A Total Approach to Total Quality


Every executive could learn some valuable lessons from Solectron, a company that won the Malcolm Baldrige Award. From my study of the Solectron Corporation, I conclude that in our efforts to improve quality, productivity, and profitability, we have to work holistically. We can't just do a quick-fix program to improve communication, for example, if we have misaligned systems. We can take people into the wilderness for two days and have them do free falls off mountains to learn trust, but if they come back to misaligned systems, all our improvement efforts are undone. We can reorganize, restructure, or reengineer the company or simply come up with a new compensation system or a new strategic plan but if we lack a foundation of trust, again our work is undone.

Solectron designed a total approach that deals with the entire package. Their high degree of employee empowerment allows them to move away from inspection toward prevention. They anticipate and prevent problems, so that quality is designed and built in from the beginning. They know that to compete and win in the international arena, they have to offer world-class products and services. And so at Solectron, quality management is not just a strategy, it is a new style of working and thinking. Their dedication to quality and excellence is more than good business; it's a way of life.

Solectron molded an extraordinarily diverse workforce into a model for global competitiveness. Their work force consists of people from cultures and countries all over the world. For many, English is a second language. This gives Solectron its greatest strength, diversity, ability to communicate and be flexible and look at things in new ways. Their people take ownership of the continuous-improvement process. They combine some of the best principles, practices, and processes from around the world. They are flexible and responsive. They take their cultural diversity and mold it into a new operating style.

And the lesson is clear: We see more success when we create an environment that empowers people to do their jobs and experience the satisfaction of accomplishment.

Read more to learn how Solectron won the Malcolm Baldrige Award.

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About the Author

Stephen R. Covey

Over his lifetime, Stephen inspired millions with the power of universal principles. As he traveled the globe many times over, his message was a simple one: for true success and meaning in life, we must be principle-centered in all areas of life. A teacher at heart, he often taught, "There are three constants in life: change, choice and principles." From the oval office, the board room, community halls and to the school house and family room, Stephen taught the mindset, skillset and toolset found in The 7 Habits of Highly effective people, his seminal work. His legacy is woven in The 7 habits, and, just as these habits are universal and timeless, so is Stephen R. Covey, who is admired around the world for his simple, yet powerful, universal, timeless teachings. Recognized as one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential Americans, Stephen R. Covey was one of the world’s foremost leadership authorities, organizational experts, and thought leaders.

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