ASQ Influential Voices Contribution: Making a Quality/C-Suite Connection

In the May 9 View from the Q blog post, guest blogger Julia McIntosh of ASQ’s Communication Department broke protocol by challenging ASQ Influential Voices contributors to blog about one of several quality-related themes presented by keynote speakers at this year’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement (WCQI) conference held in Indianapolis earlier this month.   One of these topics titled “Quality/C-Suite Connection” had to do with how we, as quality professionals, can build a bridge to the “C-Suite” or board room. How can we bridge this gap and help executives in our organizations understand and value Quality? Keynote speaker and author, Karen Martin, spoke about this disconnect and suggests quality professionals need to become a “coach, teacher, and mentor” in their organizations in order to bridge this gap.

 Do I agree?

Absolutely, I agree!  In my November 2012 blog post titled: Don’t Wait for an Invite! I wrote about how the organization’s top quality professional should be engaged with top management at the highest level in his/her organization.  Whether you call it the board room, C-Suite, corporate headquarters, or the CEO’s office, it’s all the same. Quality professionals need to find a way to effectively engage and communicate with top management. Becoming a coach, teacher, and mentor, as Martin suggests, is an effective way for quality professionals to engage with top management. I believe true quality professionals should take this approach to their work; it should be their default mode of operation. 

Another important consideration for quality professionals when engaging with the C-Suite is “when and where” we engage.  In my November 2012 blog post I indicated quality professionals should earn a seat at the table where strategic and run-the-business decisions are made. Martin would agree this table is found in the C-Suite. My contention is that these gaps, should they exist, can most easily be bridged by the quality professional.  Here the quality professional can coach, teach, and mentor organizational leaders on concepts such as strategic planning used to develop quality and other business objectives, strategy deployment to cascade those objectives throughout the organization, and management review and balanced scorecards for monitoring and measuring performance.  Once we have down “how we engage” (coach, teach, and mentor) we must pick and choose “when and where” that engagement is most needed.  Choose wisely!

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