In an interview with Paul Borawski, the Vice President of Quality of Ford Motor Company, Bennie Fowler, we could discover some of the elements that are vital to ensure the survival of organizations and are valid for large corporations to small and medium organizations throughout the world.
The first question was about the basic ingredient that gives Ford its advantage, and the answer took us first to the decision and compromise to change and continuously improve, which should start in the management team, without this first element is impossible to start any process. Behavior must be consistent with the voice of the customer and make the quality alive in all levels of the organizations as a global and transversal strategy. It is necessary that the use of quality tools is deployed in the whole organization, learning to work together to seek solutions to problems, making periodic reviews of the system (Fowler indicated that Ford make monthly reviews) and other key ingredient is the trust among all team members. I think these are very valid lessons to take into account and look at opportunities for improvement.
The second question referred to what had been the evolution of quality within the company, and Fowler stated that quality is one of the pillars to build a world-class organization, and the key now is to make products that do not break, intrigue and exceed customer expectations with the products, incorporating technological advances and producing pleasant feelings in every client every time. It also indicated that in their concept of quality have been built safety feature, and is vital to take care of life seriously. Quality involves much more than just focuses on the product, is about considering the overall experience. Quality is the first requirement to enter any market. I think in Latin America we are taking steps in this direction but there is much to be done.
The third question was about the role of innovation and its link to quality. Fowler said innovation goes hand in hand with quality, new technology and new products motivate people to buy, and innovation defines the brands. Companies must learn to work with the technology and be aware that the world is more interconnected now. The link between quality and innovation is a disadvantage in Latin America, few companies have been working with them together, but this in turn presents many opportunities.
The last question was about the ingredients to create a culture of quality, this is the central ingredient, and quality must be put into the mind of each of the collaborators. To have a “big” company, you need a "big" quality. Quality has to be built in each of the actions of each of the members of the company; to create culture is vital to build leadership teams, which promotes training and learning all the time and everywhere. Each member of the organization should learn how processes work and each one has to be engaged in small and large projects to generate improvement, every leader has to have quality plans to improve quality and productivity and each person feels that he/she is the owner of his/her process. I think this ingredient is the first for quality, we must generate quality culture and for this purpose we need leaders of quality.
Many lessons to live and which leave us a long way to go...