Quality-based management for future-ready corporations serving society and planet

Av N. (Ram) Ramanathan

The five disquieting environmental phenomena of today are bio-extinction, climate warming, lifestyle diseases, pollution and a looming resource scarcity. These are the consequences of human activities like releasing greenhouse gases, discharging effluents, over-using both renewable and non-renewable resources, chemicalising everything, generating harmful wastes, and causing radiation.

Quality has always implied the idea of causing no harm. Nevertheless, products do cause damage – by using fossil energy, releasing chemicals that could impair inter-generational health, by needing incineration, or clogging landfills and water bodies while resisting recycling or bio-degradation. These are ecological and societal problems that cannot be slotted away as ‘externalities’. The definition of quality must now read as fulfilling the needs of customers and society.

Quality-based management has the philosophies, systems and techniques to define problems and find causes with long-term customer orientation and respect for humanity. Reduction of wastes is its bread and butter. Corporations have the responsibility to not harm the earth. The twin lack of incentives or coercive regulations and taxes may get rectified soon. Wise businessmen will do well to turn to quality to mitigate harm and thus be future-ready. This paper elaborates the threats and the ways in which corporations can respond through quality.