Culture as a Change Enabler—Transforming Quality and Safety from Reactive to Proactive
The most successful Quality and Safety (QHSE) professionals lead by example, inspiring and empowering those around them to work safer and smarter. They are dedicated to protecting and motivating employees and building a culture of quality and safety that imbues every aspect of the company they represent.
Ron Shah, Global VP of Operations, Quality and Safety, Ocean Insight (a Halma Company), is one such individual. With a career spanning over twenty-five years in quality, engineering, operations, and R&D, Shah is dedicated to the principles of continuous improvement and creating a Lean culture. He has always believed that quality and employee safety go hand in hand, noting that, “Without quality and safety, people cannot work. It’s the foundation of everything we do.”
In 2017, Shah joined Ocean Insight, and one of his first goals was to change the QHSE mindset from reactive to proactive. He instituted several ground-breaking initiatives which have improved quality, safety, and compliance throughout the entire organization.
Every morning, multiple value stream meetings are conducted where operators and technicians have an opportunity to share information about QHSE concerns. By becoming more proactive, the staff is empowered to bring up acute issues before they become chronic.
“It’s not just speaking up that’s important,” said Shah. “If employees don’t see a change, they feel that they’re talking to deaf ears. We put each action with an owner and a timeline, which shows employees that we are not just listening, but are truly making a difference.”
But it doesn’t just stop there. Employees are encouraged to share their ideas for improving quality, safety, systems, and processes.. To increase responsibility and accountability, they are given the authority to come up with a solution and to act upon it.
Shah said, “Instead of sitting around the table brainstorming, we encourage employees to ‘trystorm,’ which means actually doing something.” If it works, the change is made. If it doesn’t work, then we go back to the drawing board.” Employees feel more creative because they have the liberty and freedom to try different solutions, creating a more engaged and empowered workforce.
The impact of digital systems and processes cannot be overstated. With the help of ComplianceQuest, a cloud-based QHSE solution suite natively built and run on the Salesforce platform, Shah was able to create a standardized quality and safety management process. Everything is documented and tracked with assigned tasks. In parallel, whiteboards on the shop floor keep track of key steps with colored magnets. “ComplianceQuest is the ‘system of record’ where everything gets reported and our ‘process’ is implemented on the shop floor,” explained Shah. “We have saved over $250k per year with a one-stop-shop system for all that improves efficiency and effectiveness of our support groups.”
Shah is continually thinking about continuous improvement, and the COVID-19 pandemic was no different. The company’s agile change culture enabled them to quickly adapt, prioritize, and overcome this new challenge. As a result, not one case of COVID was reported.
The cultural shift didn’t happen overnight. It took a dedicated leadership team and liberated staff. Shah, who was instrumental in the changes, said it took around six to nine months to transform the corporate culture.
“What we’ve created shows that the leadership team here will do anything and everything to support our employees and improve service to customers,” concluded Shah. “I’m so proud of my team and honored to be leading the charge.”