God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference. (Serenity Prayer, Reinhold Niebuhr)

Quality Maturity Levels

Level 1

Dysfunctional System

Level 2

Awakening System

Level 3

Developing System

Level 4

Maturing System

Level 5

World-Class System

Economy of scale focus with long runs preferred. Time-consuming change-overs are the norm. The customers' voice is rarely heard, and then only at the top. Quality steering committee has been formed; quality systems are assessed; quality initiatives are planned. A customer focus is a goal. Tested practices are deployed to all major areas of the factory. Customer involvement is sought. Seeks out and learns about best practices. Adapts improved practices for all areas. Customers, suppliers, and employees are integrated into the systems. Retaining satisfied customers is key. Plant uses single-piece flow with cellular techniques. Improved throughput achieved through reduction of bottlenecks.
Rigid plant layout; nonintegrated systems, erratic workflow prelavent. Buffer stock everywhere. All jobs are rush. Firefighting is the norm. Applicable lean management practices have been identified. Training is being conducted. Flexible production layouts and cells are introduced. Cleanliness and neatness of individual work areas is stressed. Production system allows short runs, greater product mix, speedy introduction of new products, and shorter cycle times. Plant layout is agile and clean. Workers are self-inspecting in their work. Lean manufacturing tools and techniques are liberally applied.
Machinery runs at maximum speed without regard for its life or performance quality. Workplace is unorganized and unclean. A small project is under way to implement and test improved quality management practices. Pull-type production system under test in one area. Employee qualification system is in place. Operating infromation is provided immediately with computerized displays. Errors are prevented with mistake proofing devices. Preventative maintenance ensures availability and optimizes quality, efficiency, and life cycle cost.
No teamwork. Fiefdoms fiercely quarded from encroachment by other functions. No linkage between any overall strategy and production scheduling. Bottlenecks and non-value-added functions in process flow are being examined. An equipment maintenance program is under development. Cross-functional teams promote adherence to standards and ensure continuous improvement. Teams, some self-managed, aid adherence to high standards, the focus on customers, and continual improvement. Management is personally and visibly involved in continual improvement. Quality of information and decision making at all levels is exemplary.
Management by command. Poor workforce commitment and involvement. A cross-functional team is being initiated to work on cycle-time reduction. Systems are implemented to provide data for performance measurement and improvement. An effective strategic planning process is instituted. All employees are highly motivated, involved, and empowered.
Communication is one-way (downward) with few or no feedback loops. Weekly production review meetings are held, chaired by the VP of manufacturing.   Overall strategy is linked to production planning and process improvement. Supplier relations are based on collaborative communication and partnerships.
Adversarial supplier relationships focus on price. A supplier qualification system approach is under study. A supplier certification program is in place. Plant benchmarked by others in industry. Plant benchmarked by others outside industry.
Customers frequently get poor quality and delivery. Overall performance remains below industry norm. Overall performance is about equal to industry norms. Performance is above industry norm. Performance is world-class.



Westcott (2006), The Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence Handbook, 3rd Edition. ASQ Press.