Establishing a Culture of Quality

Any journey to establish or improve the culture of quality in an organization begins with why you would want a better culture of quality. Errors related to poor quality can cost your company time and materials, in addition to your company’s valuable reputation.

Let’s say you have a company with 3,000 employees, and two-thirds of them work building or installing products. If 10% of those employees currently deal with a quality problem once a week, with an average of two hours of labor (estimated $50/hr with overhead) and $100 worth of parts per problem, how much can that poor quality cost you? It can add up to a staggering $2.08 million per year!

Estimated Cost of Poor Quality
200 employees experiencing quality issues weekly
Parts 200 x $100 $20,000
Labor 200 x $50 x 2 hours $20,000
52 weeks/year $2,080,000


More Than Just Following the Rules

Quality issues can quickly add up to a very large amount of money, and every dollar wasted in scrap comes right off your gross profit. Time lost is also opportunity lost in the ability to do more work for your customers. In the above scenario, a mere 1% reduction in your scrap percentage (10% down to 9%) could save you $208K per year! When an item is scrapped because of poor quality, it also has a demoralizing effect on the people involved. Most people want to take pride in the work they produce.

So how do we improve the culture of quality in our organizations? Although quality management systems and their associated policies, procedures and documentation are important to a well-managed quality program, they do not establish the culture of quality in an organization. This culture comes from the employees at ALL levels, with everyone taking ownership for their actions and pride in doing things right. This is what builds a superior culture of quality in an organization.

Walking the Walk? Or Just Talking the Talk?

All the talk and propaganda in the world will have minimal impact on the quality of the items a company produces if employees do not believe the message they are told. Although a true change in the culture needs to occur at all levels to be effective, it must start by being emphasized as a priority by leadership, in both their words and their actions. If a company’s leadership speaks of the need for better quality but doesn’t allow for the extra resources and time to make the changes happen, the culture will never change, and neither will the quality.

Take the First Step

Here are the key elements to making an improvement in the culture of quality of your organization:

  • Employees taking responsibility for the quality of the work they perform
  • Employees holding each other responsible for the quality of all work performed
  • Leadership holding themselves responsible for their role in emphasizing the importance of quality in all levels and activities in the company
  • Leadership providing the resources required to make continual changes and improvements in products and processes

Although leadership support and involvement are required for success, improvements in a company’s culture of quality can start at any level. It all starts with taking responsibility for the quality of what you do.

Are you proud of the work you do each and every day?