Taking The Necessary Steps Towards Quality

By: Carson Coffman

Our company has started down the road of pursuing the Missouri Quality Award. The basis for this program comes from the Baldrige National Quality Award program, named after Malcolm Baldrige, the Secretary of Commerce in Ronald Reagan’s administration. This program helps American companies improve and compete by defining best practices and establishing criteria for evaluating improvement efforts.

As a part of the process, four members of our staff, including myself, have become Examiners for the Missouri Quality Award program. As Examiners, we are now responsible for evaluating other organizations' applications to determine how they are performing as it relates to the criteria. This feedback will then be used by these organizations to continue to improve their performance. 
Our company has always been nimble, innovative and competitive. Because of our size and the giants that we go up against in the telecommunications arena, these attributes have served us well. But as an organization grows in excess of 100 employees, it becomes harder and harder to rely on good communications and good people to make sure everyone knows what this means to Socket and to our customers. This is why this program is so important to us. We are deep in to the Baldrige learning process and I would recommend this approach to any company.  
The few things that stand out the most to me so far:

  • Everything must have a process.  If it is important and you want it done right every time, then you have to define a process for everyone to follow.

  • Cycles of learning.  It isn’t enough to have a process, you also need to have a way to routinely evaluate the process and make improvements, or even decide if it needs to be done.

It’s not that our company doesn’t have just as good of employees as we did when we were half our size. In fact, I would say the opposite is true.  It’s about how our size now relates to communication between departments and staff on critical issues.  Everyone is no longer overhearing what is going on with the business, and we believe that by following these criteria we can take Socket to the next phase in our amazing ride.