Auditing Quality into the Process

I grew up in Detroit Michigan, home of the American automotive industry.  In the 1980's, when Ford was scrambling to counter inroads into the U.S. market by Japanese rivals led by Toyota Motor Corp, the automaker rolled out the slogan that is today's quote: "Quality is Job 1."

I remember this philosophy driving our business as well.  I spent my summers working in high school mowing lawns, but in college I spent them in my families manufacturing plants where quality was the number 1 initiative.  All kinds of steps were taken to make sure quality was achieved.  I remember one quote in particular that stuck out as a great idea: "to guarantee quality, you must audit quality into the process."  It's a pretty easy concept.  If you want to something to repeat, make it into a process that all must follow.  If you want something to consistently produce quality, build quality-producing actions into that process.

I observed this first hand at Disney World, highly regarded for creating amazing experiences for their patrons.  From the start, it's been a hallmark of Disney to keep the parks clean for the guests. Jack Lindquist, a former Disney executive and legend, recalled a journalist telling Walt he believed that the park was beautiful that day—but would rapidly become dirty and scarred as the crowds continued to flow through. Walt disagreed vigorously. Said he, "We're going to make it so clean that people are going to be embarrassed to throw anything on the ground."  Disneyland has become renowned for being clean, friendly and fun. All cast members learn this at Disney Traditions, Disney's infamous employee orientation. The first rule is: "We create happiness," but the second is right behind it: "Everyone picks up trash." Of course, there are wonderful cast members assigned to emptying trash receptacles, handling sweeper pans and brooms, and carrying out specific maintenance duties, like changing out light bulbs. But no cast member, whether a Jungle Cruise skipper, or an executive vice president, should walk by a leftover napkin, a park map, or an empty water bottle, and not pick it up.

But beyond setting the tone with the employees, Disney does something else that makes keeping the place clean: they audited cleanliness into the experience of the guests.  In other words, they made it as easy as possible for guests to throw their trash away.  I remember a walk way between the Wilderness Lodge and the guest villas having a trash receptacle every 25 feet or so, discretely tucked on the side of the walk way and in a thematic-like container.  They were making it easy for me as a guest to produce cleanliness.  

At Crawford, we do the same thing.  We do our best to audit quality into the process.  We need to do everything we can to make quality operations a part of our every step.  This includes safety as well.  We need to continually be thinking through our processes and making sure they result in consistent quality and safety.  I remember a few years ago we were having a lot of accidents related to ladders in the maintenance division.  So we studied the use of ladders in maintenance and realized there was no uniform method for engaging a ladder to dump debris in the bed of the trucks.  And even more troubling, was that so many of the adopted methods being used were unsafe.  So we researched the best and most safe way to stage and use the ladder for delivering debris into the truck, and then we standardized it!  We audited safety into the debris dumping process.  Now, it just boils down to proper training and enforcement.  As a result, injuries resulting from loading debris into trucks is virtually non-existent.

Similar to continuous improvement, auditing quality into a process is free and delivers huge returns.  Pay attention to the ways things are done around here, and don't be shy to suggest areas we can standardize and audit quality and safety into our processes.

Have a great Monday everyone!