Quality culture : Lessons from a defeat
Quebec, Canada, April 7th 2014. Election day.
What a bruising defeat for the Parti Québécois !
Without any bias towards political views of any kind, I was strucked by the complete absence of understanding of the situation coming from the elected officials from this party.
“We have to think long and hard about the situation and try to understand…..”
Bla, bla, bla….
I am no politician or student in political sciences (science?!!!!) but when I looked at recent datas about employee’s engagement and compared this to the voting proportion of the population, I saw a striking resemblance.
30% did not vote. Of the rest, I hypothesize that half of the remaining percentage are convinced and the other half is resigned.
Recent datas (but then, these numbers do not change a lot from years to year…only getting grimmer !) suggest that only 30% of employees are engaged. About the same proportion are “almost” engaged and the rest …well…the rest of them have probably resigned but decided to stay anyway… oh dear !
What about quality ?
It most definitely suffers.
“We have to think long and hard about the situation and try to understand….”
Oh dear !
The last debacle of the Parti Québécois (PQ) was telling a lot. The worst proportion of voters since its inception in the 1970’s ! I was thinking : in all humility, isn’t it obvious ? Basic motivation theory.
Dan Pink, in his excellent book : DRIVE, explains motivation by defining three (3) components, all of which could help explain the recent downfall of the PQ but, more importantly, helps us predict the state of Quality in one’s organization.
This is basically the MAP of motivation and the drive.
Without delving too deeply into the book (a great read by the way….) let’ s look at each of them.
This is ONE item that has been absent in the recent campaign. Weirdly enough, Quebec’s student made the news around the world two years ago when they took the streets for more than three months, protesting against the expected rise in high education fees.
But this year, the Printemps Érable, as it was called, was a thing of the past. Occulted by the real concern of the politicians, namely : gaining power.
Sooooo…no education plan or promises. Really, a great way to improve a nation and to prevent the brain drain towards other countries. Great move ! Way to go politicians ! Yeah !…
Ah, did I mention that the younger generation voted in a lower proportion than usual ?
What about your Quality culture ?
Do you invest in your employees ? Sufficientl y?
Having employees constantly learning and improving is the way to ensure success.
A manager recently was telling me that it was useless and a complete waste since their employees were leaving so rapidly…I turned the discussion around by asking what was their motivation to stay if they did not receive any training ? The only guarantee is that if you DO NOT provide adequate training programs and education, they WILL leave, for sure! On the other hand, if you DO provide training and support, they MIGHT be more inclined to stay for a while.
The same study I was quoting earlier also looked at the percentage of employees who planned to stay in the organization…unsurprisingly, the percentage was much higher in the “engaged” segment than in the other segments.
As voters in a reasonably well-off country, we all realize that our decision power is limited to elect a deputy. Once every four years. Since we do not have the proportional voting system that other countries use, we live with the consequences….40% of voters have elected a government represented by 70 seats on a potential 125. Well…
And since the word “referendum” is taboo in Quebec, there is no way we will be asked to provide an opinion again before the end of this term.
So autonomy is out ! And part of our motivation to get engaged in politics is gone too !
What about your quality culture ? Do you ask your employees about the direction of your organization ? Do you survey regularly your population to make sure everyone is on board ?
More importantly, do you involve them ? Do you allow them to take Quality decisions ?
A higher purpose. Bigger than any of us. Our ultimate vision. Long term goal. Really long term goal.
This one hurts the Parti Québécois the most. You see, this party’s raison d’être is to secede from Canada, to become an independent nation. From the very beginning in the 70’s, this has been their mission : Everyone knows this in Quebec.
However, since this has not been very popular lately, this party decided not to mention it too loud, or too frequently in recent years. Let’s first get the power, then manage the province well, then, and only then, when everything is right, we will suggest something to start talking about the potential to eventually negotiate the terms of what might become ultimately, if everyone agrees, a nation. But let’s get power first. And let’s make sure we keep it.
Whether anyone agrees with their mission or not, one thing is clear to all : the strategy was not clear to anyone !
Their vision is now blurred. Hopelessly opaque.
How can anyone vote for this ? Well, they did not.
Moreover, and again the parallel with organisational quality is quite obvious, the departing government triggered the election process even though they had voted a law decreeing that election should be held at a fixed date, namely in two years !!!
Not only did they forget their vision, but part of their mission, their modus operandi was totally corrupted. They basically betrayed their whole following by disrespecting their own law !
Walk the talk ?
Well, let’s over-talk and forget to walk…
Yeah, right !
So, no purpose. No vision.
No mission. No clear plan to achieve the vision.
Well, well…how often do we see this in our organizations ?
How often is the true purpose of a given organization progressively corrupted from the original vision to move towards quarterly management of the profit sharing program ?
Too often … is the answer !
And how do the employees react to this ? Are they gullible to this false pretense towards achieving the ultimate goal of the organization ?
At least, not anymore after a while.
No purpose, no vision.
No clear and congruent behaviors from management.
“We have to think long and hard…..”
No. Certainly NOT !
We have to think fast and soft about the whole concept of quality culture.
Crosby mentions it in his 14 points strategy.
So does Deming.
And Juran with his trilogy and spiral of quality.
Each with his own vocabulary.
But each emphasizing the human aspect in all its complexity.
Dan Pink summarizes motivation by three components :
- Mastery and human capital development ;
- Autonomy, delegation and empowerment ;
- Purpose, mission and vision,
Peter Senge has his five disciplines :
- A shared vision
- Team work
- Mental model
- System Thinking
What is YOUR model to implement a Quality culture ?
Do you have such anchors or pillars or lighthouse, whatever metaphors works for your organization ?
Do you have a clear vision of what is Quality in your organization ?
Does upper management believe it and act accordingly ?
Or do you have to fight whenever the specter of Quality is mentioned ?
If anything has to be learned from the PQ debacle in 2014, wherever lies your political allegiance, is that failure to live according to your vision has its consequences.
Do YOU live by your vision and mission ?
If not, think fast and soft about it….
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