“Tell me I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
- Ben Franklin
As the quote mentioned above says everyone will learn when they get involved in whatever they do. Institutionalising quality in an organisation is one such activity where everyone should be involved so that they learn about it and strive to make it a part of their day to day activity and integrate it with the organisation. This article gives you a framework to institutionalise quality in an organisation by describing the essential components for quality assurance and facilitates the processes required to achieve it. This framework has been tested in many countries and can be applied at any level from small shop floors to organisations.
The QA model:
The entire model is built around Quality which forms the core of the Quality Assurance model (QA Model). The Quality assurance is encompassed by three components which forms the basis of quality, they are QD – Quality Definition, QM – Quality Measurement and QI – Quality Improvement. Every organisation must define what quality is, then quantify it and measure it so that it can improve it further continuously. For example, Ritz Carlton hotels developed Service Quality Indicators (SQI) to keep track of the quality of their customer services.
The core quality activities must be supported by the 3 components shown in the figure so that there is effective implementation and integration of quality with the organisation. The enabling environment represents the organisational support rendered in the institutionalisation process. Anything in the industry can be done only when there is commitment and support from the top level management of the organisation. The top level management should provide the essential environment in the organisation by providing necessary policies for initial implementation with well-directed leadership for guidance in implementation with proper allocation of necessary resources in terms of man, machine, money and material. This should be planned in such a way to sustain it so that quality gets institutionalised should lead to the integration of quality in the core values of the organisation. Toyota’s quality assurance is based on its core principle of “Customer first, Quality first and go & see at the scene” which provides an environment fruitful for quality implementation.
Once the organisation is through in getting the support of the organisation in implementation of the quality by creating the necessary environment it should move to the next stage in the QA model , Organising for Quality (i.e.) creating a proper structure in the organisation for quality. It involves processes like delineation of responsibilities among teams within the organisation. Team work plays a crucial role in giving a structure to the implementation process. There is no particular structure as such, it is up to the organisation to decide how to form teams for this process according to them. South west Airlines used 12 different teams to maintain their quality in providing shortest flight turnarounds by proper handling of passengers and their luggage every day.
The final stage of the QA model is the support functions that are required to the implementation process. These include three components namely,
- Capacity Building – Enhancing technical, managerial, leadership and knowledge skills of employees in the organisation.
- Communication and Information Systems – For proper recording, sharing and learning of the processes in the system.
- Rewards – Rewards for employees who made efforts to improve quality in the organisation.
Toyota uses world class production systems which help in producing high quality products. They also reward employees who come up with innovative ideas to improve quality.
Once all the components in the above given framework is made ready the Organisation is in a position to make a move in towards institutionalising Quality. After the initial stages of implementation is done the organisation should go for quality improvement as a continuous process by constantly implementing, monitoring and improving the process in a cyclical manner. By doing so the organisation will be able to integrate quality into its core values and institutionalise quality.
Let us look at this framework in detail using the following example of NH hospitals.
Example: Institutionalising Quality in Narayan Hrudalaya Hospitals
Core quality Activities:
Providing high quality health care to people bench marking international quality standards.
Vision statement: To provide high quality healthcare, with care and compassion, at an affordable cost, on a large scale.
Leadership: Dr. Devi Shetty, Founder of the hospital, who provided the direction for the development of NH as a hospital providing high quality health care at an affordable cost.
Core values: The core values portray strive to excel individually and collectively to ensure highest quality of consistent and reliable health care to their patients.
Organising for quality:
The hospital has proper delineation of responsibilities with a well-defined organisational structure that helps in ensuring quality from a tiny level in the supply of drugs to the higher levels of performing open heart surgeries.
The staff in the hospital from nurses to speciality doctors are well trained. The hospital has a common information system and proper records of the patients so that there is proper recording, sharing and learning associated about the patients and the method of treatment to the doctors.
Thus with the use of QA model we can understand that the institutionalisation of quality in the NH hospitals is because of the clear definition of quality , co-operation of the top level management , well-defined organisational structure coupled with the necessary support functions.
- Narayan Hrudalaya Heart Hospital: Cardiac Care for the Poor - Harvard business school case by Taryn Khanna, V.Kasturi Rangan and Merlina Manogaran.
- South West Airlines in Baltimore - Harvard business school case by Rogelio olive and Jody Hoffer Gittel.
- The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company - Harvard business school case by Sandra J. Sucher and Stacy E. Mcmanus
This article is written by Vanamamalai R. Vana holds a B.E in Mechanical Engineering. His interests lie in reading and drama.Vana also enjoys playing Volleyball. Reach Vana at email@example.com