Thought Leadership


Quality is being driven by the risks of transparency; safety is not

March 7, 2012
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There is a renewed interest in management systems on metrics.

This interest seems to be driven by two organizational concerns – transparency and risk. In particular, it appears to be driven by the risks associated with transparency.

I attended the ISO 9000 Conference earlier this week.

One of the keynote speakers – Bennie Fowler from Ford Motor Company – discussed how Ford has refocused on its core principles in order to achieve a financial turn-around.  This includes a re-emphasis on the principle – “Quality is Job #1.”  At Ford, quality is now an integral part of executive strategy discussions.

One of the main drivers for this renewed emphasis on quality is transparency.

Due to the “open communication” nature of the intranet, companies can no longer hide their quality problems.

Today, delivering a quality product every time is key to survival. If a company does not, its quality issues are likely to be reported on the intranet for all to see.

Other speakers discussed the on-going shift in focus from product quality to organizational quality.  According to surveys, consumers often buy products because of their perception of the company rather than because of any objective evaluation of the quality of a particular product.
This means that organizational risks become marketing risks.

This customer focus on organizational quality is one of the drivers in the increase in corporate sustainability reporting.  Customers are interested in whether a company is a good corporate citizen.  They want to make sure their brand loyalty is justified.

These sustainability reports often include an occupational safety and health component.  This usually consists of “some numbers” associated with injury rates.

But are these numbers true?

If the studies that have been conducted on the accuracy of injury reporting are to be believed, maybe not. (Click here to go to a previous blog post about injury and illness reporting issues.)

Why?

There is no global standardization, no accountability (as in a third-party review of the data or processes used to develop the data) and definitely no transparency for injury and illness metrics.   There is no easy way to check the numbers being reported, nor is the information available to do so.  Right now, we simply have to take the company’s word for it that these “metrics” are accurate.

Quality is being driven by the risks of transparency; safety is not.

© ENLAR Compliance Services, Inc. (2012)

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