Information & Training. | TQM. Total Quality Management.

Quality Culture.

What is organizational culture? What is a Quality Culture? There are many definitions of culture, one possible definition is “the way things are done around here” (Deal and Kennedy), which includes the “folklore, ceremony, symbols and rituals” within an organization. An alternate definition of culture could be the “basic values, ideologies and assumptions which guide our individual and business behaviour – evident in stories, ritual, language, jargon, office decoration, layout, prevailing mode of dress among staff”. (Wilson and Rosenfelt).

Culture exists within every organization, it is a very powerful influencing force within every organization and can have profound positive or negative performance effects. Clearly culture is an intangible, which makes it difficult to comprehend, let along measure or influence. However, due to the critical impact culture can have on performance, objectives and strategy achievement, it is imperative that culture is considered, actions are taken to identify a preferred corporate culture and processes are implemented to continually shape and improve cultural performance.


What is the culture within your organization?

Ceremonies, what do they affirm?

Stories you hear more than once? What is the subtext of such stories?

What is the physical impressions given by the organization? What do they say about values?


“Deal and Kennedy” proposed a model for culture based on the risk environment versus the rate of feedback received. For example, consider individuals working in oil exploration. There are very significant investment decisions which entail relatively high levels of risk taking, combined with long term feedback, i.e. it may be some years before the final results from a process of exploring a region are received. The rewards and career progression of individuals working in such an industry, making major long term decisions will be impacted by the results achieved.  Compare such a work environment to a government department, where there is 100% job security, all significant decision making may be delegated upwards, career path is determined by seniority versus ability and by the absence of any controversy. Risk taking is low, feedback on performance may be slow to non-existent. In such an environment, a culture may develop with resists change, a reluctance to make decisions will be seen, and there may be a refusal to even consider customer expectations.

The level of risk and the rate of feedback, will clearly influence the actions of individuals, which will drive specific norms of the culture within an organization.

Quality Culture

Continuous improvement utilizing Analytical Techniques.
5 why’s analysis
Process Flow Diagrams/Flowcharts/Process Mapping
Check sheets /Check Lists
Run charts
Scatter Diagrams/Scatter Plot
Cause and Effect/Fishbone/Ishikawa Diagrams
Identifying sources & causes of variation
Control/Shewart Charts/DPU Charts
Cpk and Ppk Analysis
Pareto Analysis
Bottleneck Analysis
Etc. Etc.
Information & Training presentation   >>>


Organizational culture.

Consider your own organization, look at the various departments, the organization as a whole, etc.. Are there different cultures?

Is the culture within Finance, different to that of a Research & Development or Marketing function.

You would not expect risk taking in a Finance department, but in an R&D group or a Marketing group, risk may be a necessary requirement. Therefore, a different culture may need to be fostered.

How would you describe the “culture” within the following groups (in your organization?), per the “Deal and Kennedy” model:



Departments – Finance/Sales


Groups/teams – formal/informal



Corporate, organizational and functional level cultures.

Corporate culture can seek to be homogeneous where the culture acts as a guide to managers. Senior management may seek to define an “ideal” corporate culture, and implement a range of programs to embed such a culture. The objective of the corporate culture will be to support the achievement of the corporate objectives. Corporate cultures will often reference ethical standards, environmental concerns, respect for peers in day to day operations, etc.. Many corporate cultures seek to create a feeling of well-being and positivity towards the organization as a whole.

At a lower level, an organizational culture may have a diversity that reflects the range of people within the organization and the more specific organization objectives. Diversity within an organization can be an asset, offering a diverse approach to problem solving, generation of novel solutions. etc..

As you progress through an organization, getting into specific functional departments or functions groups, where objectives get more specifically and homogeneously defined, the prevailing cultures will be influenced by the more homogeneous nature of the personnel, the specific nature of the objectives, as referenced by Deal and Kennedy the level of risk versus the speed of feedback, etc..

The challenge for large organizations, is to influence the functional cultures, so that they align with the higher level corporate cultures. For example, in a research and development function, risk taking may be expected, however, we want to ensure that all risks are taken in an open, honest, ethical manner, where there is a respect for co-workers, the community and the environment.


So what does culture mean?

Culture is real within an organization.

Culture is pervasive and will influence actions.

Culture makes a difference, it can help or hinder communication, problem solving, the level of co-operation between co-workers.

Individuals fit into certain cultures easier than into others. Recruitment and staff development policies and practices need to consider individual fit versus organizational requirements.

Organizations which seek homogeneity in cultural fit, run the risk of developing “group think” approaches to problems and strategy development and may increasingly stray from customer understanding. Diversity is necessary in thinking and culture, therefore conversely to the previous paragraph, recruitment and staff development, may need to actively seek individuals who will challenge the prevailing culture.

Culture is multifaceted, it is intangible, is hard to describe, can be difficult to identify.



Is it possible to change the culture within an organization?

Culture is complex, multifaceted. It will not be possible to change culture overnight, however actions can be taken to influence and direct the culture within an organization. A first step is to clearly define the type of culture that the organization is seeking to promote.

Senior management when seeking to influence culture need to be cognizant of the difficulty in changing peoples values and ideologies. Is it ever possible to change the value perception of an individual?

When seeking to establish a specific approved type of culture, the result can be to generate cynicism, to create a “culture of deception” as employees “play the game”.

Forcing a specific culture can create a divide between line staff and management, as management promote a particular culture, which is not bought into by line staff.

Influencing and building a preferred culture needs to be long term strategy, which is sustained and lived by all within the organization.



Influencing and encouraging a specific corporate quality culture.

At the highest level, how can an organization encourage a certain culture? There are a range of approaches to help influence culture:

Corporate communications, for example the mission and vision statements, regular newsletters, reports.

Appraisal and reward systems which reward certain behaviors.

Role modelling, for example, what is seen as good news, what are the priorities.

Recruiting and promoting individuals that fit with a preferred culture.

Changing organizational structure, for example, reducing the levels of management and decision making to promote a more open and empowered organizational culture


A “Quality Culture”.

A quality culture is an organizational value system that results in an environment that is conducive to the establishment and continual improvement of quality.  It consists of values, traditions, procedures and expectations that promote quality.


How do you recognize an organization with a quality culture?

It is actually easier to recognize a quality culture that to define one.

Organizations with a quality culture, regardless of the products or services they provide, share a number of common characteristics.


How to recognize a quality culture.

Behaviour matches slogans.

Customer input is actively sought and used to continually improve quality.

Employees are both involved and empowered.

Work is done in teams.

Executive-level managers are both committed and involved; responsibility for quality is NOT delegated.

Sufficient resources are made available where and when they are needed to ensure the continuous improvement of quality.

Education and training are provided to ensure that employees at all levels have the knowledge and skills needed to continuously improve quality.

Reward and promotion systems are based on contributions to the continual improvement of quality.

Fellow employees are viewed as internal customers.

Suppliers are treated as partners.


How are organizational cultures created?

Many factors contribute to the creation of an organization’s culture, some are listed below:

The value systems of executive-level decision makers.

How managers treat employees.

How employees interact on a personal basis.

What management expect of employees.

What employees expect of management.

The stories passed along from employee to employee in the establishment and perpetuation of the organization’s culture.


TQM Tools and Techniques Full Details

Quality Improvement Techniques

Information & Training. | Total Quality Management Tools and Techniques …

        • Continuous improvement utilizing Analytical Techniques.
        • Brainstorming
        • 5 why’s analysis
        • Process Flow Diagrams/Flowcharts/Process Mapping
        • Check sheets /Check Lists
        • Run charts
        • Histograms
        • Scatter Diagrams/Scatter Plot
        • Cause and Effect/Fishbone/Ishikawa Diagrams
        • Identifying sources & causes of variation
        • Control/Shewart Charts/DPU Charts
        • Cpk and Ppk Analysis
        • Pareto Analysis
        • Bottleneck Analysis
        • Benchmarking
        • FMEA
        • FTA
        • HAZOP
        • SIPOC
        • Etc. Etc.
        • Information & Training presentation   >>>