The” future of quality” is the hot seat topic for discussion this month. Bill’s question is whether, in future, quality will undergo an evolutionary change or a revolutionary change! Per Bill, evolutionary change means moving down traditional paths of quality but reach newer destinations in recognizable and well-defined ways. On the other hand, revolutionary change means the changes to fundamentals, newer value cycles and sharing of knowledge freely in newer media.
Over the past several years, quality has undergone smaller, but incremental changes - the evolutionary way. I think it will undergo revolutionary changes, from now onwards - at least for another decade or so. Here are my associated thoughts:
Today’s business environment is highly competitive and dynamic. Companies that offer products or services, strive to compete with its peers and try to excel in at least one of these 3 core competencies: i) Operational excellence, ii) Product excellence, and iii) Customer experience excellence. The competition is so intense that only the most innovative company, in the group, achieves and maintains the top position from a business point of view. They have to fight harder and harder to deliver excellence - both consistently and continuously.
For this, companies go agile, differentiate and innovate in various aspects – including, ensuring of high quality. In this journey to deliver excellence, they have to adopt the revolutionary path.
Let us take for example, the smartphone business and see how this industry has transformed during the last 3 to 5 years. Companies that were famous for high quality mobile phone products (say, Nokia and Motorola) are no longer doing prominent business when compared to the new generation companies such as Apple and Samsung. Don't you think Apple and Samsung have done something revolutionary to bring in this change? I believe, they did!
Apple and Samsung, for instance, have adopted newer techniques and methodologies to deliver high quality innovative products. Novel and better products are pushed to market in shorter spans of time. Every new version of a smart phone comes out with newer and amazing features. These companies could rise from “almost no existence”, a few years back, to “Top 1 or 2” position in a short span of 3 to 5 years.
Now, let us look at the education services business and how it is transforming this industry. Top universities are going online, and through social media, to provide high quality educational services, and actively participating in MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses).
Many online courses are provided free-of-cost (Example: Coursera). They find newer innovative ways to provide high quality education to the customers (student community). They could best leverage the social media, high speed internet network and cloud services to deliver this high quality education. It has become important for these universities to expand and cater to the customers (students) located around the world. Don't you consider this a revolutionary change?
Stackoverflow.com is another innovative attempt to deliver high quality collaboration services - i.e., providing best answers to many great questions from a large set of people. Stackoverflow is a Q&A (Question and Answers) site that provides answers to questions, in a democratic way, on a plethora of topics asked by people across the world. This crowdsourcing effort focusses on continuous improvement of the quality of questions and answers. Users improve both questions and answers using the options provided - "Improve this question" or "Improve this answer". My experience has been very good in getting the right (good quality) answers to many of technical questions at Stackoverflow.com.
We all are running so fast in today's world and can observe that the world is moving faster and faster in all aspects. Thus, Quality also has to adjust its pace and take untraveled routes to achieve newer objectives and enable innovation - through the revolutionary path.