Why CMM, ISO and other Quality initiatives don’t capture the hearts and minds….

Stumbled upon Karl Albrecht’s book “The only thing that matters” and came across this paragraph that resonated with me:

Many organizations fail in their quest for Total Quality Service, not because their leaders don’t understand the conceptual or technical requirements for achieving it, but because they don’t realize that the heart of the service journey is spiritual rather than mechanical. They will bureaucratize the whole thing and make it look like every other “program.”

Too many quality initiatives are sterile, intellectual and administrative from start to finish; they don’t appeal to the human heart. They are based on a view of the organization as an apparatus rather than a society. They don’t start with human energy as the focus of change.

Spirit is the invisible force that moves organization and people. Spirit in an organization reflects the core values, attitudes and beliefs that shape the way people see themselves, their customers, and the business world, and cause them to behave the way they do.

Mired in their history and habits, many organizations do not have a spirit of service. They have instead a rational spirit, a technological spirit, a financial spirit, a manufacturing spirit, or some other dominant orientation that creates and defines the company’s culture – those things deemed to be important and “the way we do things around here”.

The journey to Total Quality Service is as much an individual and personal one as an organizational one. If the people don’t want to go there, the organization won’t go there; ultimately they are the organization. The spirit of service must come alive, grow, and flourish if the organization is to leap beyond the bounds of mediocrity.


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