The Quality Trilogy emphasizes the roles of quality planning, quality control, and quality improvement. Quality planning’s purpose is to provide operators with the ability to produce goods and services that can meet customers’ needs.
In the quality planning stage, an organization must determine who the customers are and what they need, develop the product or service features that meet customers’ needs, develop processes that are able to deliver those products and services, and transfer the plans to the operating forces. If quality planning is deficient, then chronic waste occurs.
Quality control is used to prevent things from getting worse. Quality control is the inspection part of the Quality Trilogy where operators compare actual performance with plans and resolve the differences. Chronic waste should be considered an opportunity for quality improvement, the third element of the Trilogy.
Quality improvement encompasses the improvement of fitness-for-use and error reduction, seeks a new level of performance that is superior to any previous level, and is attained by applying breakthrough thinking.
While up-front quality planning is what organizations should be doing, it is normal for organizations to focus their first quality efforts on quality control. In this aspect of the Quality Trilogy, activities include an inspection to determine percent defective (or first-pass yield) and deviations from quality standards. Activities can then focus on another part of the trilogy, quality improvement, and make it an integral part of daily work for individuals and teams.
Quality planning must be integrated into every aspect of the organization’s work, such as strategic plans; product, service and process designs; operations; and delivery to the customer.