As I walked into the lobby of our apartment complex, the elevator came down to the ground floor. A gentleman, who appeared to be in his early thirties, came out of the elevator, angrily pushed the inner sliding door shut, closed the outer door with a very loud bang and walked away. As I was about to protest, the elevator alarm started buzzing, indicating that one or both doors had not shut properly. Hearing the alarm, the gentleman walked back, opened the outer door, shut the inner door and the outer door firmly, but without any display of rage this time, and walked away.
I was a bit disturbed by this incident because, from the uniform worn by the gentleman, I realized he is a middle management executive in a renowned manufacturing company in our city. This company is considered one of the leaders in the quality movement in India. Needless to say, it has obtained every conceivable quality certification and has received various local, national and international awards for Quality Excellence. I thought the gentleman’s behaviour was certainly not expected from an employee of this company, especially one in the management cadre.
I remembered that, during his presentation at a seminar on Quality a few years ago, the President of this company had declared that every employee in his company had become 100 % quality-conscious. As a member of the audience, I had questioned the validity of this claim, contending that his company’s employees had achieved Quality Excellence because they used the appropriate manufacturing and inspection equipment, they had been properly trained to use this equipment, and the company had put in place various systems to ensure that quality was achieved at every stage in the manufacturing process. That did not mean that the employees had all become 100 % quality-conscious. They could be called 100 % quality-conscious only if their total commitment to quality could be seen in every action at the workplace as well as in their personal lives outside his company’s premises. He had insisted that a company could achieve quality excellence only if all, or almost all, employees were 100 % quality-consciousness, and that he was sure that almost every employee in his company had become 100 % quality-conscious at the work-place. He conceded that they might not be 100% quality-conscious in their personal lives, but expressed confidence that their quality-consciousness would have increased sharply in their personal lives as well. I was not convinced by his reply, but I realized there was no point in discussing the matter further.
I would love to send the company’s President a video recording of the elevator door banging incident, and ask him for his comments on his employee’s quality-consciousness!
As I had stated in my post Is fear the key?, very few of us are voluntarily law-abiding persons. Most of us refrain from committing crimes only due to the fear of punitive action. If we think we can get away without being penalised for it, we would gladly break the law. In the same way, the fact that a person complies with quality standards at the workplace does not necessarily mean that person is quality-conscious.
What do you think?