Venture Knowledgist Quality Integration
QUA VADIS QUALITY PROFESSION?
- CHALLENGES OF THE INFORMATION SOCIETY TO QUALITY
This paper considers actual problems and challenges within the
whole quality profession and in today's quality management and quality
assurance realizations in organizations. Problems are exemplified
with the recent development of the quality related international
standardization and usage of the standards. Also changed business
environments give birth to new problems but also to new opportunities.
The paper brings forward how to respond to these situations especially
regarding to quality management in knowledge-intensive organizations (in fact all organizations are today very strongly knowledge-intensive).
The paper presents possibilities for practical and beneficial applications
of new principles, tools and organization-infrastructures for development
of business-integrated quality management especially based on information
and knowledge work environments in organizations applying disruptive
IT (understood as Interactive Technology) innovations.
Topics presented are new breakthrough ideas compared to typical
current organizational applications and researches in the field of quality management and assurance.
Ideas presented may be implemented into all kinds of organizations.
Very new issue is to give guidance how to apply the newest Web 2.0
(O'Reilly, 2005) solutions for
quality management. Consideration of problems and challenges of
new business environments may help organizations avoid or repeat
pitfalls in their quality development. The paper may also be seen
as a source of ideas for interesting and significant future research
The situational knowledge for the paper is based on world-wide observations
by the author through collaboration with many different contexts,
organizations and expert networks. The paper provides viewpoints
of an industrial practitioner knowing by experience real difficulties
and possibilities in organizations (see e.g. Anttila, 2008b). Recognized
researchers have been referred for the links to sound theoretical
There are serious problems in the prevalent
quality management approaches
It is easy to observe that there are plenty of cases where established
organizational quality management approaches of yesterday or today don't respond to the
real needs of the organizations:
- Business leaders are not involved or committed in quality development, it is only
a specialist issue. One reason is that business leaders are very
busy people (Anttila, Kajava & Pirnes, 2007) and not deeply
aware of highly specialized and complicated areas of business management
(Anttila, 2007; Anttila, Savola, Kajava, Lindfors & Röning,
2007) like today's quality management and quality assurance.
- Communication between business managers and quality experts is
not easily effective because their roles and positions are so different.
Business leaders know right things and experts know the means to
do things right. Business leaders are generalists and strongly acting
individuals with governing organizational positions. Experts are
specialists and deeply knowing individuals with low position-based
- Quality initiatives are superficial. Typical distinct quality
(management) systems are not business-centred. There are too much
copied solutions without innovations. Diversity in quality realizations
is endangered. Too often quality related actions are only reactive
and there are very little proactive innovations in the field of
quality. Are there any new innovations created for organizations'
quality development after Deming, Ichikawa, and Juran? Is it only
"Plus ca change, plus c'est la même chose "? (Anttila,
- There are many different, distinct, and competing quality methodologies
on which even quality experts don't share the same opinions. Examples
include ISO 9000 standards (both ISO 9004 and ISO 9001), performance
excellence models (quality awards criteria), SixSigma methodology, lean management practices,
maturity models (SEI, 2007), balanced scorecards, business process management (BPM), business process
reengineering (BPR), ITIL practices (Information Technology Infrastructure
Library) (OGC, 2006), etc.
- There are many other specialized managerial initiatives in organizations
competing with quality development e.g. relating to finance management,
corporate governance, business risks management, human resource
development, knowledge management, information and security management,
occupational health and safety, environmental protection, innovation
management, ethical management, etc.
- Quality initiatives in organizations are certification-emphasized,
not for enhancing real business performance. Third-party "quality system" certifications are commercialized
and lost their credibility.
- Formal documentation is highlighted instead of a comprehensive
management and application of business information and knowledge.
- Quality implementations don't take effectively into account realities
of modern business environments that relate to aspects of time,
speed, agility, networking, complexity, tacit knowledge, and informal
learning and innovation (El-Meligy & Anttila, 2008).
In many cases quality development has not redeemed its promises
ISO 9000 standardization as an example
of problematic development in quality management
ISO 9000 standards have already a long history and strong impact
- in both good and bad - on the development of quality cultures
globally (Anttila, 1999). The international standards family of
quality management consists of many different kinds of documents
prepared by the international ISO/TC 176 committee and some other sector specific
standardization committees. Now the fifth generation of ISO 9000
basic standards is under consideration, and the last published versions of the standards are ISO 9001 published
in 2008 and ISO 9004 published in 2009 (ISO, 2008; ISO, 2009).
Although situation seems to be reasonably good in general in ISO
9000 standardization and the basic ISO 9000 standards have had an
enormous impact on the development of quality practices globally,
this has not taken place without problems and drawbacks:
- There is stagnation in the development of ISO 9001 standard. Factually
there has been no essential development during the recent 15 years
in the standard and no remarkable change is expected during the
next few years. However, organizational business environments and
communities are changing at increasing pace.
- Standard ISO 9004 is too general, vague, and customary and therefore
hardly can provide any practical guidance or support for organizations'
business development. There is better other literature available
for this purpose. Assessment model in the standard is theoretical
and does not reflect needs of organizations. It cannot compete with
recognized performance excellence models (quality awards criteria).
Still after many years there is a great uncertainty and disagreement
about the role of ISO 9004 standard.
- ISO 9000 standardization process is too slow, mainly based on
voluntary resources and ineffective consensus practice, and it is
poorly managed and cannot follow the general development and trends
of business environments and society at large.
- Standardization bodies have very weak means to control use of
standards. Use of standards is directed strongly by commercial consulting
and certification business but not by genuine business needs.
Problems in developing and using recognized standards of quality
management promote quality to lose its genuine attraction and interestingness.
This also creates disappointments towards quality professionalism.
Commercialized certification business based on stagnant ISO 9001
has endangered diversity and innovation in quality management in organizations. There
is threat to future of the whole management and ISO 9000 standardization.
Although ISO 9000 standards are most well-known and used reference
for organizations' quality development, many of the users are not
aware of the related problems and their reasons.
Changed business environments set new
requirements for quality management
Business environments of all kinds of organizations have changed
from certainty and predictability to uncertainty and ambiguity.
That includes the following:
- Organizations are operating in emergent and self-organizing business
networks that cannot be managed as a whole. There are also hostile
actors in networks (Krebs, 2007).
- Business processes are complex responsive processes of relating
that cannot be managed only with rational means. Network relationships
and business interactions take place by these processes. (Stacey,
2004; Naidoo, 2005)
- Simultaneously there are requirements for agility and maturity
(Agile, 2001; SEI, 2007).
- Significance of immaterial issues (information, knowledge, services)
is greater than of material issues (Davis & Mayer,1998).
- People live, operate and learn in informal social networks where
especially connectivity, interactivity and sharing knowledge are
crucial factors for success (Downes, 2007; Siemens, 2004; Cross,
- Internet is an important part of society and business globally
(Levine, Locke, Searls & Weinberger, 1999; Anttila, 2002).
- Transaction phenomena and the cost of transactions are key aspect for forming business organizations
and arrangements (Coase, 1937; Anttila, 2002).
- Increased speed of activities and change are prerequisites for
all business (Anttila, 2004; El-Meligy & Anttila, 2008).
- Employees and business leaders are under immense pressure and
stress (Anttila, Kajava & Pirnes, 2007).
These changed business environments have remarkable effects on
management solutions in all organizations and therefore they must
also be taken into account in modern quality management.
Responding to challenges and necessity
of changes in quality management
There are many organizational cases of coping and feeling satisfactory
with certain theories, principles, techniques and methodology of
quality that are being tried or used distinctly. Examples include
usages of ISO 9000, quality awards criteria or SixSigma. In many
cases major achieved benefits are not necessarily caused by those
particular methodologies but mainly by decisive and active management
by using any systematic methodology. A well-known example is General
Electric Company, SixSigma and Jack Welch (Welch, 2005). However,
there is an expanding critical discussion about the prevalent approaches
of quality discipline and presenting needs for change. Particularly
central issue that has emphasized by all recognized references is
how to integrate quality measures with business management and to
take into account relevant business environments (ISO, 2008a; NIST,
There are new initiatives presenting business integrated approach
of quality management that may be recognized as weak signals to
changes even in ISO 9000 standardization:
- Business integration of specialized domains of management including
quality, environmental protection, safety, etc. instead of separate
systems (ISO, 2008c)
- Degreasing the use of concept "quality management (system)" from
the core standard ISO 9004 of the ISO 9000 standards series and
replacing it by "business management (system)". There
is a broad unanimousness that quality management equals with quality
of management instead of old minded management of quality (ISO,
2008a). The mew concept that is coming to discussions in this context is ecosystem.
- Simultaneous use of ISO standards and excellence models (ISO,
2005; Anttila, 2008b)
- Using organizational profile for finding out an organization's
identity as a basis for unique organization-dedicated quality and
performance development (ISO, 2006; NIST, 2007)
- Incorporating time, speed and agility (together with networked
collaboration, complexity, knowledge, learning, serendipity, etc.)
aspects to ISO 9000 standardization (Table 1; Figure 1) (ISO, 2008b)
Table 1. Survey questionnaire of standardization committee ISO TC
176/SC 3 for gathering information and ideas on time, speed and
agility and related aspects from organizations for ISO 9000 standardization
(ISO, 2008b) including seven question areas and many sub-areas (Table
presents titles of all survey areas, and area 2 in details.)
Figure 1 shows findings from the survey's area 2 of table 1. This
includes results from 512 persons, different kinds of organizations
and about 30 countries.
Figure 1. Results from survey of committee ISO TC 176/SC3. ZEF (Z-scored
Electronic Feedback) methodology and on-line tool was used in the
survey (ZEF, 2008). Here the results of question area 2 (numbers
are explained in table 1) as Z-scored transformed form (Hoffman,
2008) in order to emphasize differences between different items.
Numbers represent average values and ellipses standard deviations
According to survey results all the aspects of Table 1 were very
relevant, important and even critical in the business of participated
organizations. Organizations had already done some measures to take
them into account in developing their management practices. However,
general awareness and methodological support available for this
was rather little. Management standards and other references supporting
management development were used fairly much among the organizations.
However, according to the respondents those materials don't support
strongly application of time, speed & agility and related aspects
in their managerial solutions.
American Society for Quality (ASQ, 2008) has very recently carried
out its fifth Futures Study with a group of circa 100 international
experts in the field to provide understanding of the forces that
would shape the future of quality (Table 2). The next ASQ Futures Study is being done in 2011.
Table 2. Summary of the results from Delphi study carried out by
the American Society for Quality (ASQ, 2008): "No boundaries
The old boundaries have been obliterated." Scoring
figures represent relative support to the topics got from the participated
One may draw conclusion from the ASQ study (Table 2) that those
traditional and prevalent solutions of quality management that are
based on narrow quality management approaches, quality realizations
within restricted organizational scopes only and mass production
should be replaced by global, human related and societal measures
utilizing innovations and new technology and impacted by new markets'
power and individual needs and expectations.
New principles, tools, and infrastructures are necessary for quality
management in order to avoid existing problems and take into account
modern changed and fast developing business environments. However,
organizations should learn to live and cooperate in situations where
there are many different kinds of business relationships and realizations.
In these new environments we may according to Tekes' GIGA Programme
(Tekes, 2008) recognize indicators affecting business models of
organizations in four different dimensions: social indicators, technological
indicators, industry indicators (see table 3), and market indicators.
Business environments and changes come up between two extreme scenarios:
- Growth within existing structure (vertical scenario)
- New industry structures and business models (horizontal scenario)
Table 3. Results from the study made in Finland by Tekes (Tekes,
It is typical that both scenarios will exist simultaneously and
intermingled within a business community, and organizations may
behaviour differently during their different development stages.
This common-mode development of organizations' businesses should be
seen and understood as basis for effective organization-dedicated
quality management development. Scenarios and affecting indicators
are foundations for organizations' business modelling that includes
the following also very strongly quality and quality management
related questions to be solved by each organization:
- Which customer needs are fulfilled?
- How is value created for customer?
- How do firms make money?
- How are technologies used and resources utilized?
- How do firms co-operate?
- How to define architectures, orchestration?
- How to concretize the service production and provisioning?
All these studies and observations reveal the importance of information
and knowledge and new challenges related technologies.
Levaging usage of information and knowledge
is a core area of quality management
Organization's quality management system means quality of management
that is carried out in a systematic way and covers the whole organization.
Success in management is based on right business related knowledge
and management skills to use knowledge on time effectively and efficiently
for current business needs. Business leaders also need in their
daily tasks a lot of very specialized knowledge and information.
The essence of quality management is to manage organizational resources
and operations by relevant information and knowledge. Needs of using
information have been increased overwhelmingly within all kinds
of organizations, their management systems, business processes,
and relationships with stakeholders (Anttila, 2002).
Very often in quality approaches, quality professionals have placed
stress on documentation (or particularly on quality documentation).
Often they have referred to the requirements of ISO 9000 standards.
However, real requirements for documentation come only from business
needs, not from standards which are only guiding references or general
models for business operations. Documentation practices for managing
an organization have developed from passive and separate documents
to dynamic and flexible systems for leveraging usage of information
and knowledge in collaborative group work. Old solutions (which
however are still major practices in many organizations) include:
- Loose and fragmented paper documents
- Copied or printed manuals, procedure documents, record reports,
- Fragmented documents in information technology (IT) systems
- Semi-structured IT systems or intranets with variable share of
Office and HTML documents
An organization needs to share information and knowledge among
its managers, employees, and people of stakeholders. In order to
manage situation, organizations have invested in IT solutions. However,
development and use of IT solutions has been problematic in practice.
During past years many IT applications have made jobs of people
more complex and difficult, rather than simplifying their work (Collins,
Effective use of modern disruptive (Christensen, 1997) information
technology gives completely new possibilities especially strengthening
applications in area of tacit knowledge that, in fact, covers the
most important and largest part of business knowledge. These new
- Portals and portlettes
- Collaborative learning / group work and social networking infrastructures (Web 2.0)
Portal (Collins, 2001) is a modern solution for knowledge-content
businesses and seen as a solution to chaotic information situation
in organizations. Negative point is that portals are expensive and
complicated to create and maintain and suitable mainly for big organizations.
Web 2.0 (O'Reilly, 2005) means second-generation of Internet-based
services, such as social networking sites, wikis, communication
tools, and folksonomies, that let people collaborate and share information
online in ways previously unavailable. Web 2.0 based social networking
applications are simple and cheap solutions of disruptive innovations
that have wide variety of quality management related uses such as
personal work support, collaborative cooperation and learning, carrying
out and managing projects, supporting process work and cooperation
in networked business environments. Their strengths include customizable
group systems that allow many groups to work simultaneously on sharing
individual knowledge and to create new mutual knowledge. Designed
to ease problems solving with group based working, new solutions
of knowledge work environments make it possible to work in groups,
inside and outside the organization (Anttila, J., 2006). Web 2.0
tools became popular in their extensive use in Internet but now
these applications are being launched also to organization-internal
business purposes. They make also possible to create virtual network
organizations for modern business communities (Ryyppö, 2007)
Basic Web 2.0 tools, blogs, wikis and aggregators (Anttila, 2006),
promote well-known SECI process for knowledge transformation: Socialization
- Externalization - Combination - Internalization of knowledge (Nonaka,
Toyama, Konno, 2000). Additionally Web 2.0 provides a lot of applications
that are interesting from quality management's point of view. That
includes use of the following features of Web 2.0:
- RSS: Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication for automatic
feeding of business interested information (Pilgrim, 2002)
- Mashup: A website or application that combines content from more
than one source into an integrated experience (Merrill, 2006)
- Tag-cloud: Visual depiction of content tags of a website (Bielenberg,
& Zacher, 2006)
- Facebook: A social utility that connects people with colleagues
and others who work, study and live with them (Facebook, 2008)
- RTE - Real Time Economy applications: Speeding up information flow between
companies, each having capabilities to monitor their businesses
continuously and quickly react to changes and exceptions (Real Time
Enterprises have already made serious preparations for their Web
2.0 strategies, as reported by recent news (JackBe Corporation,
- McKinsey: Over 80% of enterprises plan to use Web 2.0 technologies
for better interactions with customers, partners and employees.
- The Wall Street Journal: About 20% of companies use mashups in
one form or another and, mashups will become so intuitive that non-technology
users will be building them.
- Economist: Serious business: A perspective on Enterprise Web 2.0,
and how Web 2.0 goes corporate and organizations are taking advantage
- IDC: The hidden costs of information work: Information tasks are
central to today's organizations, and organizations that give information
workers adaptive, enabling technology can gain great competitive
- BusinessWeek: When companies do the mash. Corporations are jumping
onboard the trend of mixing and matching information from different
Solutions should be made individually in each organization or business community. Table
3 presents one example for an organization's modern networking strategy
Table 3. Example of initiatives for a modern networking strategy
Based on Web 2.0 principles and tools we have developed company-dedicated
solutions to support companies' managerial quality activities. Solutions are
built as management Knowledge Work Environments (KWE) (Anttila,
2008a; Anttila, 2006) and used as online Web service by "Software-as-a-Service"
(SaaS Resource Center, 2008). Figure 2 shows how KWE tools are available
at the user interface of the system for collaborative activities
of management processes.
Figure 2. Tools at user interface of a Knowledge Work Environment
for quality of management
Especially strategic management is strongly
a knowledge-based collaborative and innovative activity where typically
organization's board of directors, executing managers, selected
experts, personnel representatives, and stakeholders' representatives
may be involved. Its purpose is to strive for enhancing overall
business performance of an organization for better competitiveness
and success. Strategic management consists particularly of organizational
change management. However, simultaneously also organization's current
business results should be ensured as a whole as planned. The principle
is that KWE's wiki covers organization's whole business. Wiki includes
access to the following main business management elements: Corporate
business foundations, business processes, managerial tools, business information,
stakeholders and business results.
Quality assurance is strongly related
to information and communication
Quality assurance refers to measures with which a supplier strives
for getting its customer-organizations or other stakeholders convinced
of the fact that requirements pertaining to products are met and
that the supplier has reasonable abilities for that. There are many
possible solutions for establishing quality assurance but the essence
of a good quality assurance is always an effective communication
between organization and each of stakeholders. Third party certifications
have lost their credibility as an effective solution for quality
assurance (Anttila, 2008d).
There are continually business actions between organizations and
their stakeholders that reciprocally influence each other. Added
value to the parties is created by these transactions, but there
are always also involved transaction costs (Coase, 1937). Increasing
communication effectiveness is a great challenge to development
of principles and practices for supplier relationship. Use of Internet's
possibilities and particularly Web 2.0 social media is a great challenge because
the cost of individual transactions may be decreased to minimum
and consequently one may increase the amount of transactions effectively.
Internet may also give quite new possibilities for supplier and
quality assurance communication, e.g. multilateral communication,
real-time multimedia information, "e-certificate" solutions,
collaborative social networking applications, and "Enterprise
One-To-One solutions" (Peppers & Rogers, 1999).
Confidence is most critical factor for success in cooperating between
partnering organizations. It is also a competitive advantage because
it is difficult to imitate a genuine confidence and to create it
in a short term. Transparency is the core element for building confidence
among cooperating organizations and individuals. Increased risks
and uncertainties within the operational environment set raised
requirements for confidence. Key measures for development of situation
focus on effective communication solutions.
Comprehensive approach to new quality
In practice the new way to organizational quality realizations
consists of three key aspects (Anttila, 2008c):
- Integration: Organizations implement effective / efficient and
business-relevant quality principles and methodology embedded within
their normal business management infrastructures for both strategic
management and operational management. Conceptually this means change
from quality management (management of quality) to quality of management.
- Responsiveness: Organizations enhance abilities to adjust quickly
to suddenly altered external conditions, and to resume stable operation
without undue delay that is based on dynamic and flexible business
- Innovation: All quality realizations are organization-dedicated
solutions. There is no single solution to organizations' challenges.
Organizations strive continuously for new organization-dedicated
innovative and unique approaches. Multiple different choices for
quality management are encouraged in competitive business environments.
That especially emphasizes change from standard approach to organization's
own unique approach.
- Collaboration: Communicating and working together with colleagues and appropriate knowledge communities appreciating connectivity, interactivity, and shared knowledge and resources.
As a summary when striving for competitiveness in today's business
circumstances one could underscore following theses of the new approach
for applying quality management:
- Recognizing performance excellence instead of narrow quality compliance
- Striving for flexible realization of quality of management and
leadership instead of distinct and vague quality management (i.e.
management of quality) by using effective managerial methodology
- Applying innovative systematic approach to quality of management
and leadership instead of formal and distinct quality (management)
- Using business-related quality management principles and actions
instead of formal and general quality assurance requirements only
- Aiming at innovative and unique solutions instead of stereotyped
- Relying on genuine and effective internal business performance
self-assessments and advanced quality assurance communication instead
of third party audits and certifications of "artificial"
quality (management) systems
- Getting advantage of tacit knowledge instead of only records of
explicit data and information and applying new revolutionary possibilities
of today's interactive technology.
- Networking with partners and recognized world-wide communities
of multifarious expertise
- Having genuine impacts on organization's quality approach and
success by the behaviour of the top management
Effective implementation of innovative organization-dedicated business-integrated
quality management does not call for any extra measures or investments.
Experiences have proved that it is always worthwhile to improve
the existing management approach and practices of the organization
based on a systematic methodology and organizational learning (Senge,
Roberts, Ross & Kleiner, 1995; Anttila, 2008a). However, implementing
new ideas requires courage from organizations to step out and stand
out from the growing crowd of look-likes. New approaches are still
more important in new dynamic business environments than in traditional
business relationships. For quality management the organization
must be always ready but never finished.
There are lots of new principles, tools and infrastructure solutions
available already now for organizations' quality of management development
especially related to new interactive technology for managing organizational
business information and knowledge. However, also additional research
is needed especially for recognizing implications of new business
change indicators and business models to the aims and purposes of
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[This text is based on a paper presented in Oulu, Finland in 2008
(ICPQR 2008 Conference)]