Juhani Anttila
Venture Knowledgist Quality Integration
Helsinki, Finland



1. '…to criss cross through a wide expanse of thought with remarks. The remarks are akin to landscapes that have been created on these long and winding travels.' (Wittgenstein)

2. Improving occurs in present time situations. The present moment manifests the real effects of the past, it provides a direct temporal connection to the future and sows its seeds. We create new history every moment.

3. As an international concept, 'quality' has changed over the years. A true picture of the issue can be discerned only by taking a look at how the concept has been realized in companies, including also public sector organizations. 'The aspects of issues most important to us remain hidden due to their simplicity and triviality. We cannot notice them because they are always before our eyes.' (Wittgenstein). When understood according to its standard definition (cf. the widely known and used ISO 9000 standards) one can say that every organization has always got a so-called quality system in place at all times.

4. When a company starts investing in quality the emphasis of quality is initially on technological flawlessness. Typically the next stage emphasizes customer focus and satisfaction (first in intentions and eventually also in action and results). This expands quite naturally through experienced needs to stakeholder satisfaction. In addition to customers stakeholders (interested parties) include owners, employees, partners, and society/nature. Once the company's business success is also taken into account here, quality takes on the meaning of business performance excellence. At this point the word 'quality' is not really needed any more in the company's day-to-day operations, but neither does it need to be feared or prohibited. Such a development history as described here is a natural one for a company in a competitive situation. The same course of developmental stages may also take place in a monopoly situation, as well as in the case of public services, but this calls for a broad mind and active influencing from the leadership people of the company.

5. Quality-related practices have generally developed (and continue to develop) from quality assurance to quality leadership due to the effects of reactionary and defensive reasons. (Here quality leadership and quality assurance are understood according to their standard (ISO 9000) definitions, i.e. quality leadership aims at superior competitiveness of one's business, whereas quality assurance strives to create customer confidence). A more natural course of development, should be the opposite, as true quality assurance can only be based on genuine quality leadership. However, the quality skills of CEOs have typically been fairly weak and case-specific, which has lead to quality technique experts gaining the upper hand or no influence at all.

6. Companies in small countries, such as e.g. Finnish companies, typically follow others as regards quality. They are typically not recognized as benchmarks or World Class Quality models worthy of following. Even though the level of technological expertise in some fields - such as the wood p industry in Finland - is at the highest level in the world, quality leadership approaches applied even in these fields have been of mediocre standards. Learning through trial and error is typically deceitfully slow.

7. In small countries, companies typically acquire their quality-related ideas from second or even third hand resources instead of learning them from their original sources. People of such countries can seldom be found in influential international positions in the field of quality, such as participants in ISO 9000 efforts or as key speakers at quality conferences.

8. Terms prevalent in international quality-related discussion include: Comprehensiveness (the quality-topic covers a company's business in its entirety), systematicity (a company is run as an entity consisting of processes), integration (quality is seamlessly integrated with business leadership practices), consistency (several different and mutually compatible functions are required for taking quality into account comprehensively), and the focus and alignment of the business with strategic considerations. In order for a company to reach business excellence, all of these must always be realized in an innovative and unique manner.

9. Over time, there has been gradual improvement in integrating quality-related activities with the company's business. In such integration, Total Quality Management (TQM) elements play a crucial role in leading and directing a business. The modern realization of TQM does not - and neither does the implementation of ISO 9000 standards - imply building a so-called quality system, which has in fact been genuinely opposed by many CEOs either silently or clamorously. Genuine company-wide wide integration TQM calls for both vertical (strategic) and horizontal (operative) integration. Vertical integration has to do with directing the entire organization, organizing it into units and process solutions, resourcing, and company assessments and reviews. In horizontal integration TQM elements are realized in particular key and support processes in order to produce and deliver products.

10. A common problem in quality system -centered development projects - including, unfortunately, a large number of Finnish quality improvement projects - has been that plans have been drawn up for systems. However, the opposite should be the case: Plans ought to be based on business visions and strategies and, based on these, systems and systematicity should be created for realizing these plans.

11. The following development stages can be discerned in the TQM integration of a company: (a) distinct and typically technical quality-related measures, (b) quality assurance, usually as a distinct measure, (c) mutually supporting quality leadership and quality assurance, (d) TQM as a comprehensive leadership principle, and (e) business performance excellence achieved through TQM principles.

12. In practice, integration cannot genuinely succeed if the leadership systematics of the company have not taken shape clearly or if it in fact functions on an ad hoc -principle. In such a case there are no natural 'fixing points' for TQM systematics to be found in the company's leadership. This has easily lead to the construction of distinct 'quality systems' in companies thanks to quality professionals and the general standardization in the quality field. The retroactive effect of such systems has been to promote disintegration in quality management. There have even been calls for constructing special quality systems in some fields of business and in the public sector.

13. In reality, instead of constructing and maintaining a quality system, quality leadership amounts to managing a complex range of business-related issues. Quality systems have often been criticized of being bureaucratic and this reflects clearly how the whole issue has been misunderstood. "A diverse issue cannot be managed with simple means" (the so-called Sir W. Ross Asby's Law). The situation is under the director's control only if control variability is greater that variability in the object to be controlled. This amounts to an impossible situation for many company CEOs and leads to two possibilities. Either the leadership stifles activities or, alternatively, leadership is only apparent leadership which has no real significance. The principles of modern quality thinking can be found already in the canons of Christianity, the basic teachings of which deal with the alignment of activities.

14. It is common to try and force the direction of an organization into a mold of rules based on rationality alone. In such cases the meaning of or possibilities included in myths etc. are not appreciated. 'Action stems mostly from feelings, not logic. Logic is applied to actions only afterwards.' (Vilfredo Pareto). For example, well-functioning plans have, in fact, often turned into tools of "autocommunication" (i.e. communication with oneself), that is, into corporate mantras.

15. Simultaneously with distinct quality systems falling prey to criticism, a crisis has also befallen companies' strategic planning systems, and the need for new forms of action (e.g. the scenario technique and Hoshin planning) has become apparent. It seems that the Americans are giving up the concept of 'strategic quality planning' which has been around for quite a long time, and the more natural integrated strategic planning is replacing it.

16. A lack of consistency is manifested in companies by the presence of several distinct measures pertaining to or touching upon quality which have been initiated by various different expert groups, such as quality and financial experts, human resource development and risk management persons, environmental protection, IT and data security specialists, and people in acquisition.

17. Several different corporate leadership trends have developed under various names alongside the TQM trend. The quality field, and quality experts in particular, need to be aware of these trends and be able to utilize them. Useful and timely topic areas for quality-related activities include the principles of a learning organization, knowledge management, and the balanced scorecard. These are competence areas of today's quality professionals. As a matter of fact, quality professionals are the right people to coordinate these topics in a company with the aim of promoting business performance. However, in most companies the truth is quite different. Numerous quality experts have focused narrowly only on creating and maintaining a quality system.

18. Different trends are harmful to a company if they are manifested as 'isms' and as e.g. leadership doctrines competing for resources within a company and forming distinct leadership systems. Maintaining separate leadership systems for specific areas leads easily to a chaotic situation in which it is impossible to comprehensively lead a company systematically and effectively in accordance with company objectives. This is why CEOs do not do this, but rather lead the company on the basis of their own intuitive views, while various expert groups construct and maintain distinct leadership systems alongside business leadership. Thus, a so-called quality system which has been specifically built with a quality objective in mind is not in fact a real leadership system adhering to e.g. the aims of the ISO 9000 standards, as in reality it is realized through an unsystematic leadership approach. Separate quality systems such as these are based on a misunderstanding of the ISO 9000 standards and they usually result in more harm than good.

19. It is best to realize TQM, environmental management, occupational health and safety (OHS) management systems together with the company's normal leadership system. This is already taking place in the most developed companies, even though the standardization of these areas is badly fragmented. When understood correctly, the ISO 9000 standards are very applicable as tools in the leadership planning of all these special areas.

20. Distinct leadership trends typically try to penetrate an organization through different expert groups and are usually based on approaches developed by internationally renowned consultants. In practice, these different approaches always contain considerable amounts of the same ingredients. For example, they usually require significant input and strong commitment from the leadership and are based on a process-like model of operations. Collisions between different approaches can be avoided when only one company-specific model is followed in the company's business leadership and development. Such a model allows for the utilization of ingredients from various different approaches. It does, however, require courage on the part of the leadership to act as a figurehead of the company's unique quality ideas and practices instead of leaning on nondescript general standards.

21. In many countries there is still a gap between the quality approaches of service and industrial companies. Industrial companies have quality professionalism which has been developed for decades. In the service industry, on the other hand, the main influence concerning quality-related issues has come from academically trained marketing professionals. There are many signs indicating that these two fields have in reality still not met and cannot even communicate with one another. For example, researchers at business schools have recently come up with ideas concerning customer satisfaction which have been published and discussed in quality literature for a long time already. However, the distinction between service companies and industrial companies is very theoretical and downright detrimental to TQM. All companies are service companies and many of them produce also goods. At its core, TQM is about good-quality leadership and it does not make any kind of distinction between service and production companies. Cooperation between experts in all fields is required in order to realize the quality objectives of a company. In implementing quality principles there is no fundamental difference between service and production companies.

22. The difference between service and production fields is partly due to the fact that the concept of product has not been understood in an effective way. The issue would undoubtedly call for research inputs, but the definition found in the ISO 9000 standards could be used as a good and concrete basis. In this definition a product is examined as an entity which includes, in addition to human and mechanic (automatic) service elements, also material goods phases. Thus for example the expression 'products and services', which is still used in many connections, sounds meaningless. In a sense, it also belittles service industry entrepreneurs, implying that they are incapable of seeing their services in a professional way as products. The product entity includes the actual intended product as well as harmful unintended products such as material and mental pollution.

23. Understanding the concept of service has proved to be difficult in practice. For example, even many so-called service companies have never clearly considered the essence of their products. The standard definition for service is promising. According to it, 'service' refers to the result of service companies' actions (in practice, processes) to the customer, who also participates in this result through his or her own actions. The action itself does not constitute service, but rather its more permanent result (e.g. the experience produced by a travel agency) which the customer retains even after the activity ends.

24. Well known, systematic means for product feature management (e.g. QFD, demand management, the Kano customer satisfaction model) are applied fairly infrequently in Finland. One can also utilize product data management (PDM) tools, for which promising real-life experiences are also available. These approaches are suitable for all kinds of products.

25. Improvement efforts aiming at company-specific performance excellence call for the courage to distinguish oneself from other companies. In reality this can happen only by building on one's own unique strengths. It is thus natural that the quality systematics implemented indicate has company-specific characteristics. This means that one should not construct a so-called ISO 9000 quality system into one's company but rather implement quality systematicity modified for the company's own needs. One cannot distinguish oneself as superior by using a standard formula. Quality measures are still reactive in most companies, where the point of departure consists of so-called nonconformities.

26. A strong inclination to rely on external consulting, etc. resources is an indication of the company's leadership's weak commitment and abilities in quality management. Certificates, for example, are often signs of such a situation. Companies that publicize vigorously their quality system certificates manifest symptoms of quality thinking that is still at the mediocre level of the 1970s and of a weak leadership. According to the integrating principle, the CEO of a company always has a personal and decisive role in TQM - whether he or she participates in it actively and intentionally or not.

27. Leadership or quality leadership cannot be standardized. It manifests - as it should - the leading person's personal approach and style. The only common denominator between all successful leaders is their own awareness of what is right. Only on this basis does one succeed or fail. Quality leadership is evident especially in decisions and in forwarding them as well as in the leader's own development towards stakeholders, including the leader himself as a person. It is common today for leaders to have problems in managing their time, but this is, however, a sign of problems in managing oneself.

28. Over the years, the quest for performance excellence has developed from rigid formal scoring of the leadership (e.g. McKinsey 7S) to company-specific appearance (Pursuit for WOW!). The leading authority in the field has been for many years now the American Tom Peters.

29. The modern quality approach is paradoxical in nature in the sense that excellence is pursued through day-to-day and mundane activities. The 'quality system' concept and the various 'rituals' associated with it often seem - at least initially, before one grows numb to them - unnatural. A more natural way to proceed is to start from the existing quality systematicity found in all companies. The strengths and weaknesses of this approach can be mapped and thus it systematicity continually increased. This also provides an opportunity to effectively utilize ISO 9000 standards and quality award criteria as well as other TQM tools.

30. The efficient development of TQM through organizational learning requires that the following three preconditions are met (cf. Peter Senge): (a) the issue is understood, (b) efficient tools are available, and (c) innovative leadership conditions are in place. According to many distinguished sources most quality-related initiatives have failed. The basic reasons behind such failures can usually be found in the fact that the aforementioned preconditions for organizational learning have not been met. Such flops are also often deceptive as companies have often not necessarily even noticed the failure themselves. In these cases unrevealed possibilities have been missed.

31. The comprehensive Total Quality Management of both a company as well as at a nation-level is a fuzzy concept as it involves always development stages and differences in degree. General quality award criteria and approaches have proven to be favorable means to assess the TQM (and overall business performance) level of a company. Evaluated thus, our companies do not rank very highly in a global context. The state-wide TQM level can also be examined critically with the scoring principles of quality award criteria. At least in Finland nobody has utilized this yet.

32. Interestingly, questions concerning company leadership knowledge issues have arisen lately. Once again the issue has been encountered through problems. Fact-based leadership, strategic and operative measures, knowledge and its quality have also become issues in quality discussions. It is interesting that knowledge can never 'float' freely, as it is always entwined in action and has a carrier, such as a document, medium, or expert. Thus, special knowledge products do not exist and the issue falls back on the ordinary concept of product (goods or services). Because people play a central role as regards knowledge, taking a look at the concept of work in a new challenging way becomes an important issue.

33. Until quite recently, people issues (personnel issues) have been discussed in relation with quality almost solely in connection with training and responsibilities. However, it has now become apparent that knowledge, creativity, and participation aspects have become a part of quality systematicity. Maybe at some point this will also have an impact on quality documentation and bring about radical new improvement in this area as well. After all, documentation should take effectively into account the needs of different user groups. The distinction between so-called tacit and explicit knowledge becomes a important question in this connection.

34. When digging in even deeper into issues concerning personal quality, the question of the basic nature of work is inevitably encountered. New views of work as a results producing, creative, and social forms of action have been presented in Japan (Nishibori and Kondo) and USA (O'Toole). According to these views an integral part of work should always be joy.

35. Various different 'quality tools' (better called TQM tools or business excellence tools) have been developed around the world over the years. The assortment of such implements may seem chaotic, despite the fact that they have been arranged into groups of various sizes, such as 7 + 7 + 7 + 127 + etc. tools. The utilization of tools in companies has often remained at a rather random level. However, there are also exemplary cases, in which a company has considered the issue and then selected a useful 'toolkit' for itself, especially for its leadership needs, and implemented the needed measures for its utilization, such as training and support. Managing the issue calls for a systematic view and management of the tools. It is especially important to distinguish the company's business requirements from the tools. A tool has only instrumental value and it does not know how it should be used; only a user of the tool can know this. A tool should not be allowed to take the lead. Taking a tool into use is always an investment question.

36. The ISO 9000 standards constitute a framework tool for understanding quality systematics in its entirety. The ISO 9000 standards have had a significant global effect on the development of the quality practices of companies and countries. One even hears talk of an ISO 9000 phenomenon. Unfortunately very often - probably in most cases - the original and intended meaning of the standards have not been understood or have been downright misunderstood. Important factors that have lead to this situation include, on the one hand, the obscurity of the standards themselves and, on the other hand, the fact that their implementation for certification has become a business. It is typical for the actual modern excellence principle of the standards to fade into the background in certificate-oriented quality assurance. Some have even come to believe that the standards do not even strive towards TQM at all. Fortunately this kind of certifying has not completely halted genuine company-specific implementation of the standards. However, for many companies, the certification trend has been more damaging than rewarding, as it has slowed down the pace of improving genuine TQM. Companies that want to distinguish themselves from the crowd in striving for excellence need understanding and courage. It is a difficult and individualistic path.

37. It is fortunate that, despite the certifying trend, it has also been possible to utilize ISO 9000 standards in a company-specific manner, which is in fact their basic purpose. Unfortunately, this has generally not been widely communicated. According to an expert opinion, if there are roughly 250,000 ISO 9000 certified companies in the world, there is a threefold number (750,000) of companies that utilize the standards in their own way to improve their business performance. Many of these are not even interested in obtaining a certificate. These companies, many of which have perhaps also understood the core purpose of the standards, should be brought more to the fore. Companies typically follow global developments, whether they be positive or negative ones.

38. In a free world there ought to be alternative means for companies to demonstrate their performance in addition to certificates. To promote this idea, a special 'resistance' movement to certifying was born, namely the Supplier Audit Confirmation (SAC) movement. However, progress in this direction has been rather slow.

39. The quality communications (and undoubtedly also the quality of communications) of companies as a whole is still at an immature level. Effective communication of one's excellence is thus not possible and simple means, such as certificates, are chosen instead.

40. The unfounded idea that ISO 9000 standards and quality award criteria represent different levels of breadth, depth, and development concerning TQM is still common. However, they have the same leading principles, objectives, and subject matter. The differences do not thus originate from the systems in question but rather from the ideas entertained by those who utilize them.

41. The principle of 'continuous improvement' has been present in TQM for years. However, in practice it has often been realized only through reactive, separate and limited measures. Focusing quality measures only on negative issues such as defects and nonconformities can be rather depressing in practice. Positive challenges can provide a more stimulating point of departure to innovative development. Considering the issue in a more modern vein, it seems natural to replace continuous improvement with proactive organizational learning. The difference here is more than just semantical.

42. National quality associations or other such organizations have a central role to play in quality improvement at the national level. How can such influence be assessed? In Finland, for example, the number of personnel employed by the Center for Excellence Finland (CEF) has grown considerably. The number of services and operations has also increased. But what is the influence of such an organization on the nationwide development of TQM? Has it achieved anything noteworthy or has it merely made sure that the country has not completely fallen off the bandwagon of international developments (i.e. has CEF acted as a 'representative' of international trends in Finland)? What is the TQM level of CEF itself as measured e.g. with quality award criteria?

43. It has been indisputably demonstrated through company-level studies that one can influence the competitiveness of a company with resolute and appropriate strategies and measures much more effectively than with any other more traditional means.

44. A company is always in an interactive situation with the surrounding society and the multifarious values as well as thinking and action modes of its numerous organizations. Our modern environment is very varied and diverse. The quality culture level of a company is not a result of isolated development. It is always affected decisively by the field, country, and time it is in. Environmental influences have both positive and negative effects on the development of a company. Distinguishing oneself from one's cultural background calls for great efforts.

45. Corporate culture is the basis for TQM realization and for the success of this realization. For example, the potential benefits of ISO 9000 do not originate form the standards themselves but from the way in which a company deploys them, i.e. it is closely entwined with the company's quality culture level. The same applies in the case of implementing quality award criteria. How can the quality culture of a company or a cluster of companies be assessed effectively and utilized in developing TQM into something competitive? (Cf. Professor T.Silén.)

46. The quality culture level of a company is dependent on the societal influences (cf. Professor D. Seghezzi). And vice versa, the quality activities in companies also have an effect on societal developments. This has most probably been the reason for implementing national quality leadership improvement programs in various countries. Examples include Japan, USA, and the EU. Are there any signs that such a movement has already started in our country?

47. An enlightened European company is at least interested in the ideas and efforts of the European Union to promote quality in Europe. However, in reality European quality efforts (e.g. the European Quality Promotion Policy and the European Quality Charter) are generally unfamiliar and are utilized poorly at the level of companies.

48. There have been no systematic assessments of the quality situation of an entire society. National customer satisfaction indices, such as the European Customer Satisfaction Index (ECSI) whose experimental use has been commenced within the EU on the basis of American and Swedish experiences, provide product-specific information. Comprehensive national quality estimates should be combined with competitiveness reviews as it is, after all, superior competitiveness that is sought through TQM. A broad review of the status of TQM in Europe was conducted within the EU a few years back in exactly this way. On the basis of this study, a need for launching a new quality promotion policy was born, the purpose of which is to get rid of the old mode of focusing on certificates towards business performance excellence. How have such reviews proceeded at national levels?

49. A classic presentation of national improvement is provided by Dr. Juran's comparison curves between Japan and the USA. Are there any clear signs that any noticeable change in speed has occurred in the corresponding curves of European countries? It is not enough for improvement to merely occur. Improvement should always be examined in the light of performance excellence, i.e. in relation to relevant references. In this connection, relevant reference points include national objectives (have these been set?), competitor countries, and the most developed countries in the world (excellent comparison targets, so-called Benchmarks, and best practices). One should also take into account the costs of efforts in order to be able to assess which measures are most effective.

50. Peter Senge's model of the three prerequisites for improvement can be applied also when examining national development. These three prerequisites are, a general understanding of the issue, tools and their efficient utilization, as well as a generally effective and innovative leadership atmosphere at the national level (including authorities and corporate leaders as well as other influential persons) to promote the issue.

51. Quality award criteria have evolved into more interesting improvement tools than e.g. the ISO 9000 standards. There are, however, questions surrounding the European Quality Award approach. For example, has the award brought about genuinely superior improvement and learning throughout our entire European society? Will the quality award system and culture be able to evolve in accordance with broad national needs? Has Europe fallen behind its competitors even in developing quality award systematics, especially in comparison with the systematics of the American Malcolm Baldrige approach?

52. Broad national TQM questions for which clear-cut objectives cannot be found include: Have we really started focusing and investing in national quality improvement? In the development of the national quality situation, have we left behind the level of ordinary improvement (improvement on its own) and reached an accelerated stage of improvement? Has the difference between our own country and other relevant reference countries remained the same, decreased, or grown? Where do we stand in global development comparisons? (Europe is apparently still approximately five years behind the USA and Japan due to the distorted certificate-focused quality improvement strategy.) Which reference countries should our TQM development be compared with? What kind of measures and/or indicators should be used in the comparison and how should they be implemented?

53. Developing national TQM is always in the hands of significant national organizations (e.g. the Ministry of Trade and Industry) and company CEOs. Has there been any notable or sufficient input on the part of these actors in the country? Have our company CEOs adopted the role required from them in national TQM?

54. When is the development of national TQM successful? This requires more than improvements in merely some individual results. What is required is an increase in the speed of comprehensive improvement, just as at the level of companies. In addition to results one should also assess - as justified by quality award criteria - the approaches used and their deployment.

55. Regarding national quality development, it would be useful if there were national measures and/or indicators (a national balanced scorecard) available to direct developments. However, this would require a national TQM strategy.

56. Quality implementations in the public sector have a significant impact on the quality of the entire society, including the activities of companies. This has been expressly emphasized within the EU. Lately there has been a considerable degree of awakening to TQM even in the public sector in Finland, at both national and municipal levels. However, it cannot be pointed out that something generally significant has been achieved yet, despite the fact that there are individual good examples. Problem areas can also be found. Public organizations are focusing strongly on applying company-like approaches. For example, severe competing of suppliers has come to play a major role. However, the competing of suppliers no longer belongs to modern company strategies, as a an emphasis on long-term supplier and partnership relations is currently the preferred approach. Companies train themselves long-term strategic partners with the aim of reducing the overall number of suppliers. The public sector is thus also faced with the danger that authorities make quality-related decisions without understanding the current basic ideas of TQM. In this case quality assurance measures may be overemphasized and supplier organizations may even be presented with formal requirements concerning quality systems and their certification.

57. The quality issue is establishing connections with broad societal frameworks. This is the case, for example, in the quality promotion policy of the EU, in which quality is viewed as a part of the European competitiveness strategy which includes productivity and employment. How can positive effects be created for the lifespan of citizens all the way from the cradle to the grave through the quality initiatives of companies and other operators?

58. Companies today function in an increasingly global context. They cannot emphasize national borders in their corporate names and communications anymore. Company-specific boundaries are also starting to fade out and virtual organizations are discussed in earnest. How should quality systematics be realized in this situation? What will the significance of national efforts be like then?

59. It is easy to point out various problems and weaknesses in how we develop our national TQM as well as its development in general. However, competitive improvement should be based specifically on our strengths. Strengths must be found from the development of our entire society. For example, in Finland the greatest opportunities lie in the development of an information society. In this case the quality issue could also rely on strengths found at the basis of such a society, i.e. good training and knowledge (a comprehensive learning system), investments in research and development, a good basic infrastructure and penetration of information and communications technology, and a well organized society. However, one should also always take into account the needs of the actors in a society, consumers and organizations.

60. Although company CEOs play a key role in company-level and national TQM, quality professionals can also find challenges of their own in this connection. What evidence is there for saying that Finnish quality professionals have taken seriously the challenge of national TQM? Have they stuck to considering their professional topics amongst themselves at the levels of concepts, principles (i.e. philosophical), and tools? In itself, this is important too, but in order to bring about development, real endeavors are also needed. Can quality professionals grow in their modes of thinking and acting so that new development global and societal conditions (e.g. information society) can also be taken into account as challenges. How do quality experts understand the needs of company leadership?

61. How a company chooses its own way of proceeding depends always on the company itself, whether this is explicitly planned or not. If a company merely follows other companies or e.g. the teachings of external consultants is also a matter for the company itself to decide. Improvement becomes challenging when one understands that 'how the world is does not imply that this is how the world should be' (cf. Hume's guillotine).

62. Quality issues are always based on personal conceptions and feelings. Even quality leadership represents and requires always opinions. And this is how it should be! What is relevant are the opinions of company leaders and other influential persons at the national level, as they have the best possibilities to be realized. Quality issues are not objective even at a meta-level.

[This text was presented as a conference paper at the quality conference in Tallinn, Estonia in November, 1999]