Ubiquitous Quality Culture?

This BusinessWeek.com article (Even Toyota Isn't Perfect) caught my attention, not because I'm a Toyota owner (I own two!), but because it popped up in the Reforming Project Management blog that I scan from time to time. I agree with Hal that it's great to see another company treat a downtrend in quality as a crisis and take extreme action to correct it! Commitment to quality has to start at the top.

The quote from this BusinessWeek.com article that stood out to me is one that should be applied to every industry, not just cars: "More important is designing quality into cars in the first place. To give designers extra time to get things right, Toyota has tapped the brakes on the introduction of new models." Substitute [any other product] for [cars], including software, and [any other company] for [Toyota] and I think you'll agree as a consumer that you wish this were a truism.

I seem to recall other recent automotive recalls, and I'm hard-pressed to imagine those other unnamed companies feeling "obliged to bow deeply in apology" as the esteemed Mr. Watanabe did. I'd very much like to see this kind of personal quality ownership of products in every industry. I've been very happy to see lots of evidence of it here! It might seem counter-intuitive to be proud of a company for delaying release of a product, but it takes courage and confidence to do the right thing.

So, consider this perspective the next time your project manager or development team proposes a schedule slip... It's too late at that point for recriminations. Add your contribution to the culture of quality and support a schedule revision. It's probably the right thing to do.

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