Ecosystems are not new – the forest, for example, shows that they are something natural and function well. Ultimately, it makes sense to organize quality management in an ecosystem as well. I see such an ecosystem for quality as an ideal that is already fulfilled in its beginnings: because at all the points in the supply network where there is a relationship structure between different business partners, the fundamental principles of an ecosystem for quality already come into play. It is based on honesty, trust and good cooperation. Just as a single tree cannot form an entire forest, a single company alone will not produce quality that is crowned with success. An autonomous understanding of quality does not lead to the desired result – rather, we are dependent on good business relationships. To get closer to the ideal state, it is therefore necessary to promote collaboration. Quality management software that maps workflows digitally and across companies provides the framework for this.
Quality is not an isolated discipline. With regard to the organization of a company, there can therefore only be one conclusion: quality is always part of the overall management system. This is how companies define the way they organize themselves in their structures in order to act systemically – and to generate quality. In management systems, we describe the conditions for subsequent perfect customer service, create good conditions for sustainable innovations as well as best products, and define how we want to work with our partners. For this reason, I see management systems as a common basis for an ecosystem for quality.
The management system is the responsibility of the highest level, but is supported by every employee. Thus, it starts with personal readiness and ultimately has a cross-company effect. Every company can make a positive contribution to the emergence of the ecosystem for quality by anchoring quality as a central value and providing each stakeholder with guiding principles at the strategic and operational levels that pursue the overarching goal. But: companies that have not yet anchored quality in a management system today are also making their contribution. If they use QM software, they are taking a first step in the direction of a management system with the operational successes it generates – because this is how analog data becomes digital, quality processes become more mature and collaboration becomes easier.
Companies are free in their decisions: where they go, what they expect and what contribution they make to society. This is also reflected in the selection of suppliers and customers. Suppliers should be audited for their own principles before working with them. Customers who completely contradict one’s own principles can also become a problem.
An ecosystem for quality can positively influence the economy. Ultimately, it is all a question of culture: who is prepared to work fairly, transparently and in partnership? If companies decide to work transparently and learn from possible mistakes together with their business partners, this could result in economic success for everyone involved. Perhaps this can even be seen as an idea of the Western world that gives us a head start: European companies operating in an ecosystem for quality can outpace international competitors with different cultural ideas. Together, we can find a form of collaboration that allows us to learn faster and better. The more willing companies are to learn and the more opportunity for learning is created, the more plausible it is that companies will develop a high speed to identify problems and find solutions for them.
Changing the culture of failure is the prerequisite for living the idea of the ecosystem for quality. We all have to learn to accept failures and see them as something good from which we will still learn. Failures are a very complex field, which Benedikt Sommerhoff describes very well in his article “Bad Failurs, Good Faliures – What Kind of Failure Culture Would You Like?”. Too often, the focus is placed on failures themselves; but not on the decisions that led to the respective failures. One thing above all is important for the correct handling of a management system: to decide who decides. And this should not necessarily be the persons on the highest hierarchical level, but those with the competence required for the respective decision. At this point, it can only be said once again: everyone is responsible for the management system – from employees to management.
The time has come: to stop carrying on as before and also to focus on long-term rather than short-term success in our actions. If you look at the news reports that reach us every day from all over the world, you quickly realize that mankind is sometimes really damaging – to the detriment of others or even the environment. You can ignore the actions of other people and companies, but you can also start to take things into your own hands.
At Babtec, we want to make our contribution and offer you a digital framework with our QM software that, in addition to mapping your quality processes, also enables networking with your business partners. In this way, we want to strengthen your relationships with each other in the sense of an ecosystem for quality. Who do you think will be more successful? Companies that get involved and work together in a spirit of trust, or those that continue to focus only on their own personal advantage and ignore their environment in the process?