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CQI Competency Framework: Improvement

07 July 2015
The third part of the Competency Framework is big challenge for all businesses. But embedding culture of improvement in your organisation could be the key to your success. 

By Simon Feary, CEO of the Chartered Quality Institute.

The third part of the Competency Framework is big challenge for all businesses. But embedding culture of improvement in your organisation could be the key to your success. 

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”

This famous quote by Darwin is true not only of living organisms but also of organisations – just ask Kodak or Woolworths. They were unable to adapt for their respective audiences, resulting in both businesses no longer having a presence on UK high streets today.
At the most fundamental level, the purpose of improvement is the drive to meet or exceed stakeholders’ requirements.
At the CQI we understand that quality professionals are at the heart of continual improvement for organisations. It is their responsibility to ensure an effective system of governance is in place and that processes and outputs are subject to independent, effective process and product assurance. This results in decision-making based on objective evidence.


Implementing a culture of objective evaluation and improvement is necessary at all levels within the organisation: at the product/service delivery level, within each function, and at the organisation level. In most organisations the capability and performance of a particular function, for example engineering, HR or IT, is invested in the most senior function manager.

This is the group that primarily defines capability and performance within the business, not only as a result of the people they recruit, the policies and processes they establish and the investments they decide to make in tools and technologies, but also by the culture and values they establish in how people approach their work.
Quality professionals can make a difference by developing and facilitating effective process and product assurance. The result would be a culture where decision making is based on objective evidence. They must work with the rest of the organisation to ensure measures are appropriately reviewed and that actions are taken to continuously improve performance.

Very often the quality professional is well placed to support improvement activities, whether through the adoption of suitable tools and techniques such as root cause analysis, use of EFQM, Six Sigma, Lean, statistical process control or by process re-engineering.


Implementing this part of the framework is a challenge but not impossible. By understanding that change is a very simple process, achieved by acting on no more than four variables:

  • People
  • Policies and Processes
  • Tools and Technologies
  • Culture and Values

However, too often we fail to understand the dynamics of change and focus our attention on the wrong variables. Generally speaking, it is easier to change how things are done than it is to change the capability of the people doing them.
Quality professionals should live and breathe the importance of gathering insight and objective evaluation. Auditing is a key part of our remit and non-conformance management and root cause analysis has always been the quality professional’s territory – it’s at the heart of identifying how to improve things in order to prevent any reoccurrence of problems.
The challenge to the profession is to work in a holistic way, recognising the importance of objective evaluation and improvement not only at the product or service delivery level but also for the organisation as a whole.
The role of business improvement is one of the most challenging – there is always more to be done and always many obstacles to overcome. The secret is to reflect on where you were and how far you have travelled.
Providing feedback on progress will not only promote patience and good will during times of change, but also help companies to meet requirements of the international standard for business quality management systems (ISO 9001). The standard specifies that top management must share the effectiveness of its’ quality management system with the organisation through established communication channels.

Find out about the ISO 9001 transition and keep up to date with changes to the standard.

To find out how the CQI Competency Framework can support your quality staff visit the CQI.org/Competency-Framework.