The 10 steps are the things to do to make Improving Quality a reality. They provide the system that will enable you to work together; however, it is not a rigid, mechanical system that must be followed "by the numbers."

Eventually, you will take part in all 10 steps - but not in any special order or even at the same time.

Which steps to be taken next and practice most often will depend on your individual work situations - on the problems identified and the actions that are most effective in solving those problems.

STEP 1: COMMITMENT

Commitment is the core or hub of Improving Quality. With Commitment, you must support the other nine steps.

A Commitment is a personal pledge of action. Management must make it clear where they stand on quality. Management and staff must demonstrate commitment. It will change the way you do your job; therefore, it is a commitment you must make personally and individually. Commitment will ensure participation and support improvement.

The intent of this step is met: when quality becomes as important as cost and delivery in your daily operation; when you take the time to do it right the first time; when defective work is returned to suppliers rather than accepted; when you always ask "why" when an error occurs; and when you take permanent corrective action.


STEP 2: IMPROVEMENT TEAMS

Commitment is personal and individual, but nobody works completely alone. Your jobs and skills interlock in ways that make you mutually dependent. For that reason, working in teams is important to Improving Quality.

Different kinds of teams are needed, each with different capabilities. Some are permanent; others are temporary, ad hoc teams that will disband when their task is completed. Among the different types of teams that exist are are for example : a Management Team for policy and guidance; Quality Councils in each area for planning; Quality Improvement Teams for implementing and monitoring; and Corrective Action Teams for identifying root causes of problems and implementing preventive solutions.

Special training will often be required for effective team operation. This must be provided.

This step is being carried out: when everybody is willing to serve on teams and volunteer to do so; when teams are formed and are meeting regularly; when everyone on teams attends and participates; and when you ask "why" if teams are not being formed or aren't functioning well.

STEP 3: EDUCATION

Improving Quality could be new to you. That means you need education. Everybody must learn about Improving Quality through various courses available, each made up of several class sessions.

The courses must be focused on all levels within the organisation; from top management down to shop floor. A common understanding [language] of quality must be instilled within the whole organisation for success to be achieved.

View the courses available for further information.

Education and training reflect the nature of Improving Quality itself. There is no finish line. Improving Quality renews itself; so does education, with updated and new courses and seminars to meet new developments.

The intent of this step is met: when there is a training plan; when everybody completes these courses; when new staff members are inducted and being trained as they join your organisation; and when everybody takes advantage of additional skills training.

STEP 4: MEASURE, DISPLAY & REVIEW

Measuring is a primary technique for Improving Quality. If you don't measure it, you cannot manage it. It helps individuals and teams reduce the rate of errors, making everybodies work more effective for each other. In most organisations you can't work on everything at once. Measuring the rate of errors for two or three of your operations is the best way to concentrate your efforts.

Display and review of what you measure is just as important as what you measure. Everyone must understand exactly what is being measured, so that you are all talking the same language and pulling in the same direction - and so that progress in reducing errors is readily visible to everyone in the organisation or group. Trends must be identified and reviewed and actions taken to ensure pre-determined performance standard; "close the gap" process.

The intent of this step is being met: when teams have found ways to identify and track errors; when they see the charts as an aid, not a threat; and when they identify and suggest error rates to be measured and displayed.

STEP 5: COST OF QUALITY

Doing work wrong, doing it over, checking for errors, and preventing errors all have costs attached to them. These are large costs, and they rob you of the time and resources you need - never mind your diminishing bottom-line.

The cost of quality action requires that you set up procedures to measure the cost errors add to our work, as a basis for identifying problems, understanding the requirements and setting priorities for removing those problems.

This step is not used for individual performance reviews or to compare one team to another. Focusing on the real cost of errors is a positive tool that enables each team to gauge its own improvement.

The intent of this step is being met: when information collection procedures are set up and reports are published regularly; when you recognise the true cost that errors add to achieving quality; and when the cost of quality is going down.

STEP 6: COMMUNICATION

This step ensures that you share information as directly and completely as you can.

Communication is most effective person-to-person, face-to-face. Therefore, regular meetings that focus on problems and improvements in and around your departments are the keystone of this action.

Successful communication requires candid talk, willingness to listen as well as speak, and concentration on the clear exchange of information. It is helpful to use the "language" and terminology of Improving Quality in your day-to-day discussions.

The intent of this step is met: when meetings are disciplined and held regularly and when a sound plan for mass communication is in operation.

STEP 7: CORRECTIVE / PREVENTIVE ACTION

This step is the "front lines" of Improving Quality. When you find that you have made an error, your first responsibility is to understand why and to take corrective action to make sure it doesn't happen again.

The basic assumption of corrective action is that most errors are not caused by people; they are caused by defect processes. Processes that are not meeting requirements. Therefore, the objective of corrective action is simply to set up a process to identify and eliminate errors. The process should be a "closed loop"- that is, the problem stays in the system for feedback and continual re-evaluation until there is positive proof that it is solved [prevention].

The large problems that corrective action focuses on usually involve more than one area, so the process provides for Corrective Action Teams (CATs) that represent different teams and skills.

Documentation is a key part of corrective action. This means keeping a written record so that nothing is left to chance or memory, and so that other teams can learn from your experience when they face similar problems.

Everybody can do four things to support corrective action:

Identify and analyse the cause(s) of errors in your individual jobs and create your own preventive processes;

For problems that involve others, report the problem and ask that a Corrective Action Team be formed.

Join Corrective Action Teams and be willing and active members.

Record the analysis process, decisions, and changes that are implemented, in order to document the results of corrective action. Communicate these changes to those concerned.

The intent of this step is met: when everybody takes responsibility for reporting problems and for finding permanent [preventive] solutions to them.

STEP 8: RECOGNITION

This step has two objectives: to encourage participation in Improving Quality and to reward individual and team contributions to improvement.

Recognition is a difficult step to implement. In an organisation where everyone does a good job and tries hard, how do you single out certain people? The key is fairness. Recognition must be based on consistent guidelines for recognising individuals and teams. Accomplishments must be documented. And the guidelines and reasons for recognition must be communicated clearly to everyone.

The award programs should be defined by the organisation. There are various ways of doing this. The important thing is the recognition itself and the personal or collective satisfaction it brings.

The intent of this action is being met: when a recognition plan is in place to appreciate those who achieve and participate and when recognition is a way of life.

STEP 9: EVENT

This step is, in a sense, the "flip side" of recognition. Since you recognise special contributions to Improving Quality, you should also recognise the total effort with an event.

The event occurs after you have made substantial progress toward Improving Quality. It provides an occasion to review accomplishments and to rededicate yourselves to Improving Quality in an informal and enjoyable environment.

This step should occur when the first eight actions are in place and when there is general agreement that Improving Quality is actually changing your behavior.

STEP 10: GOAL SETTING & CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT

This step calls on you to set goals for Improving Quality.

It may seem odd that this Action comes last, because most of you are accustomed to setting goals first. However, since the basic purpose of Improving Quality is to change the way we do things, setting goals at the beginning would be unrealistic. Only when you have mastered the new ways to identify problems, understand the requirements, measure them, and take corrective action to solve them can you set achievable goals.

Your Improving Quality goals should be specific - such as aiming for a particular percentage decrease in an error rate - and obtainable within a specific time frame. When you meet that goal, you can go on to a new one, again and again.

The intent of this step is being met: when everybody is routinely setting personal goals and taking part in setting team goals for continuous business improvement.

Quality is -

"Never having to say you're sorry"