THE FIVE DIMENSIONS OF QUALITY
By Richard E. Winder
Presented at: Kitchener Quality Conference
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
November 17, 1992
Copyright 1992, Richard E. Winder. All Rights Reserved.
The phrase "Delight the Customer" has emerged in the past few years as a new standard of quality. "Customer Satisfaction" is diminishing in its significance. "Customer" itself is taking on new meaning, now referring to both internal and external "customers." The focus on not just meeting, but exceeding, internal and external customers' expectations has uncovered a new dimension of quality and has brought to light a complete dimensional framework for understanding quality.
Recent developments in relational economic theory(1), psychology(2), and leadership theory(3) provide a solid foundation for comprehending quality's new fifth dimension standard as well as the four other dimensions for which it is the capstone. In a world which is still searching for a succinct definition of quality which is more than just a stipulation of what quality is, these five dimensions of quality provide a refreshing description of the underlying dynamics of quality.
Under the dimensional framework, quality is the process of moving people and organizations from a state of limitation, punishment, captivity, or victimization to a state of liberation, participation, captivation, and actualization. This is done by anticipating and fulfilling stated and implied needs.
The five dimensions of quality are experience; measurement; relationships and systems thinking; inter-connectivity; and value sharing. These dimensions provide an innovative framework for assessing, planning, and implementing quality improvement efforts. They also provide a structure for understanding the difference between "management" and "leadership" and highlight why "management by objective" lacks the necessary power to fulfill quality through all of quality's dimensions.
"Delight the Customer" forms the highest dimension, the value sharing dimension. However, it cannot exist in isolation of the other dimensions. In fact, it is the fulfillment of all the other dimensions which permits the value sharing dimension to bring quality to a state of completion and fulfillment.
An understanding of each dimension is necessary in order to understand how the dimensions inter-relate and support each other. Each dimension is holographic and reflects all the other dimensions, providing an internal consistency to the dimensional structure.
The First Dimension: Experience. The experience dimension is literally one dimension. If it exists in isolation of the other dimensions it is much like a stream of consciousness story, going from one circumstance to another with no real direction or purpose. Yet the power of the first dimension is that it is the dimension--and the only dimension--through which vision is translated into reality. All of the other dimensions are meaningless unless they are eventually transformed into existence through the experience dimension. "Talk is cheap." Vision can come into actualization only by doing what needs to be done to accomplish it.
Since experience is the translation into reality of the existing vision of the organization, experience becomes the "footprint" of the system in place. By recognizing that system, we can measure the "footprint" and verify whether the system is doing what it was designed to do. If it is not, we can then make modifications to the system to transform it into the system desired.
Experience also has significant value as a learning mechanism. An organization which learns from its own experience or from the experience of others (e.g., through benchmarking) retains its vitality. In fact, under learning curve theory, continuing experience in producing a product or service will reduce the time required to produce it. Consequently, for some companies, market share becomes a significant goal because the larger the market share, the greater the opportunity to become more efficient at producing the goods or services.
Management mobility, decried by Dr. Deming(4), robs the firm of valuable experience in which the firm has invested.
The Second Dimension: Measurement. Measurement exists in two dimensions. It gives us the power to observe not only that something was done (a first dimension attribute), but how well or how poorly it was done. Its two-dimensional nature provides a second variable (such as profitability or number of defects) which can be related to a primary variable (such as time) in order to assess progress or decline. The value of measurement is that it provides us with knowledge of the system which is in place.
The five dimensions of quality are reflected in the measurement dimension. Measuring only the experience dimension defines an inspection or detection system of measurement. In a performance measurement system consisting of two dimensions, we measure not only how bad or how good a particular part was, but how well we did in producing good parts during this shift or this day or this week. Tools which are useful in this dimension of measurement are the Pareto chart, the run chart, the histogram, and the control chart. Three dimensional measurements look at the system itself and describe relationships within that system. Three dimensional tools include the scatter diagram, flow diagram, and the cause-effect diagram (the fishbone chart). In addition, the seven tools of management (the affinity diagram, the interrelationship digraph, the tree diagram, the prioritization matrix, the matrix diagram, the process decision program chart, and the activity network diagram)(5) are all three dimensional tools which show relationships. Fourth dimensional measurements (discussed under the Fourth Dimension, below) assess the existing paradigm of the organization or its participants. Fifth dimensional measurements assess the extent to which value sharing exists and the extent to which customers have become "sustaining members" of the organization.
The Third Dimension: Relationships and Systems Thinking. The third dimension provides significant power in determining relationships between variables. This understanding can permit us to use less effort for greater rewards. The relationship dimension provides a third variable which we are able to observe in relation to two other variables. Through the use of three dimensions we can observe whether a change in one variable has any relation to a change in another variable. We can use this information to "work smarter, not harder," gaining significant improvement in productivity and efficiency.
Building on the knowledge provided by the measurement dimension, we are able to identify the interrelationship of people, plant and equipment, policies, and procedures to provide a picture, or "footprint," of the system which is in place. We can then assess what, if any, changes are needed to improve the system, and we can modify the system as necessary to increase its efficiency.
There are two aspects to the third dimension: systems thinking and interpersonal relationships. Systems thinking permits us to standardize processes that work well. Organizational efficiency is improved as these processes and procedures are incorporated into the system because it is no longer necessary to decide how a particular part should be produced or a particular matter should be handled. By standardizing these processes, the organization becomes "free of mortal risk."(6) If any one person leaves the organization, his or her learning does not leave with him or her because it has been standardized and has become part of the organization.
The third dimension also begins to utilize the power of interpersonal relationships in interactions among people within and among organizations. Relational economic theory teaches us that where there is a relationship between two parties to a trade, the buyer is willing to pay more, and the seller is willing to accept less.(7) This expands the trading range, and increases the likelihood that a trade will take place. But more importantly, the trade begins to take on a new dimension, such that the trade flows from the relationship, rather than the relationship existing purely because of the trade. The significance of this is that price becomes a less important consideration in the transaction, and price fluctuations to meet the needs of the parties do not affect the continuing trading relationship. Consequently, long-term trading relationships are established, providing a continuing stream of service to the buyer and a continuous source of income for the seller. This source of income is reflected in the retained earnings section of the seller's balance sheet.
In a long-term trading relationship, the focus can turn from "selling to the customer" to "fulfilling customer needs." It is the continuous fulfillment of these customer needs that binds the relationship. The resource base of both the buyer and the seller is expanded, because there is a more open sharing of human, information, and capital resources between the buyer and the seller, with each making its resources more openly available to the other. Customers become "sustaining members" of the organization, and their capital resources provide the continuing lifeblood for the firm.
The five dimensions of relationships reflect the degree to which a sympathetic relationship has developed among the participants. Punishment and victimization ("lose-lose") results if the participants deal with each other only on the experience level. In two dimensional thinking ("win-lose"), the participants begin to see each other as objects for personal gain (e.g., "How can I get my employees to do more work without paying them any more"). As systems begin to emerge, the participants begin to see each other as part of the system and begin to engage in contractual, or arms-length relationships (quid pro quo, or "this for that"). As the participants see the value each of them can provide, they shift their paradigm in the fourth dimension to a "win-win" partnership. In fifth dimension, participants' relationships are such that they see others needs as paramount to their own, and are willing to become mutual participants in meeting each others' needs ("lose self-gain all").
The Fourth Dimension: Interconnectivity. Interconnectivity is approached by looking at the same information through a new paradigm, a new set of eyes, a new set of rules. If, for example, we suspend our assumptions and permit a different perception of the information to surface, we often find that the new perception may be inconsistent with the traditional view, but it provides its own logic. Within that new logic the new paradigm provides a perfectly valid means of understanding and interpreting the information.
Understanding interconnectivity permits us to assess the underlying paradigms of an organization and shift the paradigm to provide new life. For example(8), one firm had a bereavement policy that was three pages long and very strict. It required the employee to comply with a complex procedure to obtain three days bereavement leave. As the firm's management reflected on the policy, they realized that it was drafted for employees whom they could not trust to not abuse the policy. They began to "measure the paradigm" of each employee, and they discovered that they could trust ninety-five percent of the employees. The bereavement policy was drafted for the five percent of employees they could not trust.
Realizing that most of the employees were living in the trust paradigm, the firm management modified the bereavement policy. It become one paragraph--less than half a page--and it essentially authorized bereavement leave upon approval of the supervisor. The firm found that while the incidence of use of bereavement leave increased dramatically, the total number of days off for bereavement leave decreased by forty-seven percent.
By shifting from a non-trust paradigm to a trust paradigm, the firm discovered that the new paradigm was supported by new behavior. Thus, by shifting the paradigm rather than attempting to shift the behavior, they were in fact able to accomplish a serendipitous change in behavior. This is because the behavior flows from the paradigm under which it exists. If the firm, without changing the policy, had asked the employees to reduce their use of bereavement leave, this request would have only strengthened the "distrust" paradigm. Employees would have felt that the firm was taking something away from them, and would have felt victimized by the firm's effort to do so. Through the firm's shift in paradigms, the employees actually felt that they were receiving a new benefit rather than giving up a benefit.
Another business was having difficulty with employees taking too long at break time. The firm was using a buzzer system to signal the beginning and end of the break. But there was confusion about what the buzzer meant, and the employees would not leave the break room until they heard the buzzer. The owner felt the best way to eliminate the confusion was to eliminate the buzzer. Now the employees are spending less time on break, and are reminding one another that the break time should not be abused. In this situation, the movement to a responsibility paradigm was reciprocated by the employees, who took more responsibility for their conduct. As with the change in the bereavement policy, these employees felt they were receiving a benefit. Had the owner simply tried to modify the behavior by requesting shorter break time, the "irresponsible" paradigm would have been accentuated. The behavior change would have been resisted, and even if the behavior had changed, it would have eventually flowed back to remain consistent with the existing "irresponsible" paradigm.
The paradigm shift can provide a significant tool for cultural change in an organization. The power of the paradigm stems from the fact that it drives behavior (rather than being driven by behavior). Behavior which appears inconsistent with a particular paradigm may be fully compatible with another paradigm. The paradigm provides the logic for interpreting the behavior. Since the paradigm is the source of logic for the behavior, a paradigm which is consistent with the vision of the organization has great power to drive the actualization of that vision.
In some organizations there is a severe conflict between vision and logic. Those with vision, the lateral or "right brain" thinkers, are constantly having their ideas trampled by those who insist that the visionaries "have their head in the clouds." The linear or "left brain" thinkers, on the other hand, are accused of "logical overkill" as they are constantly frustrated at the way things keep changing. In the organization in which the primary paradigm is consistent with the vision, this conflict is minimized because the logical rules which are applied to the vision are consistent with the vision. This alignment can only be achieved through a focus on the paradigm. It cannot be accomplished through a focus on behavior, because the interpretation of the behavior is driven by the paradigm.
In addition to providing the logic for cultural change, the interconnectivity dimension provides the basis for innovation in an organization. Research by Dr. Judd has uncovered a new psychology dimension, conative psychology, which is distinct and separate from the behavioral, cognitive, and affective domains of traditional psychology. Conative psychology theory separates instinct and intuition from the affective domain where it has traditionally been classified. The conative dimension is one which can be cultivated and developed, providing a powerful tool for innovation and change in an organization.(9)
The conative dimension provides "fleeting" instinctive or intuitive thoughts which, if responded to, can lead to new technology and different ways of doing things. Conation, the underlying force of the conative domain, is described as "that which we do without really knowing why we are doing it."(10) If these "conative promptings" are ignored, they are lost. Thus, a person's ability to effectively utilize the conative dimension depends on his or her "response-ability": his or her ability to respond to these "conative promptings."
The conative dimension was utilized at a non-profit foundation to significantly reduce data entry time. Each month data entry involves, among other things, entering the interest, service charge, and net amount for 4,000 bank accounts which provide the foundation's primary source of income. Some accounts numbers are as long as fifteen digits, providing great opportunity for error in entry. An intuitive thought brought the staff to the realization that the manner in which the accounts had been entered into the computer system permitted the computer to identify which accounts belonged to each bank. A simple basic program was written to create "blank" transaction entry screens for each account--in the same order in which they were listed on the remittance report provided by the bank. This eliminated the need to enter the account number and permitted entry of just the interest and service charges for each account as it appeared on the screen, substantially reducing data entry time and enhancing the accuracy of the data entry.
During the process the data entry person kept complaining about a computer bell that beeped every time the service charge exceeded the interest for that account. "Isn't there anything you can do to get rid of that crazy bell?" she asked. The response was no, it could not be replaced because it was there for control purposes. But the new program provided other ways to identify that service charges exceeded interest and that the transactions were in balance. Moreover, it was the executive director and the finance staff, not the data entry staff, who were interested in "negative" accounts. So the bell was eliminated, reducing data entry time by a few seconds more for each "negative" account (approximately one-fourth to one-half of the accounts).
In this manner, the conative dimension permitted the staff to effectively respond to the needs of its internal customers. Similarly, the conative dimension can be effectively used by an alert supplier to anticipate and respond to the stated and implied, current and future, needs of external customers.
The five dimensions of interconnectivity are the universal paradigms associated with each dimensional level. In a one-dimensional world the punishment and apathy paradigms prevail (with focus on "getting back" or "getting even" or "why bother?"). As participants add measurement to experience they begin to look around at what others are doing, and the competition paradigm emerges ("get ahead of them"). As participants employ three dimensions and begin to understand the power of the system, the focus turns toward the achievement paradigm ("get ahead"). In the fourth dimension, participants begin to understand that "what goes around comes around," and engage in developing partnerships for mutual growth. It is in the fifth dimension, where parties are willing to dedicate resources to assist other participants that the value sharing paradigm emerges, providing the basis for quality's highest fulfillment: "Delight the Customer."
The Fifth Dimension: Value Sharing. The heart of relational economics lies in value sharing, expressed as follows: "If I give something to you that has more value to you than it does to me, then together we are better off as a result of the trade." For example, "If I give you something that is worth $10 to you but $3 to me, then after the trade, we, together, are worth $10 rather than $3, even if I do not receive anything in exchange."
In quality, value sharing is expressed in the phrase "delight the customer." Essentially this means "give the customer more than the customer is paying for," or "consecrate resources to the customer." It is this willingness to extend beyond the quid pro quo of "customer satisfaction" to "dedicating resources to the customer" that builds customer relationships through which the customers become "sustaining members" of the organization.
In philosophical terms the trade has two components: justice, which refers to the process of exacting the price(11), and mercy, which refers to payment of the price.(12) If the price exacted extends beyond what is fair and reasonable, then justice turns to punishment. If such a price is paid, then mercy turns to indulgence.
In certain circumstances, where the object of the trade has more value to the recipient than to the giver, the transfer of the object can build value even if the "seller" does not receive anything in exchange because together, after the trade, the parties are worth more than they were before the trade. In this case, the price is still paid. It is paid not by the purchaser, but by the seller, through an "extension of mercy." Thus, by extending mercy and paying part or all of the price in order to accomplish the trade, the seller has increased the total value of the parties, and justice and mercy remain integral parts of the trade. This "free will gift" is a part of every transaction which delights the customer. Justice and mercy build trading relationships. Since, through extension of mercy, justice and mercy are part of the trade, the trading relationship is enhanced. If the "free will gift" had no value to the recipient, then its transfer to the recipient would have constituted indulgence on the part of the seller. Punishment and indulgence destroy trading relationships.
The five dimensions of value sharing involve the integration and fulfillment of all the other dimensions with respect to all the participants. It is accomplished through leadership, which is the only organizational behavior theory which incorporates all five dimensions.
The leadership process is simple yet powerful. The leader develops a vision for the organization and shares it with the other participants. Then all participants engage in sharing vision, resources (human/time resources, information/knowledge resources, and financial/capital resources), and value. All of this is bound together by the vision and its logical implementation.
In the leadership model, leadership begins and ends with shared vision. Shared vision becomes the lifeblood of leadership. When vision fades, so does leadership. Vision is driven by the underlying paradigm of the participants, and as such, becomes the logic by which the activities of the participants are understood.
In the value sharing paradigm, the vision of an organization is a description of the common good that is derived from the relationship among its participants. Consequently, the vision cannot be fully defined until an understanding is reached as to who the participants are, since, in the quality process it is the satisfaction of the needs of these participants which drives the quality improvement process.
Vision is directed toward the needs of each and all participants. Vision is the node which binds the participants together. Consequently, in relational economics, if vision is not shared, it does not exist. If the vision does not address the needs of a participant, then the vision is not (and cannot be) shared by that participant.
Anything less than leadership does not have the power to fulfill all the dimensions of quality. For example, management by objective, decried by Dr. Deming, uses only three dimensions. It operates on an incentive system in which ideally the goals of the organization are tied to incentives for the employees. As the employees do the work necessary to achieve the incentive (in the achievement paradigm), the work of the corporation is accomplished. However, if the goals of the corporation change to respond to new market needs, it is very difficult to change the incentives. Yet unless they are changed, the employees continue to work toward the wrong objectives.
Worse yet is the tyranny or autocratic model, which exists only in the experience dimension. The autocrat has no sensitivity to the needs of others and imposes his or her will on them. This breeds the punishment paradigm ("get back" or "get even") or the apathy paradigm ("I'll put in my 40 hours a week, but do not ask me to do anything extra.").
As leadership is implemented, it becomes synonymous with quality. The primary function of quality is in meeting the needs of internal and external customers. Strategic quality planning is accomplished through the Quality Leadership Plan, through which an organization identifies the participants and the vision, identifies which participants will provide what resources, and identifies how the value will be shared among participants.
As an organization understands and measures the five dimensions of quality within its organization, it can gain great understanding of the "footprint" of its system of serving internal and external customers. With this understanding, it can then design the system which is best adapted to the needs of all participants and transform its organization from the system in place to that new system design. Most importantly, if the organization understands and embraces the relational economic concept of value sharing, it can assist its internal and external customers in becoming "sustaining members" of the organization. Utilization of all five dimensions of quality through organizational leadership will assist the firm in becoming a significant participant in local, regional, national, and global markets.
1. Robison, Lindon J., and A. Allan Schmid, "Interpersonal Relationships and Preferences: Evidences and Implications," Handbook of Behavioral Economics, Vol. 2, Roger Frantz and Harinder Singh, eds., J.A.I. Press, 1989.
2. Judd, Daniel K., "Agentive Theory as Therapy: An Outcome Study," Dissertation, Brigham Young University, 1987.
3. Winder, Richard E., Lindon J. Robison, and Daniel K. Judd, The Quality Leadership Plan, Leadership Press, 1991.
4. Deming, W. Edwards, Out of the Crisis, Massachusetts Institute for Technology, Center for Advanced Engineering Study, 1986, p. 98.
5. Brassard, Michael, The Memory Jogger Plus +TM, (Methuen, Massachusetts: GOAL/QPC), 1989, page 4.
6. This phrase was developed by Dr. Eugene Jennings of Michigan State University.
7. Robison, Lindon J. and A. Allan Schmid.
8. Scholtes, Peter R., "Teamwork in the Quality Era," televised broadcast on April 14, 1992 in cooperation with the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, George Washington University, and GW National Satellite Network.
9. Judd, Daniel K.
10. Webster's Third International Dictionary of the English Language, (Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam Company, 1971), "Conation."
11. Ibid., "Justice," p. 1228. See "Commutative Justice," page 461, which is defined as "the justice bearing on the relations between individuals especially in respect to the equitable exchange of goods and fulfillment of contractual obligations." "Distributive Justice" is defined by Aristotle as the justice that is concerned with the apportionment of privileges, duties, and goods in consonance with the merits of the individual and in the best interest of society. "Distributive Justice," page 660. Aristotle defines "Retributive Justice" as the justice concerned with punishing or rewarding an individual. "Retributive Justice," page 1940.
12. Ibid., "Mercy," page 1413.
ANSI/ASQC. 1987 Quality Systems Terminology, American National Standard. A3-1987.
Barker, Joel A., Future Edge, New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1992.
Brassard, Michael, The Memory Jogger Plus +TM, (Methuen, Massachusetts: GOAL/QPC), 1989.
Deming, W. Edwards, Out of the Crisis, Cambridge, Mass.: Massachusetts Institute for Technology, Center for Advanced Engineering Study, 1986.
Judd, Daniel K., "Agentive Theory as Therapy: An Outcome Study," Dissertation, Brigham Young University, 1987.
Robison, Lindon J., "Deductive Implications of Social Distance Models," Appendix B, Richard E. Winder, Lindon J. Robison, and Daniel K. Judd, Value Sharing: A Foundation for Value Building, Haslett, Michigan: Leadership Press, 1991.
Robison, Lindon J. and A. Allan Schmid, "Interpersonal Relationships and Preferences: Evidences and Implications, Handbook of Behavioral Economics, Vol. 2, Roger Frantz and Harinder Singh, eds., J.A.I. Press, 1989.
Scholtes, Peter R., "Teamwork in the Quality Era," televised broadcast on April 14, 1992 in cooperation with the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, George Washington University, and GW National Satellite Network.
Senge, Peter M., The Fifth Discipline, New York: Doubleday/Currency, 1990.
Webster's Third International Dictionary of the English Language, (Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam Company, 1971), "Conation."
Winder, Richard E., Lindon J. Robison, and Daniel K. Judd, The Quality Leadership Plan, Leadership Press, 1991.