Thursday, April 22, 2010

Four big ideas that drive quality

On slideshare, you can check out a paper I wrote on four big ideas that drive quality, particularly in agile methods.  Here are the points, summarized for the blog:

The Focus should be on Customers: Perhaps this is an obvious idea that is on everybody's list, but actually it is the Deming v Juran debate.  Deming was a product guy--make it right, make it the right way.  Juran was a customer guy--make it fit customer need.  Of course, there really shouldn't be a debate; Deming and Juran were both right, but in the end, customers, in the broad sense of the word, pay all the bills!  Customers can only be the ultimate focus because without customer buy-in to the quality of the outcomes, all is for naught.

Continuous improvement is a project imperative: There can be no substitute for a learning organization, and that includes project, even short ones.  Every team, group, and enterprise should be a unit in transformation, continually improving performance, capability, and capacity. Plan-do-check-act is nearly sixty years old, but actually it's still relevant, especially the check-act thing.  Take a moment to reflect on what you've done or are going--that's check; and then act to apply learning for improvement.

Total participation involves everyone: There is a place for the loner, the eccentric, and the individual contributor, but in general, the best outcomes involve the synergy of everyone contributing.  This may be a little harder with virtual settings, but it borrows a page from the wisdom of the crowds as well as recognizing that every individual can make a contribution, so every individual should make a contribution toward improvement.

Societal networking is flattening: Social networking may sound like a new idea, but it's been around since the onset of human groups; just the technology has changed.  What is new, or at least revisited, is the way social networking has flattened the hierarchy.  Now, there's no excuse for misunderstanding the spirit and the letter of the customer's needs: just ask!

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