Garber From Escape Velocity Systems Cited in Quality Digest

by : Thomas Cutler

Respecting a quality manager's opinion is meaningless unless there's enterprise wide buy-in to ideas and quality initiatives. Rarely do the individuals serving on a lean-initiative, continued process-improvement team learn the scientifically proven communication techniques that will persuade others to change their perceptions about quality. This is a brief abstract from the new Quality Digest feature article by manufacturing journalist, Thomas R. Cutler, titled: "No Buy-In? No Change...Perceptions of Quality."

According to Cutler, "Often a lead quality-control professional is perceived as a police officer rather than a trusted advisor within the team or an established guru in the field. Reminiscent of Rodney Dangerfield, more than 72 percent of quality professionals surveyed by my company recently reported they receive too little respect from others within their organization. The same survey revealed that all 392 North American quality managers surveyed wished to be seen by other managers as having a proactive and valuable opinion on how to make the company successful and wanted to break down the walls that separate quality from other departments."

Driving buy-in from the organization for valuable quality initiatives-such as failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA), good manufacturing practices (GMP), continuous improvement, ISO 9001, ISO 14001, the Malcolm Baldrige criteria, and governmental compliance or regulatory requirements-is much easier when quality professionals function effectively.

The missing ingredient that keeps quality professionals from significantly affecting the manufacturing organization is the inability to communicate with, influence, and persuade others within the enterprise.

Quality is often perceived as the part of the organization that is focused on discovering mistakes and problems. This attitude causes fellow employees to resist change-passively or actively-and common-sense improvements. Every day, many operational and production people think their quality leaders cannot communicate effectively, are inflexible, and are unwilling to work as a team.

The costs to repair the destruction caused by miscommunication between customers, suppliers, and departments are extraordinary. One method to quantify the efficacy of buy-in is to measure the initiatives that have been successful because of buy-in and commitment.

Shifting the perception of quality professionals

Evan Garber, president of Escape Velocity Systems (, has found that many clients' quality departments were actually seen to increase customer satisfaction and protect the company from potentially disastrous losses. They are thought to work as a valuable support to solve and prevent problems. "With technology to support this persuasive communication, quality professionals can be a source of creative solutions to improve the efficiency and productivity of the workplace, as well as a source of pride... that provides a distinct competitive advantage," Garber suggests.

Tactical improvements eliminate waste

According to Garber, "Tactical improvements eliminate waste similar to strategic decision making; the goal of making a tactical change is to eliminate waste and improve profit and loss. Improvements are maximized when efficiency is realized by implementing the 'suggestions' revealed by the data." Using this methodology, industrial organizations collect data to help select projects and schedule kaizen events. The only purpose in collecting information is to convert it into value.

Metrics are quantified measurements; the perceptions of metrics are subjective. These attitudes and beliefs about data are best measured by enterprise wide buy-in and commitment to quality initiatives, as well as technology-based strategic and tactical initiatives.

Escape Velocity Systems (EVS) was formed in 2001 to combine specific industry knowledge related to process manufacturing, distribution, and ERP implementations with cutting edge software development. The company focus is to create tools that enable mid-market enterprises to achieve their goals, focusing on lean processes and ROI.