18 June 2015
If you're reading this and thinking "My organisation will never
be as good as Toyota, my staff always resist change and our
projects never get anywhere!' You're right, it won't be! In the
words of the great Henry Ford 'whether you think you can or you
think you can't, you're right'.
If you're reading this and thinking 'yes, my organisation is up
for the challenge and we can do this', then please read on.
During Toyota's meteoric rise from humble beginnings to becoming
biggest motor manufacturer in the world, the organisation built
a reputation for world-class quality excellence.
Toyota had a core belief that by focusing on quality, the needs
of the customer and eliminating waste they could manufacture
products efficiently, effectively and ultimately at lower cost;
without sacrificing quality. So what can we learn from Toyota?
Firstly, starting to improve quality doesn't have to be
complicated. Over this three-part blog series, we'll look
- Establishing an authentic quality mind-set
- Quality frameworks - there are so many, which one is right for
- Quality improvements - how do I begin to make
The aim of the series is to help you to reconnect to quality in
a meaningful and tangible way; determine which framework to use and
how to begin making improvements. All supported by simple steps
that you can follow to make an immediate impact.
Establishing an authentic quality mind-set
Like most things in life overuse of a word or expression can
lead to annoyance. 'Quality' can be one of those words, frequently
misused as an ultimatum e.g. 'wemustimprove our quality
performanceor else....' Your first step may be to reclaim 'quality'
and to establish a fresh, authentic connection to it.
Here are some practical starting points.
1) Begin by asking yourself these
- Are you satisfied with your organisation's current levels of
- Is your quality goal, 'to be as good as your peer
organisations', good enough?
If you answered yes to the above, let me pose these scenarios.
- you have a really important dinner date coming up, or
- you're ready to move into your dream home, or
- you're excitedly waiting to have your brand new 60 inch 4K TV
delivered, complete with state of the art surround sound
That's the expectation; this is what actually happens;
- when you arrive for your dinner the restaurant wasn't expecting
you so you have to wait and worse still when the meal eventually
arrives it's stone cold;
- When you move into your dream home the heating doesn't work and
you discover damp across the back of the house;
- when your TV arrives it's the wrong model and the screen is
2) Let me ask, how do you feel? What
happens when we replace the above scenarios with expectations at
your place of work? What would be going through your mind?
Should your patients have a different perspective? Note your
3) In my experience of working with many organisations
across different sectors, it's a cultural shift from a
'requirement' to a 'must-do' that engenders a quality improvement
way of life. 'Quality' shouldn't be a buzz word or a fad.
It's a mind-set and a belief system, something that world class
organisations have at their core. We'll delve into this a little
further in parts two and three of this series.
4) Start the cultural shift in your organisation by
asking your staff the same questions above and carefully taking
note of their responses.
Having completed the above tasks, you'll be armed with powerful
insight into your attitudes to quality and expectations of it. You
will have established an authentic connection to quality, it's more
than a mere word. You will have planted a seed to want to improve
your processes. So what next? In the following blog we'll look at
quality frameworks and take steps to begin the improvement journey
in a structured way.
Toyota dared to dream big about quality. How big do you dare to
Download this blog as a pdf here.
Further help: if you need any further explanation of the above
or guidance with a particular quality issue please do get in touch
Further reading: if you found this useful, you may want to read
our recent article '5 ways to supercharge your transformation
About the author: Abdul Ghani, principal consultant, Capita
Health Advisory, is an innovative and inspirational leader with
multi-sector Lean expertise. He has undertaken over 50 projects
within 16 health and social care trusts across the country,
facilitating workshops, mentoring and coaching staff and creating
training programmes, as well as developing strategies and managing
transformation programmes. Abdul understands that engaging people
is the key to successful and sustainable change, and he achieves
this through involving people in the change and visibly leading
from the front.
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