Is Quality in the Eye of the Beholder?
We all have personal standards of quality, whether we apply them to the work we do, the purchases we make, the friends we keep, or — if we’re lucky — to the people we work with. People who are content tend to enjoy alignment between their personal standards and the quality of things by which they’re surrounded.
But what if that doesn’t happen? InfoComm has been rigorous in its development, instruction and certification of best-practice design and installation standards. There are thousands of people worldwide who have one or more CTS certification. This should mean there are thousands of people (or even tens thousands when you factor in non-CTS professionals who work daily with CTSes) who hold themselves to similar quality standards.
Yet I’ve found that in many of the audiovisual integration and technology management organizations I’ve consulted with, there are individuals who maintain high standards of quality and there are those who don’t. Part of this is because of the organization’s culture and values, which may actively or passively condone lower quality levels. Another reason is procedural barriers, whereby procedures written by one part of an organization sometimes hinder quality in another. Whatever the reason, what you end up with is lower morale throughout the organization and a breakdown of team cohesiveness into “those who do it right” and “those who don’t.”
So what do you do? You’re running an AV firm and you become aware that your standard of quality isn’t the same as one or more colleagues’. What now? There are many strategies, all of which have consequences.
- Lower your own personal standards to match the lowest common denominator, giving up pride and turning your profession into just a job.
- Clean up after others who are either unaware or untrained, or who don’t care enough to do their jobs to established the standards. Ultimately you may become a disgruntled martyr.
- Watch others do less than is required and experience the erosion of organizational value in the eyes of your customers.
- Encourage those around you to be aware of and trained in applicable processes and standards. Help them understand the value of these things and demonstrate the consequences (in wasted time and money, and loss of reputation) that come from not adhering to quality standards. This can be accomplished at both the personal and organizational level.
There may be other strategies you can follow. I know I’ve used each of the above at times in my career, based on expedience, friendship, time crunch, laziness, etc. (not something I’m proud of in all cases).
But maybe the best way to handle this thorny issue is to hear how other AV companies encourage a culture of quality throughout their organizations. And by all means, share your thoughts, too. If you’ll be at InfoComm 2013 this year (June 8-14 in Orlando, Fla.), please join InfoComm’s own Bill Thomas, CTS-I, at a Daybreak Session called Quality from the Bottom Up. Daybreak Sessions are scheduled early in the day so you can take in some education before the show floor opens. Bill’s session is Wed., June 12, and 7 a.m. It’s for AV employees and managers interested in “creating a workplace that recognizes and rewards quality workmanship.”
My guess is it will acknowledge #1-3, but encourage #4, as well as other peer-approved strategies. Have any you’d like to share below? How do you breed a culture of quality from top to bottom?