Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Quality Culture

The new corporate buzz phrase sweeping the nation: Quality Culture. Everywhere you look, there are signs asking: How has Quality Culture affected your work area?

I think we’ve gotten ahead of ourselves. Corporate America hasn't created an environment where the goal is quality. We’ve created an environment where no one wants to take the blame.

We don’t go into projects saying, “How can I make sure this is the best project ABC Co., can do?” We go in saying, “What can I do to make sure I’m not to blame if this project fails?”

From a form that gets kicked back because it’s missing the date, to projects sitting at a standstill while each cog in the wheel argues over whose job it is to define what's needed, too much time is wasted pointing fingers and assigning blame.

You won’t often hear: “Let me help you,” thereby helping the company. Instead, you hear (either in words or actions) “It’s not my job.”

A few months ago, at my company, one department needed a non-standard fix to a problem. Finding a permanent solution would take months and the project would have missed the federally mandated tax deadline. So the department asked, “what can we do for a quick fix now, and then come back and find the solution when we have time?”

What they got in return was “That’s not how we do it. You need to figure out a solution for yourself.”

Today, I stood in front of the entrance to one of our restricted warehouses waiting for someone to acknowledge my presence. You can only enter with an escort. For five minutes, I stood there as no fewer than three associates walked right by me, each of them multiple times.

It was finally an associate from the other side of the building who came to help. The entire time I spent in the actual area I needed? Less than thirty seconds.

That is not a quality culture. That is a culture of “find someone to blame” but “don’t look at me.” Like most companies, everyone is looking to blame someone else, but no one wants to take chances for fear they'll be blamed if it fails.


  1. Yeah, but I've also seen people who try hard to do well, myself being one, and then before you know it, you're taking the blame for someone over you, and there's nothing you can do. sigh.

  2. Shit rolls downhill. Bonuses do not. It's the law of gravity.