Quality with GE

Essay by aswitha June 2006

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What does "quality" mean for a global manufacturer such as GE?

How do businesses work? What is the role of the quality profession in business? These questions have probably challenged many of us in different ways throughout our working lives. Unlike most other professions, those of us with 'quality' in our job titles have changed direction and scope many different times. In the second part of his article, David Straker describes a simple model of the way that businesses work and the changing role of the quality professional.

Understanding our external business environment, internal capabilities and desires leads to changes that enable us to sustain and grow our businesses (see figure 1). This system is discussed in further detail below, along with consideration of its impact on the quality profession.

Figure 1 Understanding our business environment


The first stage of any business is understanding, including understanding what is needed and how to satisfy these needs.

A sound understanding will lead to sound decisions, whereas decisions based on assumptions and guesswork will lead to surprises and fire-fighting, which is not a winning strategy

Understanding needs (and attendant expectations) is about all the players in the game. It means knowing who they are, what value they bring, and what they want to take out of the pot in return for continued patronage. Stakeholder needs are met by a complex system involving many other stakeholders. The classic measure of manufacturing capability, so we must understand the entire delivery engine.

Understanding includes present and future needs and capabilities, with a consideration of external forces, such as competition and legislation. Imagination, based on knowledge, is an important factor here: when customers change their goals and competitors change strategy, we still want to stay ahead of the game.

Real-world understanding includes awareness of the...