A Cult(ure) of Quality: 3 Lessons from Leading Brands

You are part of a cult, right?

Before you answer, consider this - a cult is a group of people who are wholeheartedly devoted to a cause. They are not afraid to champion their beliefs through their actions. And they will share their devotion with others. So, what quality department would not want a cult following? 

But getting everyone to put quality-first is not always easy and few quality teams ever find the perfect recipe to master it.

So how can you make your stakeholders devoted to quality? What does the road to success look like? And where can you get advice? 

During the Food Safety Trends Conference, we sought advice from quality professionals at some of the world's largest food manufacturers. Below are 3 tips for a getting cult-like following from quality professionals at some of the world's leading food manufacturers.

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#1 Put the brand first - Compass Group UK & Ireland

Demonstrating the cost of poor quality is essential when getting your team behind you. But what is even more important than revenue over the next few months? Keeping a reputable brand for decades to come. 

Chris Moore from Compass Group UK & Ireland suggests communicating potential reputational damage when discussing the importance of quality. He says:

"Don't always focus on cost when engaging top management with quality. Highlight potential reputational and brand damage."

Every sector has countless examples of when poor quality and compliance management has hit the headlines. Take the horsemeat found in Findus lasagna in 2013 as an example. After more than 50 years as a UK favourite, the European arm of the Findus Group was sold to Nomad Holdings last autumn. Following this, a separate company, Young's Seafood International Holdings, was spun out in the UK, but decided to drop the Findus brand in early 2016 following the damage to the brand caused by the horsemeat scandal. 

Even Findus Crispy Pancakes, who won 'Favourite retro food' in 2009, has been dropped.


But not all quality issues are scandals. Some could be a customer complaint. Take this review of Haribo Sugar Free Gummy Bears on Amazon as an example: 


The review went viral. Over 50,000 people have found the review helpful. It made headline news on The Guardian and Buzzfeed. And it has probably been read hundreds of thousands, if not millions of times. Who would buy Haribo Sugar Free Gummy Bears after reading these reviews? 

Discussing the importance of the brand and the potential damage to the brand due to poor quality will help you ensure quality is top of mind for all of your stakeholders, all of the time. 


#2 Market your quality team - Danone

The words you use, the stories you tell and your routines say a lot about you. The same is true in business. If the quality team are only around when things are going wrong, they will soon be associated with being negative, and they will probably be met with hostility or fear. 

John Carter from Danone suggests promoting quality to the rest of the organisation: 

"Think carefully about the language you use: if your quality team are saying "this is a nightmare" or "we are having a crisis", the rest of the organisation will be quick to associate quality as something negative." 

Carter suggests building a positive culture of quality starts with the messages conveyed by your quality team. 

These articles have ideas for promoting quality in your organisation: 


#3 One single source of truth - SHS Group Drinks Division

Accountability. It helps people know who needs to do what, when and why. Without it, employees will be confused, there will be a lack of coordination among functions, failure to share ideas, slow decision-making - bringing all of your employees and suppliers an extra layer of complexity, stress, conflict, and ultimately, this leads to a poor customer experience. 

Paul Isherwood from SHS Group Drinks Division says a centralised system is key for a culture of quality: 

"If you do not have one single source of truth, you are not doing your job. If you must negotiate capex, this should be on your non-negotiables list." 

A centralised system will ensure all employees in your organisation know who needs to do what and when. Systems such as EQMS are key for improving accountability, exposing the truth, and essentially, a culture of quality. EQMS assigns roles and has an advanced, configurable workflow so individuals and teams know what they need to do and when. And as EQMS has a built-in audit trail, authorised personnel can see who has said what and when. 

Request pricing information for EQMS or watch EQMS webinars


Getting a cult-like following for quality is not for the faint-hearted and it will not happen overnight. But by focusing on brand value as well as cost of poor quality, taking time to promote the quality team internally and consolidating all quality initiatives into 'one single source of truth', you will be one step closer on your journey. 

For more information about using EQMS as your 'single source of truth' watch the webinars here. 

Quality Management Webinars


  Image credits: Danone 

Topics: Implementing EQMS, Quality Culture

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