Monday, April 25, 2011

Usage of Quality Tools in Education

This indeed is a very interesting and important topic to discuss - Whether educational institutions (or organizations) use quality tools to improve education?  Quality tools can be anything, such as Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA), Kaizen (Continuous improvement), Certifications (ISO, CMMi etc) or Total Quality Management (TQM). 

It is amazing to find that many institutions (an example) across the world are  either ISO 9001:2008 certified or comply to this standard. An interesting article details the effectiveness of ISO 9001:2008 in educational institutions of Nepal.  Here, two ISO 9001:2008 certified educational organizations were selected for the study.  Majority of the respondents believed that the ISO certification strengthen educational organization's quality management system.

Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) writes, in an article, about a silent transformation that is happening in Indian schools. To achieve quality in education, CII looked at ingraining strategies like goal setting, process mapping, vision, mission, value statements formulation, encouraged safer and cleaner campus through 5S, propagated Quality Circles at teachers and students level, imbibed seven steps of problem solving, integrated 7 QC tools for academic and administrative processes, utilized color code for visual controls, stressed on understanding the stakeholders needs and expectations.

Implementation of Total Quality Management (TQM) in education has been widely discussed in various books, articles and journal papers.  This book talks, in good detail, discusses about implementation of TQM in educational institutions.  Innovative tools such as classroom teaching competence scale (CTCS), Principal's questionnaire have been detailed.

I believe that quality tools will prove very useful in improving and maintaining quality in education.  To build a healthy society, the products that come out of schools and colleges should be of high quality.  So, it is essential to practice quality assurance rather than quality control in education. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Focus to Improve Quality of Disaster Alert and Communication Mechanisms

Disasters are unexpected damaging outcomes.  It is essential that there are mechanisms that can alert about a possible disaster well before it happens.   Most times, the human community fails to receive advance alerts and this results in a major catastrophe. Tsunamis that hit various parts of the world in year 2004 and 2011 are such examples.  If we had an effective alert and communication mechanism, the risk could have been mitigated, to a good extent, and the damage controlled.

The lessons learned from the past calamities such as tsunamis, earthquakes, terror attacks should be well studied, researched and acted up on.  These studies should result in coming up with quality preventive and control mechanisms to address any future calamities.  I suggest that we, quality practitioners, must focus on improving the quality of products and services that can improve catastrophe predictions and related alert mechanisms.  These predictions should be effective and can be quickly communicated through various channels to various parts of the world. 

Various valiant efforts are in progress, few examples are, (i) the NASA tsunami prediction system , and, (ii) the project to predict earthquakes .

Monday, April 4, 2011

Social Responsibility: An attribute of Quality

rightly quoted about the Tata group  and their dedication towards social responsibility (SR).  Being a Tata group employee (of Tata Consultancy Services) I acknowledge the same.   Tata group companies compete every year for the JRD QV business excellence award that is based on the TBEM (Tata Business Excellence Model) framework. One of the core values defined in the TBEM framework is social responsibility. Please note that TBEM is modeled from the Malcolm Baldrige award framework. 

Quality, in simple terms, can be defined as meeting the stated and the implied needs of the customer.  Customers can be internal and external, direct and indirect.    Considering SR as an attribute of quality, it should be met, from any customer perspective at the least as implied needs.  For example, let us take the case of a product, say, polycarbonate eyeglasses.  Typical stated and implied needs to be met for polycarbonate eyeglasses are  lightweight, shatter resistance and scratch resistance.  The beauty of SR compliance, in this case,  is (1) to ensure that the (chemical) hazards of polycarbonate are taken care both from a product and environment perspective, and,  (2)  to educate the (customer) community to properly recycle the glasses after use.

Yes, SR is beyond charity.  Its dimension is big enough that meeting the SR requirements one hundred percent will be a  challenge.  I believe that companies and the quality practitioners across the world should work on models to measure social responsibility as a quality attribute.

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