13 fundamental truths
Dr Jim Harrington on lecture tour of China with Dr Robin Mann (co-founder BPIR.com) and Xiaofen Tang, President of Shanghai Association of Quality.

This blog was contributed by Dr James Harrington, one of the world’s leading thinkers on quality and business management. Even in his 80’s Jim continues to have more energy and enthusiasm than most – exploring new fields related to business improvement and publishing at least one book a year.

13 Fundamental Truths

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Back in 1986 I documented a list of 13 fundamental truths that applied to all organizations. I ran across these statements when I was looking for some comments made by a past IBM president which I wanted to use in a new book I am writing.  As I thought back over the past 25 years, I realized I had seen a lot of changes. As quality professionals, we have driven a lot of new approaches in the past 25 years; TQM, ISO 9000, ISO 14000, Lean, Six Sigma, Business Process Improvement, Process Reengineering, Knowledge Management, Organizational Change Management, Theory of Constraints, and many more just to mention a few-.  But to my surprise, there has still been no change in the fundamental truths that I wrote 25 years ago.  Even the latest fad – Innovation – was incorporated in the fifth truth. My questions to you are:
  • What progress have you made to make the thirteen fundamental truths part of your lifestyle and behavioral patterns?
  • What have you done to instill these truths into others?
  • We have had 25 years and more to make it happen.  Did we succeed?
  • What have you done to embed these truths into the culture and daily behavioral patterns of the organization you are in?
  • Can and should you have done more?

The following are the Thirteen Fundamental Truths as defined in 1986:

  1. All organizations, companies, divisions, sections, departments, units, teams and projects should have a documented mission that links them into a chain that holds the organization together, keeping it directed at pulling in all of the potential customers that they can handle.
  2. All processes should have a defined customer whose needs and expectations are understood and are being met.
  3. No process is so good that it can’t be improved although some processes need improvement more than others.
  4. There is always a better way of doing everything.
  5. The greatest competitive advantage is knowledge that leads to innovation.
  6. People who understand why they do something do it better and faster.
  7. When something gets measured, it gets attention
  8. There is a direct correlation between internal customer satisfaction and external customer satisfaction.
  9. Every organization has an obligation to provide value to the people that invest their hard-earned money and time into the organization.
  10. Expending resources related to the organization’s employees is an investment, not a cost.
  11. The elimination of waste is everyone’s job.
  12. Management needs to set the example and walk the talk.
  13. Each individual needs to be sure that his/her suppliers understand what are needed and not ask for things that won’t be used.

H. James Harrington
CEO Harrington Institute

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