The World Economic Forum (WEF) has developed a Global Skills Taxonomy that provides a framework for aligning around a universal language for skills. It synthesizes and builds on existing taxonomies by integrating definitions and categorizations of skills that are of growing relevance in a fast-changing labor market 1
According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023, quality control is one of the top 10 core skills listed in the Global Skills Taxonomy. In the WEF taxonomy, Quality control refers to the process of verifying that a product or service meets specified standards or requirements. It appears to bundle both quality control and quality assurance into this definition.
Quality Control was not listed in the top 10 in the 2020 report. Throughout you find reference to a skill set called “Quality control and safety awareness”, so we can assume this is a refinement in the reporting. In any case, this is an interesting development that I wish the WEF’s material provided more detail on, especially as the 2021 Skills Taxonomy doesn’t include an entry for Quality Control.
You need to go to the Data Explorer for Quality Control to see valuable information. Including this nice chart on the 7 top countries emphasizing quality control.
What facinates me most here is how it is not developing countries, there are some economic power houses here.
The industry categories of importance are interesting. Some industries I consider strong on quality rank below the mean and ohers above the mean. Others, Information and technology services I am looking at you, rate well below the mean on importance and it explains a lot of what is wrong with the world.
It would be nice to see the taxonomic entry. I’m fascinated by this one on Problem-Solving, which contains the first 2 in the top 10.
Interesting read that creates a lot of questions for me. But France and Canada, feel free to hit me up since it seems you are skill building.
And to help the WEF out, here is a nice way to break down what Quality is all about.
Discussions about Industry 4.0 and Quality 4.0 often focus on technology. However, technology is just one of the challenges that Quality organizations face. Many trends are converging to create constant disruption for businesses, and the Quality unit must be ready for these changes. Rapid changes in technology, work, business models, customer expectations, and regulations present opportunities to improve quality management but also bring new risks.
The widespread use of digital technology has raised the expectations of stakeholders beyond what traditional quality management can offer. As the lines between companies, suppliers, and customers become less distinct, the scope of quality management must expand beyond the traditional value chain. New work practices, such as agile teams and remote work, are creating challenges for traditional quality management governance and implementation strategies. To remain relevant, Quality leaders must adapt to these changes..
Impact to Quality Management
How to Prepare
The increase in data sources and improved data processing has led to higher expectations from customers, regulators, business leaders, and employees. They expect companies to use data analytics to provide advanced insights and improve decision-making.
Requires a holistic approach that allows quality professionals to access, analyze and apply insights from structured and unstructured data
Quality excellence will be determined by how quickly data can be captured, analyzed, shared and applied
Develop a talent strategy to recruit, develop, rent or borrow individuals with data analytics capabilities, such as data science, coding and data visualization
To become more efficient and agile in a competitive market, companies will increasingly use technologies like RPA, AI, and ML. These technologies will automate or enhance tasks that were previously done by humans. In other words, if a task can be automated, it will be.
How to ensure these systems meet intended use and all requirements
Algorithm-error generated root causes
Develop a hyperautomation vision for quality management that highlights business outcomes and reflects the use cases of relevant digital technology
Perform a risk based assessment with appropriat experts to identify critical failure points in machine and algorithm decision making
Virtualization of Work
The shift to remote work due to COVID-19, combined with advancements in cloud computing and AR/VR technology, will make work increasingly digital.
Rethink how quality is executed and governed in a digital environment.
Evaluate current quality processes for flexibility and compatibility with virtual work and create an action plan.
Uncover barriers to driving a culture of quality in a virtual working environment and incorporate virtual work-relevant objectives, metrics and activities into your strategy.
Shift to Resilient Operations
Prioritizing capabilities that improve resilience and agility.
Adapt in real-time to changing and simultaneously varying levels of risk without sacrificing the core purpose of Quality
Enable employees to make faster decisions without sacrificing quality by developing training to build quality-informed judgment and embedding quality guidance in employee workflows.
Identify quality processes that may prevent operational resilience and reinvent them by starting from scratch, ruthlessly challenging the necessity of every step and requirement.
Ensure employees and new hires have the right skill sets to design, build and operate a responsive network environment.
Rise of Inter-connected Ecosystems
The growth of interconnected networks of people, businesses, and devices allows companies to create value by expanding their systems to include customers, suppliers, partners, and other organizations.
Greater connectivity between customers, suppliers, and partners provides more visibility into the value chain. However, it also increases risk because it can be difficult to understand and manage different views of quality within the ecosystem.
Map out the entire quality management ecosystem model and its participants, as well as their interactions with customers.
Co-develop critical-to-quality behaviors with strategic partners.
Strengthen relationships with partners across the ecosystem to capture and leverage relevant information and data, while at the same time addressing data privacy concerns.
Digitally Native Workforce
Shift from digital immigrants (my generation and older) to digital natives who are those people who have grown up and are comfortable with computers and the internet. Unlike other generations, digital natives are so used to using technology in all areas of their lives that it is (and always has been) an integral, necessary part of their day-to-day.
Increased flexibility leads to a need to rethink the way we monitor, train, and incentivize quality.
Connecting the 4 Ps: People, Processes, Policies and Platforms
Identify and target existing quality processes to digitize to offer desired flexibility.
Adjust messages about the importance of quality to connect with values employees care about (e.g., autonomy, innovation, social issues).
Customer Expectation Multiplicity
Customer expectations evolve quickly and expand into new-in-kind areas as access to information and global connectedness increases.
Develop product portfolios, internal processes and company cultures that can quickly adapt to rapidly changing customer expectations for quality.
Identify where hyperautomation and predictive capabilities of quality management can enhance customer experience and prevent issues before they occur.
Increasing Regulatory Complexity
The global regulatory landscape is becoming more complex as countries introduce new regulations at different rates. Increased push for localization.
Need strong system to efficiently implement changes across different systems, locations, and regions while maintaining consistent quality management throughout the ecosystem.
Coordinate a structured regulatory tracking approach to monitor changing regulatory developments — highly regulated industries require a more comprehensive approach compared to organizations in a moderate regulatory environment
Challenges to Quality Management
The traditional Value Proposition of quality management is no longer sufficient to meet the expectations of stakeholders. With the rise of a digitally native workforce, there are new expectations for how work is done and managed. Business leaders expect quality leaders to have full command of operational data, diagnosing and anticipating quality problems. Regulators also expect high data transparency and traceability.
The value proposition of quality management lies in predicting problems rather than reacting to them. The primary objective of quality management should be to find hidden value by addressing the root causes of quality issues before they manifest. Quality organizations who can anticipate and prevent operational problems will meet or exceed stakeholder expectations.
Our organizations are on a journey towards utilizing predictive capabilities to unlock value, rather than one that retroactively solves problems. Our scope needs to be based on quality being predictive, connected, flexible, and embedded. For me this is the heart of Qualty 4.0.
Quality management should be applied across a multitude of systems, devices, products, and partners to create a seamless experience. This entails transforming quality from a function into an interdisciplinary, participatory process. The expanded scope will reach new risks in an increasingly complex ecosystem. The Quality unit cannot do this on its own; it’s all about breaking down silos and building autonomy within the organization.
To achieve this transformation, we need to challenge ourselves to move beyond top-down and regimented Governance Models and Implementation Strategies. We need to balance our core quality processes and workflows to achieve repeatability and consistency while continually adjusting as situations evolve. We need to build autonomy, critical thinking, and risk-based thinking into our organizational structures.
One way to achieve this is by empowering end-users to solve their own quality challenges through participatory quality management. This encourages personal buy-in and enables quality governance to adapt in real-time to different ways of working. By involving end-users in the process of identifying and solving quality issues, we can build a culture of continuous improvement and foster a sense of ownership over the quality of our products and services.
The future of quality management lies in being predictive, connected, flexible, and embedded.
Predictive: The value proposition of quality management needs to be predicting problems over problem-solving.
Connected: The scope of quality management needs to extend beyond the value chain and connect across the ecosystem
Flexible: The governance model needs to be based on an open-source model, rather than top-down.
Embedded: The implementation strategy needs to shift from viewing quality as a role to quality as a skill.
By embracing these principles and involving all stakeholders in the process of continuous improvement, we can unlock hidden value and exceed stakeholder expectations.
Deaing with these challenges and implications requires the Quality organization to treat transformation like a Program. This program should have four main initiative areas:
Build the capacity for targeted prevention through targeted data insights. This includes building alliances with IT and other teams to have the right data available in flexible ways but it also includes the building of capacity to actually use the data.
Expand quality management to cover the entire value network.
Localize Risk Management to Make Quality Governance Flexible and Open Source.
Distribute Tasks and Knowledge to Embed Quality Management in the Business.
Across these pillars the program approach will:
Assess the current state: Identify areas requiring attention and improvement by examining existing People, Processes, Policies and Platforms. This comprehensive assessment will provide a clear understanding of the organization’s current situation and help pinpoint areas where projects can have the most significant impact
Establish clear objectives: Establish clear objectives to h provide a clear roadmap for success.
Prioritize foundational elements: Prioritize building foundational elements. Avoid bells-and-whistles for their own sake.
Develop a phased approach: This is not an overnight process. Develop a phased approach that allows for gradual implementation, with clear milestones and measurable outcomes. This ensures that the organization can adapt and adjust as needed while maintaining ongoing operations and minimizing disruptions.
Collaborate with stakeholders: Engage stakeholders from across the organization,to ensure alignment and buy-in. Create a shared vision for the initiative to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals. Regular communication and collaboration among stakeholders will foster a sense of ownership and commitment to the transformation process.
Continuously monitor progress: Regularly review the progress, measuring outcomes against predefined objectives. This enables organizations to identify any potential issues or roadblocks and make adjustments as necessary to stay on track. Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) will help track progress and determine the effectiveness of the Program.
Embrace a culture of innovation: Encourage a culture that embraces innovation and continuous improvement. This helps ensure that the organization remains agile and adaptive, making it better equipped to take advantage of new technologies and approaches as they emerge. Fostering a culture of innovation will empower employees to seek out new ideas and solutions, driving long-term success.
Invest in employee training and development: It is crucial to provide employees with the necessary training and development opportunities to adapt to new technologies and processes. This will ensure that employees are well-equipped to handle the changes brought about by these challenges and contribute to the organization’s overall success.
Evaluate and iterate: As the Program unfolds, it is essential to evaluate the results of each phase and make adjustments as needed. This iterative approach allows organizations to learn from their experiences and continuously improve their efforts, ultimately leading to greater success.
Luis Charles Chavarría recently posted about watches and quality. Reading that, and several of the responses remind how pharmaceutical quality is often just framed in terms of regulatory adherence instead of a broader approach. ISO9001 and other major quality models basically break down to having 8 dimensions of quality.
In a lot of industries, it is very visible to the customer whether quality exists. Shoes, cars, toaster ovens – I can gauge them based on multiple of the criteria above before I buy. I can go on credible review sites, use tools like Consumer Reports, get reliable feedback from others. When a friend recommends a couch, I can trust their opinions.
We have none of that in the regulated areas of pharma and much of medical devices. Patients are prescribed product, and even when there are multiple generics available the only real criteria is price. Chances are the patient barely knows the manufacturer, let alone the manufacturing site. It can be very difficult for a patient, or even doctor, to gauge the quality of the product.
It is for this reason we need more transparency throughout the supply chain, through the development of products. The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) report is a start and needs to be implemented quickly. As a beginning it can really help start to shift the needle and make large parts of this industry more receptive to
The Quality profession either stays true to its’ principles and ideals, or it is useless. We either support transparency and driving out fear or we don’t. Then we become the shallow, and dangerous crutch of demagogues and tyrants. One of the reasons Six Sigma has immense problems it still has not successfully grappled stems from how it is centered on the tyranny of Jack Welch.
The ASQ’s Government Division has taken a great step recently by endorsing the adoption of ISO/TS 54001:2019 “Quality management systems — Particular requirements for the application of ISO 9001:2015 for electoral organizations at all levels of government”.
We should be demanding elections built on the foundations of good quality. This should be part of electoral reform requirements at the Federal level. We need to oppose attempts to restrict voting. We need to drive fear out of our electoral system.
The United States is a signatory of international standards of policing. And yet no state follows those standards. Federal law needs to respect our treaty obligations and impose these standards, and we need to hold states and localities accountable.
As a quality professional I spend the day figuring out how to truthfully measure results. Yet an entire party has gleefully adopted lies and disinformation. I strive to democratize leadership, to build a culture of psychological safety. And yet all around us we see demagoguery.
Our workplace cultures are influenced greatly by external factors. We cannot hope to drive lies and fraud out of our systems, to create cultures of safety, to build excellence when all around us is a disregard for those standards. For this reason the quality profession must be political. It must standard for truth, for fair standards applied equitably. For driving out fear.
Having recently said farewell to a leader in our quality organization, I have been reflecting on quality leaders and what makes one great. As I often do, I look to standards, in this case the American Society of Quality (ASQ).
The Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence (CMQ/OE)leads and champions process improvement initiatives—that can have regional or global focus—in various service and industrial settings. A CMQ/OE facilitates and leads team efforts to establish and monitor customer/supplier relations,supports strategic planning and deployment initiatives, and helps develop measurement systems to determine organizational improvement.
The ASQ’s Certified Manager of Quality/Operation Excellence (CMQ/OE) body of knowledge‘s first section is on leadership.
To be honest, the current body of knowledge (bok) is a hodge-podge collection of stuff that is sort of related but often misses a real thematic underpinning. The bok (and the exam) could use a healthy dose of structure when laying out the principles of roles and responsibilities, change management, leadership techniques and empowerment.
There are fundamental skills to being a leader:
Shape a vision that is exciting and challenging for your team (or division/unit/organization).
Translate that vision into a clear strategy about what actions to take, and what not to do.
Recruit, develop, and reward a team of great people to carry out the strategy.
Focus on measurable results.
Foster innovation and learning to sustain your team (or organization) and grow new leaders.
Lead yourself — know yourself, improve yourself, and manage the appropriate balance in your own life.
In order to do these things a leader needs to demonstrate skills in communication, critical thinking, problem solving, and skills motivating and leading teams (and self).
The best leaders know a lot about the domain in which they are leading, and part of what makes them successful in a management role is technical competence. A Quality leader needs to know quality as a domain AND the domain of the industry they are within.
In my industry it is just not enough to know quality (for now we’ll define that as the ASQ BoK) nor is it enough to know pharmaceuticals (with regulatory being a subdomain). It is not enough just to have leadership skills. It is critical to be able to operate in all three areas.
To excel as a leader in practice, you also need a lot of expertise in a particular domain.
As an example, take the skill of thinking critically in order to find the essence of a situation. To do that well, you must have specific, technical expertise. The critical information an engineer needs to design a purification system is different from the knowledge used to understand drug safety, and both of those differ in important ways from what is needed to negotiate a good business deal.
When you begin to look at any of the core skills that leaders have, it quickly becomes clear that domain-specific expertise is bound up in all of them. And the domains of expertise required may also be fairly specific. Even business is not really a single domain. Leadership in pharmaceuticals, transportation, and internet (for example) all require a lot of specific knowledge.
Similarly, with only leadership and technical, you are going to fumble. Quality brings a set of practices necessary for success. A domain filled with analytical and decision making capabilities that cross-over with leadership (critical thinking and problem-solving) but are deepened with that perspective.
There are also other smaller domains, or flavors of domains. If I was building this model out more seriously I would have an interesting cluster of Health and Safety with Quality (the wider bucket of compliance even). I’m simplifying for this post.
To go a step further. These three domains are critical for any quality professional. What changes is the development of wisdom and the widening of scope. This is why tenure is important. People need to be able to settle down and develop the skills they need to be successful in all three domains.
Good quality leaders recognize all this and look to build their organizations to reflect the growth of technical, quality and leadership domain.