Welcome 2012! For Pro QC, this year will be met once again with the primary objective of continuous learning and adaptation of skills and services with the intent of adding value to our industry and helping reduce quality risks and cost along the way. Of course, as many of us already know, this is more challenging than it seems. And, just saying that this is what we’d like to do wouldn’t necessarily provide the results we want. So, we have incorporated several principles into our planning process that maintains focus and gets us results.
Top 10 Ways to Add Value & Keep Resolutions:
- Plan, plan, plan… Then, plan some more. – Quality tools are imperative here. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of them or resources that show you when and how to easily incorporate them into your process. (The Quality Toolbox is a an absolute must-have!) Plan objectives that lead to both short-term (micro) and long-term (macro) success (adding value). But, make them S.M.A.R.T. so everything else falls into place as expected.
- Stay Focused – It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day obstacles. The best way to make sure you stay focused on short and long-term objectives (resolutions) is to schedule it in. Figure out a reasonable time you can dedicate each day or week and block it out in your calendar.
- Stay Informed – There’s never a good enough excuse to be unaware of what’s going on in your industry or the general business environment. Think of it as an ongoing PEST analysis, but you will be surprised by the opportunities and threats that you’ll identify by reacting early. Staying informed can be as easy as subscribing to industry blogs and newsfeeds in something like Google Reader, listening to podcasts during your commute or even getting active in industry organizations, such as the American Society for Quality for us.
- Maintain Perspective – Keep your eye on the ball and always be able to answer “why am I doing this?” with a response that directly ties into your specific objectives.
- Dedicate Resources – It’s often one thing to think an idea is good but another to dedicate the time and other resources to the associated activities required to make it happen. If the planning process concluded an activity as something that will generate results, follow through with making sure the resources are there to back-up the successful development.
- Measure the Important Stuff – There was a quote that I can’t quite recall the source of, but it said ~65% of the data we are presented with, we ignore. The point there seems to be we naturally focus on what’s important, so why not free up resources by eliminating data that doesn’t directly have an impact on adding value or those activities that are involved in creating or maintaining value.
- Regularly Review Metrics – Whatever data remains and is deemed as the most relevant to the tasks at hand, people do need to evaluate it and be able to suggest and act on changes that will improve the results. This usually works best when interests from a multitude of departments are involved and one or more people are responsible for managing and making changes.
- Make Decisions Based on Pre-Determined Objectives – Regularly reviewing metrics will likely identify opportunities to rededicate resources and focus, but it’s important to make decisions based on the specific short and long-term objectives identified at the beginning of the process. It’s not necessary to discount an identified opportunity or change of course, but separate efforts.
- Communicate – Join in the conversation and keep all of your stakeholders informed of your activities and related news. Comments and suggestions will increase, which will guide the decision making and planning process. People want to know what’s going on. Communication should be open, honest and welcomed from all levels within the organization and from outside.
- Accept Change – Ralph Waldo Emerson pointed out a key perspective of change, which is that “we change whether we like it or not.” With that logic, focus should be on change management. Organizational culture and the reference to communication as referenced above are good places to start.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~Mahatma Gandhi