Evolution of Organization for Quality

Manufacturing industries in the past centralized their quality related activities in a quality department. However in the 1980’s and 1990’s quality in organizations in the United States evolved along the following lines:

  1. Quality management tasks were assigned to functional line departments rather than to a separate quality department. Process capability studies were transferred to process engineering department from the quality department.
  2. Personnel in functional departments were trained in tools of quality management and were made responsible for implementing modern concepts of quality.
  3. Quality management included all activities of an organization apart from manufacturing. The scope of quality management was broadened to include external and internal customers.
  4. Authority to make decisions was delegated to lower levels.
  5. Organizations started including key suppliers and customers in quality activities which gave rise to the term partnering.

These trends resulted in the implementation of new quality approaches like TQM that led to (1) flatter organizations (2) decrease in size and increase in output and (3) inclusion of lower level employees in planning.

Vision-Based Improvement

It is important for the management to create a sense of purpose that everyone in the organization can identify themselves with and support it. Team work is beneficial on two counts: (1) work will be done faster because all are doing it together and (2) work will be done in a better manner due to agreement reached between members of the team.

All organizations must have a vision that fits with the objectives of the stakeholder (internal and external). There are two types of organizational visions: (1) external and (2) internal. The external vision relates to the mission of the organization. It denotes what the organization does and how it is relevant to the outside world. External vision can often serve as a rallying point for an organization, as was NASA’'s mission to place a man on the moon and bring him back safely to the earth by the end of the decade. External visions help gain consensus on the way forward and motivate employees to focus their attention on organizational goals. For an external vision to be effective it has to be quantified and progress toward achieving it must be measured periodically.

While it is common for organizations to have an external vision, only few have internal visions. An internal vision is an agreed-upon framework that looks at the future culture and operations within the organization. It creates a healthy friction between the current state and the desired future state thereby stimulating improvement activities. Friction means that every time a person in the organization looks at the current state they strive to improve it because they believe in the vision and are dissatisfied with the present state. Internal visions must be laid down in plain language understandable by all.

Role of Upper Management

Upper management develops strategies for quality and ensures their implementation through personal leadership. The roles of the upper management specifically are:

  1. Establish and serve on a quality council.
  2. Establish quality strategies.
  3. Establish and deploy quality tools.
  4. Provide resources for quality activities.
  5. Provide training in quality methodology.
  6. Review progress and stimulate improvement.
  7. Provide reward and recognition.
  8. Serve on upper management quality improvement teams that look into quality problems of an upper management nature.

Upper management has to provide visible leadership and commitment to establish a positive quality culture.

Role of Quality Director

The quality director has two primary roles: (1) administering the quality department and (2) assisting the upper management with strategic quality initiatives. The quality director aids in implementation of strategic quality initiatives by:

  1. Assessing quality
  2. Formulating goals and policies
  3. Developing quality strategies to increase sales revenue and reduce internal costs
  4. Delegating organizational responsibilities for quality
  5. Carrying out reward and recognition
  6. Reviewing progress
  7. Determining personal roles for upper management
  8. Acting as facilitator to the quality council
  9. Integrating quality with strategic business planning cycle

The quality director should act as the right hand of upper management on quality in the same way that the chief financial officer acts as the right hand of upper management on finance.

Role of Middle Management

Middle managers, supervisors and professional specialists execute the quality strategy developed by upper management. The roles of middle level management are:

  1. Nominating quality problems for solutions.
  2. Serving as leaders for various types of quality teams.
  3. Serving as members of quality teams.
  4. Serving in the task force to aid the quality council to develop elements of quality strategy.
  5. Leading quality improvement activities in own area by displaying a personal commitment and encouraging employees.
  6. Meeting with customers and suppliers to identify and address their needs.

Middle managers are generally tasked to lead a cross functional quality improvement team. It can be challenging at times because the leader has no hierarchical authority over anyone in the team as members come from various departments and have other priorities in their respective home departments. Success of the team leader depends on technical competence, ability to get people to work together as a team and personal sense of responsibility to arrive at solutions to problems.

Role of Workforce

Workforce denotes all employees excluding those in management and professional specialists. Most quality problems are management or system controllable. The management must therefore (1) direct steps necessary to identify and remove the causes of quality problems and (2) provide a system that places workers in a state of self-control. Inputs and cooperation by the workforce is essential in tackling quality problems. The roles of the workforce are:

  1. Nominating quality problems that should be taken up for solution.
  2. Serving as members in various types of quality teams
  3. Identify elements in their tasks that do not meet the criteria of self-control.
  4. Become knowledgeable to the needs of customers. (Internal and external).

Quality goals cannot be attained unless the heads and the hands of the workforce are put to good use.

Organization for R&D

The common organizational structures are functional/line, project and matrix.

Functional/line organization: Functional organizations are aligned along disciplines, technology or technical specialties. Within this organization researchers are grouped by specialties.


  • Allows for sharing of knowledge and keeping up with the various projects conducted by people in the group.
  • Ability to share knowledge is enhanced in this type of structure thereby providing technical continuity.
  • Personnel can be switched between projects allowing the manager great flexibility in allotting technical resources.
  • Reporting is well established and vertical with each person reporting to only one person.
  • Uniformity and continuity in policies and procedures is possible.


  • Functional organizations are not customer focused which leads to slow responses to the needs of the customer.
  • Functional priorities may outweigh project priorities.
  • Since no one individual is responsible for the success of the project there is no project planning or authority.

Project Organization: A project organization is one where everything needed to complete the project – personnel, material and hardware—is contained within the organization.


  • Project organization tends to be totally output oriented and has all the disciplines needed to produce a finished product.
  • Project manager has total authority for completion of the project.
  • Communication lines are short and well defined.
  • Upper level management can focus on executive tasks rather than running the daily activities of the project.


  • Multiple projects cause duplication of people, facilities and effort.
  • Technical depth of the project personnel will diminish over time.
  • Competition between project groups may develop leading to “us versus them” attitude.
  • Costs of operation of a project organization are high because of duplication of resources.

Matrix Organization: A matrix organization is a combination of the functional and project organization.


  • Emphasis is placed on the project while at the same time not separating the project specialists from their functional technical base.
  • Project communications move in two directions, across the project and within the technical base.
  • Problem areas and conflicts are identified and resolved quickly.
  • Specialists share their knowledge freely and when problems arise there is a greater talent pool to call on for solutions.


  • Dual reporting relationship leads to many pressures being placed on the person. Which boss comes first? The functional boss or the project boss?
  • Personnel working on a project do not attain team spirit. They may work for one project today and may be assigned to another project tomorrow.
  • Matrix structure is costly because it needs more resources and personnel than a functional organization.

While choosing an organizational structure technology, products, markets, goals and strategies play an important role. There is no such thing as good or bad organizational structures; there are only appropriate and inappropriate ones. If an inappropriate structure has been chosen, the organization has to learn from its mistakes and improve the structure.

Organization for Improvement

Organizing for improvement is about applying the existing management structure to initiate continuous improvement activities. The effort is led by a steering committee consisting of organizational leadership. Reporting to the steering committee are Quality Improvement Teams who focus on key improvement areas and also charter the Corrective Action Teams.

Steering Committee: this is a group of top level managers (called Quality Council by Juran) and their job is to lead significant changes in the way the research organization is run. No change for the better is possible without their support and only their full participation can ensure significant change. The responsibilities of this council are:

  1. Determining readiness of the organization for change
  2. Defining the mission of the laboratory/organization.
  3. Creating an overall vision for the laboratory/organization.
  4. Establishment of a mechanism for improvement.
  5. Provide training
  6. Working on building a supporting culture.

Quality Improvement Teams: The task of the quality improvement team is to focus on one or more of the key areas for change. The team needs to identify the present state of the organization with respect to a particular area and then determine what the desired future state is. The functions of the QIT are:

  1. Define suitable metrics to determine progress towards improving the current state or achieving the desired future state.
  2. QIT gives authorization, resources and identifies special training needed for Corrective Action Teams (CATs).
  3. They monitor the progress of the CATs and provide feedback through the sponsor. One member of the QIT acts as a sponsor to the CAT.

Corrective Action Teams (CATs): Corrective Action Teams have to establish a clear understanding of the problem. A series of interactions with the sponsoring QIT is required until the problem is properly defined and scoped. Once the assignment is clear the team uses tools such as quality function deployment and seven step process to tackle the problem on hand. Once they get started they have to apprise area managers of the developments to avoid friction and turf wars, since CATs are cross functional. The team has to proceed by recognizing that resistance to change occurs in many ways and for different reasons.

Quality Culture

Quality culture relates to the quality of products and services. Quality culture can stretch to two possible extremes: (1) negative quality culture (hide the scrap scenario) and (2) positive quality culture (“climb the ladders to delight the customer”).

Four different quality cultures are possible: (1) absence of quality emphasis (2) error detection (3) error prevention and (4) creative quality. More advanced levels of quality culture are associated with high levels of organizational effectiveness.

An important starting point is to determine the current culture. Knowing the quality culture enables the management to implement strategies that make people embrace the right quality culture and make it effective. A change for the better is possible if goals and measurement, evidence of upper management leadership and empowerment is provided to the employees.

Corporate Culture

Corporate culture consists of habits, beliefs, values and behavior. Management has to define and create the right culture necessary for business success. Eight primary values constitute a positive corporate culture:

  1. Purpose: It is the vision stated in terms of product or service and benefit to customer.
  2. Consensus: Three decision making styles: command, consultative and consensus, —should be used as the situation demands.
  3. Excellence: Management must create an environment that is conducive for pursuit of knowledge for improvement.
  4. Unity: The emphasis is on ownership of work and participation by employees.
  5. Performance: Individual and team rewards should go hand in hand with performance measurements to tell employees how they are doing.
  6. Empiricism: The use of scientific methods and fact for managing an organization.
  7. Intimacy: It relates to sharing of feelings, ideas and needs in an open and trustworthy manner without the fear of punishment.
  8. Integrity: Managers must act as role models to promote ethical practices and lead by example.

An innovative approach to corporate culture is in the form of “appreciative inquiry”. Discussions are held with employees to find out what practices in the organization are “most liberating to the human spirit”. On identification of these, the focus shifts to planning for change to build and capitalize on these practices.