WHAT IS QUALITY?
Is functioning properly at 99 percent considered quality? Not necessarily, says Subir Chowdhury, a world authority in quality leadership, strategy and methods. Ninety-nine percent could still mean 5,000 incorrect surgeries or 100,000 automobile recalls.
“Quality is so important, so critical,” says Chowdhury, chairman and CEO of ASI Consulting Group LLC. “We need quality more than anything else.”
Hailed by The New York Times as a ‘leading quality expert’ and by Businessweek as ‘The Quality Prophet’, Chowdhury shared his wisdom with LMU students at a very special lecture presented by the Center for Asian Business. In his inspiring talk, he gave real-life examples from his experience working with global multinationals from all types of industries in East Asia, particularly in Korea. He also shared why quality should be each individual’s responsibility and why leading a quality life is critical to professional and personal success.
Chowdhury told a touching story from his childhood which taught him the importance of having a quality mindset. When he was around six years old, his grandfather would hold up money in one hand and a pen in the other and ask him “Which would you rather have?” Chowdhury would always reach for the money, but his grandfather told him to never go after the money. “Always go after the pen and the money will follow because the pen is constantly innovating.”
THREE KEY STEPS TO LEADING A QUALITY LIFE
Chowdhury presented three key steps to leading a quality life:
1. Listen: The best leaders are the best listeners. Don’t interrupt – observe and understand. It is absolutely essential to test a product in the target market. Listen to the voice of the customer and understand what their needs are. A customer has three needs: basic, performance and excitement needs. A cell phone can look really cool with lots of features, but if calls keep getting dropped then it’s worthless. “The U.S. is first at coming up with excitement needs but forgets the basic needs,” says Chowdhury. “If Americans can master basic needs, no other country can beat us.”
2. Enrich: Whatever you did yesterday, do one thing better today. If you practice this, you will be a much better leader. As humans, we can improve in so many different directions. Try to enrich other people’s lives. This is an example of practicing quality. If you want to truly make a difference, don’t fake it. Give 110 percent.
3. Optimize: “Unlike Asians, Americans believe perfection isn’t possible.” Subir says the ultimate goal is to make customers forget about quality altogether, because if a product is perfect, the issue of quality never comes up. There’s a misconception that improving quality costs a lot but that’s simply not true. Quality has to be built into the strategy of an organization’s culture. Incorporate quality in the early stages of launching a company and mix it into the design early on. Be passionate, embrace failures and be honest.
About Subir Chowdhury
Chowdhury has worked with many organizations including Chrysler, Procter & Gamble, Ford, Kia Motors, Hyundai and Samsung. He is the author of over a dozen books, including the international bestseller “The Power of Six Sigma” and “The Ice Cream Maker.”
Save the date for the next Center for Asian Business lecture on Wednesday, April 30, 2014at 7:15 p.m. in Hilton 100 featuring Kathleen Stephens, former United States Ambassador to South Korea.