We talk a lot about quality. That’s because we think it's important to put quality at the forefront of everything you do. By doing this, you can create a culture of quality in your business.
In software development, a quality culture in your company could mean the difference between a 5-star app that customers love, or a buggy app that falls flat on its face. In any company, a focus on quality can help you achieve your goals fast and deliver the best possible product for your users. But how can you achieve a culture of quality?
Here are 4 ways that you can lead a quality culture in your business, in order to accelerate the growth of your company and motivate your team.
1) Understand the individuals you need to influence
People in non-sales based roles spend nearly 40% of their time influencing, persuading, or convincing others, according to Daniel Pink, author of To Sell Is Human. But how can you expect to effectively influence someone without knowing what drives them? By knowing more about the person you want to influence, you can ensure that the way you communicate appeals to them.
Think about who needs to buy-in to your ideas. Whether that’s your boss, the CEO, or your peers, you need to sit down and answer the following questions for each person:
- What are their goals and objectives?
- What concerns/challenges do they face in their day-to-day role?
- Why would they object to your idea?
- How does your idea impact them and their teams?
Once you have answered these questions, you can use find a way to speak to each individual in a language they respond to. Frame the issue in terms that make them sit up and take notice.
2) Create empathy to increase alignment between teams
Let's face it: it’s hard to achieve perfect alignment in your company. That’s because every team has a different view of what quality is. They think and talk about it differently. So how can you help whole teams with diverse ideas to better understand the reality of their counterparts?
Let's take a look at Ben Horowitz’ Freaky Friday Management Technique. Similarly to this role-reversal film, Ben decided to switch The Head of Sales with the Head of Customer Support and vice versa. By stepping into each other’s shoes, different teams were then able to emphasise with each other's goals. Ben himself called the results ‘miraculous’. Ben said:
“The sales engineering and support organizations worked better together than any other major groups in the company, all thanks to Freaky Friday, perhaps the most insightful management training film ever made. What really happened here was an increase in empathy and understanding of each other’s role. This created a shared perspective on how to reach an end goal.”
We understand this is quite a dramatic action to take. But even if you do not want to implement something so radical as Freaky Friday, there are more simple ways to replicate the results.
Perhaps you could see a huge benefit from cross-functional pairing sessions, where those from different disciplines work together to share ideas and avoid misalignment down the line. For example, developers and designers at Pivotal Labs have a pairing session together for half a day to fix design tweaks, building empathy between departments and keeping teams aligned. This way, confusion is avoided, and your team can better understand each other's idea of quality.
3) Support your quality narrative with evidence
We all need evidence to support our ideas. Without it, it’s almost impossible for people to buy into them. For example, if a company delivered you a sales pitch without any social proof, success stories, or numbers to back up what they were saying, you wouldn’t be likely to invest. But if they provided compelling evidence to support their argument, you might begin to be persuaded.
You’ll need two types of evidence to make sure your idea is convincing.
- Internal Evidence: this is the evidence from the people inside your company. Make sure you collect their thoughts on what they care about, what a culture of quality means for them, and how it can relate to your company.
- External Evidence: This will add credibility to your ideas. Use data from industry studies, presentations from talks, or even books (like Leading Quality) that have anecdotes and examples from companies from the likes of Google, Etsy, New York Times, GitHub, King, HelloFresh.
With this, you should be equipped to influence the decision-makers in your company - with fail-safe evidence to back everything up.
4) Cultivate internal champions
Even a quality leader with a foolproof proposal needs their own personal champions. That’s because if the people around you believe in and share your idea, your idea will have power.
Focus your energy on fostering a relationship with key executives and stakeholders who reciprocate your vision. By finding like-minded people within your company, you can add momentum to your idea, and put some weight behind your quality vision. Anyone in your organisation who sees the importance of making quality a higher priority, therefore, will become a potential ally, and the more you attempt to lead an effort to establish a better culture of quality , the more these allies will make themselves known.
For example, music-giant Spotify has roles in their company dedicated specifically to promoting the importance of quality. These “Quality Advocates” champion putting quality at the centre of everything you do, and if you take a look inside your team, you may find some quality advocates of your own.
Leading a Quality Culture
Creating a culture of quality in your company doesn’t have to be complicated. Follow these four steps to enable you to set out your vision and develop the persuasion techniques you need to achieve it. Research your audience, gather evidence, find your quality champions, and start influencing!
If you would like to learn more about creating a culture of quality in your company, you can read Leading Quality: How Great Leaders Deliver High Quality Software & Accelerate Growth. The book teaches how to influence and align your company’s definition of quality, so that you can deliver the best possible user experience. Leading Quality also includes worksheets that help you to plan and take actionable steps towards creating a quality culture.