Avoiding Program-Of-The-Week Syndrome

Every company, these days, seems to have their own version of a quality management program in the works. Whether it's TQM, CI, Synergy, Exellence or a myriad other catch phrases, each of these programs impart a certain atmosphere on a company. The bottom line is usually, "let's straighten up, work together and focus on quality and the customer." While these are all indeed noble causes, companies must ensure that the messages are understood and practiced by all employees. The more executives introduce let's-save-the-company programs and let them die, the more likely employees are to say, "Well, this program is just like all the others. If we wait long enough, it will die and things can get back to normal around here." This inevitably leads to employee belief that company executives don't know what they are doing and are just filling time until they can retire and collect their six digit pensions. In many cases, executives don't know what they are doing. Senior executives are responsible for driving company atmosphere and culture. If top managers wish to initiate programs designed to alter corporate culture, they cannot simply issue a statement of intent and pass the buck to underlings who are expected to get the job done.

What am I telling you that any first year business student shouldn't know? Nothing. The simple fact is, that any reasonably intelligent manager should understand these ideas. Why then, does it still happen so many times? (Don't believe me? Try and count how many quality programs were started in the last year, two years, five years, by your organization and still survive today. Remember, a program such as CI should remain in place for the life of the organization!) This program-of-the-week mentality is rampant throughout U.S. industry. The solution? In the words of Tom Peters and Nike, just DO IT. When a program is initiated, you must refuse to let it die. Make a note to yourself to everyday do something to further the program. If just one day passes without everyone realizing that things are changing, that's one day that people will revert to the old way of doing things. That's one step backwards your organization makes while the competition makes one step forward.Paragraph End Symbol

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