Motivation in Quality Management

Zero Defects Program:

An illustration of the motivational aspects of quality management could be given by means of the relatively novel ideas generated by the Zero Defects Program and Quality Circles. The philosophy behind Zero Defects is to negate the commonly held view ‘to err is human’. Instead, Zero Defects philosophy believes in total perfection or ‘to do the job right the first time’. This idea first originated in 1961 in the Orlando Division of the Martin Company in USA which manufactured Missiles Systems. It was noticed in this company that failures in the Missiles System were caused, many a time, by small items costing as low as $1.50. The Zero Defects Program reportedly paid rich dividends to this company.

Errors or defects are caused by two factors: lack of knowledge and lack of attention. While the former factor can be taken care of by imparting more knowledge, the latter is an attitudinal problem.

Modern Worker vs. Traditional Worker:

The main theme behind Zero Defects is that the worker should be positively motivated to achieve as much perfection in his job as possible. The modern worker, as opposed to the traditional worker, is alienated with the product i.e. he has little pride in his work. The mass production of goods may be one of the causes responsible for this. Also achievement, enjoyment and responsibility is lacking significantly in modern workers. Thus the modern resorts to complaints regarding his working environment, wages and other things.

Motivating the worker to take pride in his job and do his job as perfectly as possible the first time itself is the heart of the Zero Defects Program.

Means for motivation: Motivation is achieved through various means — posters, publicity, voluntary pledges by workers, visits of customers to the plant, etc. The thrust is on each worker fixing his own defectives-reduction goal by himself (not by the supervisor, although the supervisor may help him in the process). Before such pledges and other motivational techniques, it is necessary to generate a good awareness about the product amongst workers, such as, what is the product, where is it used, etc. It is also necessary to generate an awareness of the performance of the product quality in the past. Such an awareness campaign should precede the actual implementation of the Zero Defects Program.

Organization of the ZD Program: The Zero Defects Program should be a separate activity coordinated probably by an administrator with the help of a number of Zero Defects representatives working in various functional areas and manufacturing departments of the company. The Zero Defects Administrator may report to the Quality Manager of the organization. Top management support is absolutely essential for implementing a radical program such as Zero Defects.

Removal of Errors: For the actual implementation of the Zero Defects Program, in addition to the positive motivation of the worker to do a better job, it is also essential to probe, by various means, the causes of the defects or errors. One such vital components of the Zero Defects Program is the Error Cause Removal campaign. Suggestions are invited from all, in writing, as to how the errors are caused in his/her own work as well as in other areas of work in the company. Of course, not all the causes could be genuine. But the idea here is to encourage all suggestions, because some small things may be causing large errors. The Zero administrator with the help of others might sift through these suggestions and implement only a few, but it is necessary that he give positive recognition to all the workers who have shown interest in the Zero Defect Programs; it could be certificate, it may be some sort of publicity in the company’s magazine, or it may simply be a pat on the back. But such feedback to the workers is important to keep up the tempo of ZD.

Criticism of the ZD Program; The Zero Defects Program is, therefore, basically a motivational program where the worker are made more responsible, more achievement-oriented and more proud of their work. It cannot be a short term program; it has to be long term program. Because of this, some think that interest in ZD may be lost in the long term. Such apprehensions are not warranted, provided (a) the management (including the top management) is itself not de-motivated towards ZD, and (b) provided that all the important precautions regarding implementing the Zero Defect Program are properly taken care of. To explain the latter: if a company has a large component of brought-out parts in its final product, it goes without saying that the Zero Defects Program should be applicable and operating in the vendor organization also. Although many feel that it is conceptually impossible to have zero defects, nevertheless, benefits from ZD in terms of improved quality are substantial in the light of the cost associated with the Zero Defects Program. In many organizations abroad, the benefits-to-cost ratio has been said to be as high as 70 to 1. In addition to the benefits in terms of better quality of product, there are many indirect benefits such as improved industrial relations, better plant utilization, etc. On the whole, the Zero Defects Program, if properly applied can produce results on a long term basis.