Recently, manufacturing publication Industry Week presented a two part series that asked the question: What is the Continuum of Quality Management? Part one of the series explored the organizational structure, competence assurance, and procedural adherence of eight different organizations, and found the following:

  • Most organizations have a centralized continuous improvement and quality team, which works directly with business units. However, this means that the support from senior management is very limited.
  • Those organizations in which the CI and quality team were located high up in the organizational structure, using decentralized staff in order to act as consultants to the business units, tended to have a higher performance of quality measures.
  • Organizations with well developed competency models integrated those models into their job descriptions, training, and performance evaluations. One company assesses its training programs every two years to ensure the relevancy of them. Management owns these training programs, with a training group providing facilitation.
  • The biggest challenge in the adoption of unified standards is daily adherence to those standards by staff.
  • One organization utilizes two front-line compliance teams — corporate and operations — to monitor adherence to procedures. It also uses an observations mechanism where a supervisor and a manager both monitor an employee and the manager monitors how the supervisor coaches the employee.
  • It was discovered that most organizations are midway on the continuum of quality management. The differences seen in the levels of quality management among various organizations depended on the amount of executive involvement in quality practices.

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