Having quality issues in your business? Before you start looking for external help, start looking within. “The Difference” is an incredibly accessible guide to the set of principles and factors that lie between “business like everyone else” mediocrity and “outpacing everyone in their industry” quality and performance in every single part of your business.
The Difference: When Good Enough Isn’t Enough is about quality but it doesn’t feature many of the terms you would expect in a book on the subject. You won’t find a discussion on Six Sigma strategies, Lean manufacturing or how to add more items to your kanban board. What you will find is a discussion of one topic author Subir Chowdhury (aka “The Quality Prophet”) believes is crucial to every step of the quality process, the right mindset.
“Improving quality is not a slogan …”
– The Difference: When Good Enough Isn’t Enough
What is The Difference About?
Chowdhury, an aeronautical engineer and quality consultant who has helped companies save billions, came to this “quality is a mindset” realization after he was trying to help two businesses in the same industry deal with a similar problem. He applied the same procedures to both businesses but only one business thrived. Chowdhury came to realize that there was more to success than following a checklist and procedures like Six Sigma. The business that was thriving had a different culture. This business had a culture that embodied what Chowdhury repeatedly calls in the book, a “caring mindset”.
A “caring mindset” is one that understands the technical aspects of the job and the consequences that come along with it. A frontline salesperson who realizes that the cleanliness of a store affects the company’s profitability (and by extension, his or her own job), will be sure to clean the store. A city engineer who realizes decisions he or she makes affect thousands of lives will be more careful when making them.
In The Difference, Chowdhury introduces four sets of principles using the acronym S.T.A.R. to help businesses integrate and maintain that “caring mindset” into their culture at the individual and group level. Using these principles, his book argues, is the key to helping business improve their compliance on quality-related issues into quality excellence. The S.T.A.R. principles, centered around transparency and accountability, force individual workers to own their part in the company’s overall function. When a business’ culture makes this tiny mental shift from “business as usual” into the transparency and accountability advocated by the book’s S.T.A.R. principles, they should reach a higher level of organizational performance than they ever thought possible.
Author Subir Chowdhury, crowned the “The Quality Prophet” by BusinessWeek, is chairman and CEO of ASI Consulting LLC, a global consulting firm for strategy, training, and quality consulting. Chowdhury grew up in Bangladesh, trained as an aeronautical engineer in India, and then came to the US for graduate school where led a distinguished career. He is an honorary member of the World Innovation Forum, an inducted member of the Engineering, Science, and Technology Hall of Fame in addition to winning several other prestigious awards for his work in the manufacturing and quality consulting fields.
What Was Best About The Difference?
The Difference establishes the “heart” of matter when it comes to insuring quality, something that businesses are prone to overlook. In Chowdhury’s eyes, businesses can adopt all of the “best practices” they want, but the effort will ultimately fail if the employees don’t mentally commit to the workplace and the “best practices” that a leader chooses. The Difference explains why quality isn’t a trivial matter. The book then provides a simple set of principles, well-developed examples, and a highly-decorated expert’s platform to help readers make this campaign for quality for the better.
What Could Have Been Done Differently?
The Difference has a unique approach when talking about quality. As discussed above, the book doesn’t delve into manufacturing strategies or ways to increase productivity. The focus is on the “human” aspect of quality. The book introduces several examples of what happens when this goes wrong; however, it doesn’t provide strategies for a solution. It leaves readers to connect the dots. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily because it forces readers to find their own solutions using the book’s stated principles.
Why Read The Difference?
The Difference is an accessible guide to the key ingredient for creating and maintaining quality in the workplace, a caring mindset. Without the right mindset, any external attempts to address a quality issue will ultimately backfire. The book helps readers understand the implications of having a different “quality is mindset” belief in every part of your business, no matter what kind of industry you are in. Using a very simple set of principles and down-to-earth stories, Chowdhury identifies the key factors that distinguish excellent organizations from good ones.