Focus on Quality Strategy

The focus on quality has been a long-standing concern for artisans and anyone producing and using a product, including intangible products such as electronic information (i.e., video, audio, and written/graphic presentations). The customer, through the comparison of a perceived actual product against the perceived intended product (expectations), against the perception of the competitor's product, determines the quality (Beach, 2006). Ensure that the change initiative is presented and perceived as a quality market that changes as a quality endeavor.

The illusion of the quality dynamic appears to be the organization's desire to create the best product or service. However, the real driving force is the customer's perception of the product. The client's demand for a perceived product is the measure against which the organization strives to achieve quality; the client's perception of expectations is the measure of quality. If the customer thinks something is a quality product, the perception translates into a quality product. Any marketing campaign uses the dynamic of perception (i.e., the idea of quality) as the catalyst to convince the customer that an image or idea is quality.

Beach (2006) describes the Quality Improvement Strategy (QIS) as the measure of the perceptions through a questionnaire to capture the above relationship's data in the quantifiable form to allow for statistical analysis of the quality dynamic. The satisfaction of the customer is the core issue under discussion. If the customer is satisfied with a product or service, then the organization has achieved quality. Naturally, the competition between organizations to provide demonstrable improvements and added features to products to win customer satisfaction is constant.

The quality strategy is the acknowledged relationship between the customer's perception of a product or service, against the actual product or service, against the competition's perceived product. The perception is the measuring stick, and the point at which the dissatisfaction of the product and the competitor's product come together is the basis for change (Beach, 2006). Transformative change occurs to address the lack of quality. However, in reality, it is the quest to achieve a balance between perceptions and products. A Seinfeld episode discussed this relationship when Kramer started working at an advertising agency developing an ad campaign, and he stated they sell the sizzle, not the steak. The perception of the steak was at issue, not the actual steak product. The transformative change for an organization seeks to make the necessary modifications to improve the product's perceived quality.

There are also practical manufacturing issues that involve change, such as producing the perceived quality product for the lowest cost. Achieving the balance between cost-effective resources, assembly, and marketing is just as important as the product's image. A Cadillac is a well-made vehicle, and the perception tends to equate to one of quality. However, General Motors must produce the vehicle economically if it is to achieve viability as a marketable product. The balance between product perception and cost- effective creation is the basis for typical transformative initiatives at organizations; the product or service can be anything that is of value to a customer. Even though the discussion has focused on physical items, the risk-based services provided by internal company departments are the same. Perception is often referred to as reality; people believe the perception as reality.

Search Conferences Strategy

The search conference strategy to transformational change is based on a whole systems approach to addressing a systemic, strategic change initiative through large-scale employee involvement in identifying and planning the modification (Stone, 1996). The advantage of using this approach to plan a change within an organization is the involvement of a vast number of people who know the organization; the employees involved are more than just senior leaders. The change initiatives coming out of a search conference may include any modification; identifying the need and scope of the change is fundamental to understanding what is required to improve the organization. Stone (1996) indicated the use of the future search conference to identify and plan transformational change at a federal agency (i.e., U. S. Department of Agriculture) that involved holistic change efforts, including the vision of the change and how to approach the initiative.

Perhaps one of the most critical aspects of this strategy is the understanding that transformative change throughout the organization requires a fundamental shift in the values, focus, and culture of the organization (Stone, 1996). The approach indicated by Stone (1996) for the federal agency involved five necessary components in achieving the level of transformative change desired for systemic influences. The five elements are a clear vision of the outcome, the consensus, and commitment of a majority number of organizational stakeholders (i.e., internal and external) actively seeking to achieve the change and outcome, and the acknowledgment and empowerment of the entire workforce to achieve the change (Stone, 1996). Also, the alignment and compatibility of the systems and processes with the change vision are crucial. The initiative's implementation process must continuously be measured against the organization's real-time status (Stone, 1996).

The search conference strategy involves all participants' open and honest involvement to achieve a holistic approach to viewing organizational needs. The participants must possess a good knowledge of the organization's systems and processes, including internal and external stakeholder demands upon the organization. Developing a strategic, transformative change initiative is achieved when the entire organization is involved, supportive, and moving forward with a unified vision of the expected outcome.

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