Since the early 1980's, many US-based companies including those serving the oil industry, have become increasingly aware that a business built on a quality culture will greatly enhance their ability to serve the customer, while leading the way to a technological breakthrough and systematic improvement of the industry itself. The methodology for managing quality has proven similar for most companies of that period in that responsibility for quality was delegated to specialists., both internal and external.
After years of disappointing results, accompanied by internal divisiveness and impacted by a severe downturn in market conditions within our industry, a new direction with respect to quality was launched.
The genesis of this new direction has taken place within the last few years. Generally, it has taken additional time for a critical mass of the management team to gain a better understanding of its role and responsibility with regard to leading the company in a way that focuses on customers. Still, many organizations, steeped in former methods and priorities, have resisted the attempt at unification through the implementation of a company-wide quality process.
This paper examines the struggles of such companies with respect to the evolving customer-focused, quality culture. It highlights why there may be difficulty gaining the commitment of upper and middle managers, and suggests methods of transforming these individuals into quality-driven business leaders. The role of the quality professional in facilitating the transformation process is examined throughout the paper.