Successful entrepreneurs have a knack for walking the fine line between no-win risks versus strategic risks that lead to victory despite any missteps along the way. Whether you’re thinking about starting a business or you’re in deep, integrating the science of quality management into both your personal and company goals offers tremendous value.
Quality management is a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) discipline that includes concepts and methodologies proven to result in customer satisfaction. The science gained major attention from Japanese political and manufacturing leaders determined to rebuild following World War II. They applied it to their manufacturing industry with intense commitment and ultimately emerged as a new global economic leader, revolutionizing the global economy by the 1980s. Over the last 100 years, the science has evolved in amazing ways, and it continues to have far-reaching applications. One of those is entrepreneurship. Here are three things you need to know about this powerful science:
1. It’s about gaining up-front clarity that leads to downstream success
The quality of a product or service is directly related to its ability to satisfy the intended customer. Your career and your company, as they stand today, are products you are building to gain personal five-star quality as defined by your satisfaction. As an entrepreneur, you can define quality on your own terms. That’s one of the reasons people walk away from the crowd to create the products, services and company they envision. We are driven to manufacture what we envision. The science of quality management tells us that envisioning a future product, whether it’s an on-the-shelf product, a service, or the company you intend to build, requires up-front specifications. Those features must be based on what the intended customer wants or needs, and in this case, that’s you.
Companies spend millions to understand customer needs and wants. Take the time to understand your own before you build. The company you are building should ultimately meet your personal expectations. So much of what we read asks: What kind of leader do you want to be? Instead, ask yourself: What kind of company do you want to lead? How do you wish to spend your time every day? What type of work environment do you want?
2. It provides the mindset and methodology proven to result in the outcome you envision
As an entrepreneur, you are in a powerfully unique position; you are not only the customer but also the manufacturer of the company you aim to build. As the manufacturer, you are 100% responsible for your product. Industries that fully embrace the science of quality management know that working within the boundaries of their system is the proven route to success. Personal power grows with your understanding and acceptance of the natural boundaries of your personal system. Every company, and every individual, has a system. Systems do not require permission to exist. They can be fantastic, or terribly flawed. An out-of-control system often feels like no system.
The key is to understand the borders of your existing system, and then transform that system into one focused on managing quality (i.e., a quality management system). When you understand how to define and work within your personal system, you can strategize, manage risk and make decisions within a framework that ensures results. Building a business becomes an exercise focused on creativity and good decision-making, rather than controlling elements, processes, people and decisions that fall beyond your scope of control and/or the ability to manage or mitigate risk.
3. It supports successful decision-making at every step
Five-star quality (i.e., customer satisfaction) results from a controlled system designed to produce a clearly defined product. The ability of a company or an individual to create and control a system boils down to decision-making, whether it’s during the design or manufacturing phase. The science of quality management provides a commonsense philosophy, mindset and approach that supports excellent decision-making. These include risk management, root cause analysis, and focus on the difference between the objective and subjective information involved when making decisions.
Governments around the world require highly regulated industries to apply the science of quality management to ensure product quality and safety. Airplanes and medications aren’t manufactured until specifications are established and everyone involved understands the processes. Yet still, the science accounts for things going wrong, as they invariably do. We know this, because every aspect of a process cannot be controlled. There are always contributing factors. The key is to anticipate and prepare for them based on risk analysis.
This approach can also be applied to building a company. When unexpected challenges arise, you can rely on a science-based approach for making decisions that will keep you on track. The science of quality management has a long, successful history of producing customer satisfaction. When you realize that the company you are building is ultimately a product that you hold the power to manufacture based on your authentic definition of five-star quality, nothing can stop you.