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Avoid the mistakes that almost wrecked this manager’s company

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Quality is a word from which few managers can hope to escape for long these days. That's not quality meaning 'goodness, beauty, luxury, brightness or excellence' (to quote guru Philip Crosby), nor even meaning a product free from fault. Fault-free products result from true quality, though: paying unceasing attention to the continuous, measured improvement of all processes – those of service as much as manufacture – and responding fully to feedback from those being served.

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Managers must lead this improvement in more senses than one: for management is a service itself. Unlike the lilies of the field, managers do toil, but they don't do much in the way of spinning. However, their toil is as susceptible to improvement as anybody else's, starting at the straightforward levels (very important in quality work) of on-time performance and responsiveness. Thus one top manager, compiling a list of personal quality criteria, included punctual arrival at meetings and answering his phone within five rings.

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