What Does Company Culture Have to Do with Quality?

A lot. Whether you’re aware of it or not, your company culture determines in large part whether your processes yield high-quality goods and services.

So, what is “company culture“?

Some think company culture, or organizational culture, consists of the shared values and practices of a company’s employees. Well, just how are those values and practices shared? Is it through a set of controlled processes — processes that are designed for continual improvement?

Unfortunately, the answer in most cases is “no”. In many cases, company culture happens. It is allowed to evolve, but without a plan and with no particular sense of direction or goals. Culture is passed on from one worker, one generation to the next, by oral tradition. Sure, you have policies and procedures, but does anyone ever read them? Or maintain them?

Where’s the consistency? The quality control?

Tradition! Tradition! Tradition!
(Fiddler on the Roof,  1971)

Company culture, as it exists in too many businesses, runs contrary to the basic concepts of quality — no strategy, no plans, no objectives. Culture is an accident. Happy or tragic, but an accident, nonetheless. Company culture is not conducive to change or to quality in these cases. Company culture is “the way we’ve always done things, sort of.”

What's your company culture? (EPA.gov)

Company culture can greatly help — or seriously hinder — an organization’s drive for quality and continual improvement.

What about your company culture? Have you ever given much thought to how your culture influences outcomes? Do you welcome challenges? Are you forward-thinking or are you satisfied with the status quo? Do you encourage or discourage innovation and change?

How does this attitude affect everyone in your organization? Let me know.

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Posted in Change management, Leadership

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