ME AND QUALITY
Are we really doing that?
Many people say that they understand what does quality mean? Do they really? Yes they do but just a word QUALITY not the real essence of quality.
When I was doing my Post Graduate Diploma in Quality Management System, I thought I have understood the quality. Yes it is very simple to understand but really difficult to implement. It is common sense which requires uncommon understanding of it. But the just product quality was not in the mind of Dr. Deming. Other things are as important as quality.
Now I know I have to go long way to understand quality. When I was new, for me quality was just to understand the process and implement the Deming’s 14 point and you will achieve quality. But the problem lies here. Big question is HOW. How to implement Deming’s 14 points? Those are generalized principals and so difficult to understand though based on common sense.
I always used to think why any CEO would not want to implement quality when he wants to achieve profit by reducing rework and increasing productivity. Why these all quality gurus emphasize so much on top management commitment. This remained wonder till I came out of Q-school and joint quality field.
Why many companies fail to implement quality smoothly? Because they think quality ask for high budget to be set. Yes true because now it has become business rather than methodology for our own profit. I did analysis to find out how CMMi relates to Deming philosophy as told to me by my idol Balaji Reddie. No doubt I ended with expected results. That where I was wrong. I used to think that Deming philosophy is for quality of product and process improvement. It certainly is but just the part of it. You can not transform by advance or sophisticated problem solving techniques. Transformation is something different, much bigger than quality. It is about the people. We need to understand what people want from the system. What it takes to mold them according to system. It is about developing people, leadership & understanding.
How can you gain profit just implementing any standards or models without understanding the real meaning of quality? ISO, CMMi, Six Sigma all are the buzz words in today’s competitive market to get the business. I re-quote to get the business not to get the profit. It is not that these standards or models are wrong but wrong is the method of implementation. And such companies are doom to fail in achieving profit. Ultimately they blame quality initiative. They want to achieve quality in 10 months (timeframe bound). Some of them want to achieve it in even 5-6 months. I will clear you on this, they are not asking for quality they are asking for certificate. This hurts me a lot since people think we are there just to provide them certificate which can be taken anyhow. Once certificate is achieved quality is finished. And that is where they realize the big mistake they have done. One has to keep his thinking cap on and has to think why CMMi level 5 companies lose their project on part of quality. Answer is simple they are just CMMi level 5. They may not have practiced real quality philosophy as taught by Deming or Juran.
I have found many people who do not know anything about Dr. Deming and his philosophy but pursuing career in quality. Some of them even do not know what seven QC tools are? What we mean by SPC? How you are going to create quality organization without understanding Deming’s management methodology. It is not just about statistical process control. It is a hard core practiced Management Philosophy. It does not require Project manager to be involved into this but rather more importantly top management. While consulting such organization we target wrong person and that is bottom line whereas we need to take commitment from top management for this.
I have seen wrong practice being followed in software organization. The person who is technically good becomes Project Leader. Deming 7th point talks about this as “Institute Leadership” and 6th point as “Institute Training”. Training required for making better leader who can coach and mentor the team, not just because he has expended 4-6 years in coding. Technical experience does not mean that he is a good project leader. I have seen many project leader/manager failing to communicate what s/he wants from his/her team. It is not their mistake, it is the mistake done by top management by not providing adequate fund for training the people on the job. Training on how to plan, how to estimate, how to track the project. Organization thinks that training is not required because one particular individual has good experience in this field and does not require to be trained. He may not be required but process varies from organization to organization. In absence of process training, it may happen that s/he will follow the bad practices of organization. On other side, training is also helpful in learning best practices from individual which they might be following in their previous organization. So Training is not the one way activity, it is two ways. Organization claims that training is not fruitful because if person leaves the organization he takes away that knowledge with him. I am not denying this fact, but if one person is taking the knowledge another person from other organization is bringing the knowledge in. The only effort we have to put is to tape that knowledge by empowering him.
We are fundamentally wrong in our education itself. I would have not got such a better idea of quality software just being a Software developer. This is not my or your mistake. It is the problem with system. System of education. In my MCS I put so much effort for programming but not on software quality. Some of us wanted to be Java specialist, some VB, some Dot Net but none in Quality, not even me. I think we need to have specialization in quality if we want to achieve better quality product and want to increase our software export. We need to spread awareness about quality and its philosophy. Computer Professional forums need to present more topics on quality. Quality should be subject of academic curriculum and you need best trainer for this. Just including quality in curriculum is not going to serve the purpose. We need lecturer and professors who could really integrate quality into blood of these professional.
Now when I talk about quality it simply does not mean only process. It is beyond that. Read Deming’s “Out of Crisis” and you will come to know what quality I am talking about.
Lastly, I am not aiming towards any particular company or individual but just want to bring upfront these issues related to quality and its understanding.
I owe my most of the understanding and study to Balaji Reddie. I am very thankful to him for showing me true guidance and solving queries time to time. He is always ready to help who really want to understand Dr. Deming and his philosophy.
Shabbir Quresh Taiyabi
Deming Follower & a
Student of Balaji Reddie