Ashwin Srinivasan, managing director, and Bryan Kurey, senior director at CEB, share the results of a study on quality and working with a bias towards it in Harvard Business Review:
For two years CEB has conducted research exploring how companies can create a culture in which employees “live” quality in all their actions—where they are passionate about quality as a personal value rather than simply obeying an edict from on high. We define a “true culture of quality” as an environment in which employees not only follow quality guidelines but also consistently see others taking quality-focused actions, hear others talking about quality, and feel quality all around them.
We interviewed the quality function leaders at more than 60 multinational corporations, conducted an extensive review of academic and practitioner research, and surveyed more than 850 employees in a range of functions and industries and at all levels of seniority. Some of what we learned surprised us. Most notably, many of the traditional strategies used to increase quality—monetary incentives, training, and sharing of best practices, for instance—have little effect. Instead, we found, companies that take a grassroots, peer-driven approach develop a culture of quality, resulting in employees who make fewer mistakes—and the companies spend far less time and money correcting mistakes.