On 22 May 2014 the main Dutch event in the field of quality management, the National Quality Conference, was again organised in Burgers' Zoo in Arnhem, The Netherlands. A day filled with opportunities, threats, innovations and challenges. For those who were not there: below a selection of the most interesting, inspiring and intriguing insights.
Teun Hardjono, professor of quality management, Director CSR Academy
The history of quality started with the quality of products. Then focus moved to the quality of processes. Currently we are focussing on organisational quality, where all aspects of the organisation are reviewed. But what is quality anyway? Quality is an aspect of an entity. And quality management is the way to achieve it. In other words: through quality you show who you are and what you stand for. Anyone wanting to have a go at quality management must start with the stakeholders, according to Hardjono. But beware: this is different from for instance quickly running a customer satisfaction survey. If change is what you want, be prepared to have an open dialogue, also showing your own vulnerabilities. And that inevitably leads to the core message: if you want to grow, you must want to change.
‘People do not really want to change'
Margriet Sitskoorn, professor of clinical neuropsychology, University of Tilburg, The Netherlands
The brain is flexible. What you focus on changes. For everything you do a lot and often you develop physical networks in your brain. Through repetition these networks become stronger. But the opposite effect is also true: networks that you do not use are eventually taken over by other cells. This is all the more reason to choose what you are going to 'repeat' carefully. It is harder than it looks, because our brain is naturally lazy. People do not really want to change, except in cases where it is perceived to be useful and/or necessary (survival, procreation). This is an important factor to be aware of in quality management, because here ‘change’ plays a very important role after all. It would be good if management training would pay more attention to the development of the prefrontal cortex, the area in the brain that focuses on meaning. By increasing the plasticity of the brain, change in the long run has a bigger chance of success. The reality however is that too little attention is paid to this issue.
Leo Kerklaan, associate partner Passionned Nederland BV, Director of Franeker Academy Management
Kerklaan alerts his audience to the tremendous influence of the environment on quality management, or 'the jungle in which we try to survive’. These days high pressures seem to be continuous and leave bitterly little time for reflection and meaning, resulting in minimal learning from our mistakes. What we do instead is follow the indicators, because they provide structure. This is logical but risky, as quality standards quickly become obsolete these days. The big challenge is to achieve cooperative system where the intrinsic motivation of employees is central point of attention. As an example Kerklaan mentions ‘The Toyota Way’, where continuous improvement is just as important as respect for people. At Toyota, every day every employee is asked the question: what can we do for the customer or the organisation, from which we will benefit tomorrow? Improvement as daily ritual, speaking about the power of repetition...
Mark Stoffels, General Manager, Philips Healthcare in Mexico
People who do not understand their own internal processes and blindly react to external stimuli, how well can they act as a leader? Not. Everything begins with self-knowledge, to lead from a personal mission and vision. With Stoffels the word ‘compassion’ is the focus, especially with difficult conversations. By understanding that everyone is working in his/her own way towards personal happiness, space for empathy is created, providing an opportunity for open communication. Stoffels stresses the importance of letting go of biases and assumptions as much as possible to make employees feel their input is important and for them to take responsibility. This way you are building a work culture that benefits both management and employees. This works the same around the world, including in Mexico. Thát is sustainable quality management...
Learn more about the Dutch National Quality Congress? All presentations are available online (in Dutch only).
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