuous improvement and accelerating innovation.

Title image by wetwebwork  (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.