Quality for a sustainable future

av Willy W. Vandenbrande

There is a growing number of organisations working on sustainable development and there is no lack of events organised or papers published on the subject. These activities are related to high level policies that appeal to political leaders. As far as businesses are concerned the target group mainly consists of large and globally active organisations.

Very often small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are not involved, although they form the vast majority of companies.

Quality management has the methods and the tools to bring sustainability to the SME level, facilitating action and leading to tangible results for the organisation. We present a general framework that allows any SME to take steps in sustainability by using quality management methods. An implementation path is given, related to the current maturity level of the company. This allows the sustainability movement to gain momentum and be spread out much more widely. But as many planetary problems are bringing us dangerously close to tipping points (global warming, mass extinction of species, …) this may not be enough.

A new definition of sustainability is presented that can be used as a starting point for developing quality based economic and social systems.