Originally by H. James Harrington

Back in 1986 I documented my list of 13 fundamental truths that applied to all organizations. I ran across these statements recently when I was looking for some comments made by a past IBM president that I wanted to use in a new book I am writing. As I thought back over the past 25 years, I realized that as quality professionals, we have spearheaded a lot of new approaches: total quality management (TQM), ISO 9001, ISO 14000, lean, Six Sigma, business process improvement, process re-engineering, knowledge management, organizational change management, theory of constraints, and many more. But to my surprise, there has still been no change in the fundamental truths I wrote about 25 years ago. Even the latest trend, innovation, was incorporated in the fifth truth.

The more things change,

the more they stay the same.


The following are the 13 fundamental truths as I defined then 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 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 more improvement 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 or her suppliers understand what are needed and not ask for things that won’t be used.

My questions to you are:
• What progress have you made to make the 13 fundamental truths part of your lifestyle and behavioral patterns?
• What have you done to embed these truths into the culture and dailybehavioral patterns of the organization you are in?
• Can and should you have done more?
• We have had 25 years and more to make it happen. Did we succeed?


H. James Harrington CEO

Harrington Institute

Phone: 1-408-358-2476


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