THE QUALIVERSE - DISCIPLINE
Why is being disciplined so difficult? The results of discipline are amazing. It feels great after you apply discipline, you feel like you accomplished something. It literally makes you a better person. So why are our brains wired to make it hard? I am sure evolutionarily speaking, there is some reason behind it. Lounging certainly allows you to conserve calories and stay alive longer when food is scarce. Adrenaline will get us going when it is absolutely required but being at a heightened state of activity is not sustainable for too long. And binge-watching Real Housewives of New Jersey is just so dang appealing! The draw to being undisciplined is always present.
Another challenge is that motivation to be disciplined does not last long enough to realize the long terms benefits. We see that with dieting and fitness all the time. Gyms by me are PACKED on January 2nd every year with the “New Year, New Me” crowd...and by February 1st, it’s back to normal. It’s very similar with the quality assurance crowd. After a class or seminar, folks are amped to start using checklists and auditing their systems for a few weeks. Soon after the seminar, someone starts to skip a checklist here and there, and nothing catastrophic happens. So, they skip a few more, and a few minor issues pop up, but they are quickly covered up to protect people’s reputations. After several weeks, quality assurance practices are completely thrown out the window.
It takes Buy-In from the Team
It is so easy to give up on something before it becomes a habit, especially if it’s challenging. If quality doesn’t get internalized by the team, if it is not adopted into the culture, it will always feel like “something extra” to do rather than part of the process. On average, it takes people 66 days to form a new habit. That’s a little over two months of grinding on something with discipline before it becomes common practice. If leadership and/or the team is not completely bought in on this quality stuff, two months of grumbling can seem like an eternity. But if they are onboard the quality train, and it becomes part of the culture, incredible benefits are realized.
Achieving True Efficiency
There are some people that think things are easier when you don’t approach AV with discipline. They think if they just wing it, rely on memory and experience, that somehow it will be finished quicker. That is not true. Things get way more difficult without disciplined quality assurance. While it is true that they might end early for one day, the next several are going to be more difficult trying to closeout everything that was missed on the short day. It’s similar to saying the installations are easier when you can leave the displays on the ground instead of mounting them on the wall. Technically, that is true...I guess...but the client expects them to be on the wall. Someone, at some point in time, is going to need to mount them. Neglecting disciplined quality assurance is the same thing. The client expects a completed systems that functions according to the promised performance specifications. Do you want to deliver it as efficiently as possible, or play a long game of Catch-Me-If-You-Can-AV with endless punch lists?
Ensure your integrator follows quality standards
Designers and installers aren’t the only ones that need to approach AV with discipline. The technology owners do as well. In fact, disciplined quality assurance has to start with them. Owners must demand that any AV service provider have a documented quality management process. They must place value on quality in their vendor selection process and stick to selecting “the best value” proposition rather than simply the least expensive. They must insist on inspecting closeout documentation to assure their vendors are walking their quality talk. They must make difficult and specific decisions when it comes to scopes of work to avoid scope creep and poorly defined designs. Accurate, complete, and meaningful user requirements drive the entire industry, and that comes from the top of the AV food chain.
Doing things right the first time
In theory, this whole process should be easy. Technology owners tell the designers what they want. Designers tell installers how to build something that will meet those needs. Installers deploy systems that satisfy all the requirements for the users. It’s a straightforward process with a ton of variables, of course. People think that discipline makes things harder, when in fact, it makes it so much easier, especially with complex deployments. When AV projects are approached with a well-documented quality management system applied with discipline things get done right the first time. It’s always easier to do things right the first time. It does take discipline, but it feels good. The users are happy. It makes the industry better. And yes, although it may be counterintuitive, once it becomes a habit, discipline makes AV much easier.
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