I have a teenager that just passed his Driver’s Test. As he pulls out of our driveway, I see the freedom, the possibilities, the trouble that he could get into. Although a bit poetic and a bit melancholy, it’s also a bit exciting. His father and I cautiously trust him – he’s a good kid, full of promise…..and he knows the boundaries. No phone while driving, no friends in the car, follow the law and safety first.
This is a model of the proper training (hopefully!) and some autonomy, of course, with boundaries. As we apply this model to a Quality System, the Best Practices and Regulations give us the boundaries to ensure that we don’t “crash”. It’s management’s duty to support these boundaries and ensure that staff have the proper training and tools to execute the Quality System. That’s where the autonomy comes in. There is trust between staff levels, between departments and support to share ideas. This develops the System within the boundaries of the Regulations that will make a business successful.
Without autonomy, the best ideas and the details will be lost by those who are not the subject experts. No one likes a dictatorship, especially when the dictated tasks don’t make the best sense for the job that needs to be done. Here’s where it can get exciting….the folks that do the job every day may just have the key to reducing cost or making a better product. They are the ones that know what works best. They may have a redesign idea or a material modification. Without the forum to share and freedom to fail, improvements can be lost.
Without boundaries, everything can go haywire! The goals, regulations and requirements maintain focus on what’s best for everyone in the company. Lack of boundaries or misunderstanding of the regulations can waste time, money and eventually destroy a business. Whether it’s management or staff members that are making the effort, boundaries must be firmly in place to ensure that the goals are met.
Just like my teenager knows the boundaries as he motors on down the road, it’s important to give autonomy and educate about boundaries as a Quality System is implemented.