I have been in discussions many times with businessmen and advisers about whether firms should concentrate on their productivity or their quality – which has the biggest impact on success.
Of course the quick answer is “Both” – they are not mutually exclusive!
But I remember listening to my colleague (and former president of WCPS) Tor Dahl who used to suggest that productivity initiatives release energy and innovation (they unfreeze the organisation); quality initiatives standardise systems and processes to ‘lock in’ quality (and they freeze the organisation). Another way of putting it is that quality initiatives help cement the gains realised by a productivity initiative.
So, we do need them both – but not necessarily sat the same time. There seems to be a natural sequence of productivity-quality-productivity-quality.