Culture & Change: Setting the Foundations for Quality 4.0

Andre Mendes de Carvalho (Guest lecturer)

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


n the transition towards Industry 4.0, change becomes a key factor in assessing Quality and Organizational Excellence. In order to cope with this transition, organizations have focused on becoming more adaptable by investing in flexibility, reconfiguration, and optimization. The trouble with pursuing a more agile state, however, is the internal change process that it produces. While organizations are trying to adapt to an external business environment that is already ambiguous, change initiatives often add internal uncertainty. As a result, workers tend to develop resistance to change, and managers may see a trade-off between Quality and Adaptability.

This resistance happens most often when new strategies do not clearly connect with the existing Culture. Organizational Culture is the keystone that grounds all behaviors and provides meaning to the work practices. In times of change, it gains reinforced importance by helping to align new strategies with the mindset of an organization.

The challenges around organizational changes are not new, nor are they specific to this Digital era. Change has been the Achilles' heel of several well succeeded organizations, and it is reported that a large percentage of change initiatives fall short of their goals. However, the speed, intensity and variety of change that was brought by the transition towards Industry 4.0 has made it both unavoidable and urgent. Changing is key to survival. However, changing without guaranteeing high levels of performance is a recipe for disaster in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Understanding the need to balance adaptability and performance in times of change, we promoted a study to understand how to better tie Quality and Agility. In order to connect the two, emphasis was put in the concept of Organizational Culture. Many organizations have promoted efforts to create a “Culture of Quality”. But how can such culture help to maintain Quality in the long term, while at the same time allowing organizations to adapt to the changing marketplaces? Becoming more adaptable cannot mean loosening the commitment to Quality. At the same time, integrating Quality and Agility is not always immediate. But as we move towards the new manufacturing paradigm of Industry 4.0, there is an increasing need to include both performance and flexibility in the mindset of the workforce.

Despite contributing to similar organizational objectives, and even taking advantage of analogous methods, Quality and Agility have a relationship that also carries challenges - trade-offs that need to be addressed in order to allow the successful development of both concepts within a company. For organizations, this means being able to understand how to use Agility while ensuring long-lasting commitment to Quality and Excellence. It is thus essential to understand how can Quality and Agility be tied together, and how different aspect of the Culture of an organization play a critical role in their interaction.

With these objectives in mind, an in-depth field study was promoted with the goal of better understanding the relationship between Quality, Organizational Culture and Organizational Agility. Emphasis was put on organizations that have developed a “Culture of Quality”. Based on data from companies operating in highly technical and technological business sectors - where change is felt in a strong and impactful way - this session is to offer new insights on how to manage Quality initiatives in search for enduring success.

These insights come from 11 organizations in Europe and the US. Spending a period of about 6 weeks in each organization, we performed observations, conducted surveys, and held interviews with leaders, managers, and associates. As a result, several practical takeaways are to be shared on the organizational dynamics around these concepts. The audience will have the opportunity to learn how to help companies manage their commitment to Quality and develop their Organizational Culture having in mind the need to become more adaptable. They will also be able to understand how different strategies could impact performance, especially in different stages of the life of an organization; and have access to specific takeaways from industries such as software, pharma, or manufacturing.
Period30 Sep 2020
Event titleQuality 4.0 Summit 2020: American Society For Quality
Event typeConference