A Publication of WTVP

As director of quality for Illinois CancerCare, I am often asked, “Is quality something that an organization just has, or is it created?”

Good question. The answer, while there are varying factors, is that it is unlikely to just happen. Quality is created, nurtured and cultivated within an organization in order for it to be sustainable.

A Culture of Quality

Organizations that choose to embed a culture of quality must first understand that to change a culture, employees must:

When moving toward a culture that “breathes” quality, the first critical step is to determine what “quality” means for your organization. Can you intertwine what quality means with your mission statement or with your core values? Or does your definition of quality seem to contradict the reason your organization exists?
The next step is to look at the mission statement and core values. What an organization cares about most should be there. The questions to ask when reviewing both are:

If the answer is “no” to any of those questions, you must begin by discussing these with your employees to get them on the right page with the purpose of the organization. If the mission statement is too long, your employees will not be able to recite it or begin to instill it into their thinking.

Essential Steps

  1. Determine what quality means for your organization.
  2. Analyze your mission statement and core values.
  3. Train your employees.
  4. Task employees with the responsibility of showing behavior that aligns with the quality program.

Employees must also understand what the people who run the organization find to be most important via the core values, and they need to believe that those are the values they see funneling from the top down.

The third step is to provide adequate training for all employees. You cannot create a culture of quality without first giving all of your staff the same information. Do not allow them to receive it for the first time second-hand. One of my favorite statements is, If you fail to give it to them and they hear it somewhere else, by the time they think they understand it, it will be the complete opposite of what you said!

Provide an inviting atmosphere that will help employees understand the importance of quality, the implementation of quality tools and the importance of sustainability for quality processes.

If you are going to implement 6 Sigma, for example, create an awareness program and make it mandatory for all employees. The program should provide an overview of the methodology and allow time for employees to ask questions to help them get a better grasp on the forthcoming change. At first, it may not be received well by all, but with enough training and evidenced outcomes, your employees will eventually adapt.

The final step in creating a quality culture is to task your employees with the responsibility of showing behavior that falls in alignment with the quality program. There are many ways employees can show engagement with your new quality program. As a department or organization leader, ask them to participate on a process improvement team or focus group, or give them the opportunity to make comments regarding a current project or problem.

In healthcare, your best employees generally have a compassionate spirit that drives them to achieve great performance. These are the types of employees that you want in your organization.
You want your employees to show quality behavior by:


At Illinois CancerCare, our values are:

The Quality Department works with other departments to make sure that: