Where Science Meets Muse

Five Lessons on Innovation/Quality Inspired by and for Homeland Security

Posted by Plish on December 31, 2009

With the recent near catastrophe in the skies, I propose that the US Government look at its terror security system as a Quality System (i.e. A system that supports high quality, terror free travel.)


Because, whether it realizes it or not, it creates/manufactures a  system for safe travel of  its citizens.  At its core, terror security is about minimizing defects (attacks) and maximizing efficiency (ease of travel).  It’s basically a Quality System.

Therefore, there are certain things that should inherently be done within their quality system (and yours as well!).

1. Don’t wait for disasters to highlight the weak links in your system.  The system that tries to prevent terrorist attacks needs to be under constant improvement and so does your ______________(insert quality, manufacturing, etc.) system.  If there are no disasters, you need to challenge your system before something happens. 

2.  First line people (think Customer Service, Regulatory, Sales)  need to be empowered to make certain decisions on their own as opposed to forwarding information to another agency/group where that information is then sifted through, etc.  The more important something is with regards to safety (product or personal) the less layers there should be in transferring information, not more.

3.  Truly effective systems should become less dependant upon individual human perspectives and opinions as they evolve.  There should be no “key person” dependencies, or even key department dependencies.  Yes, people are able to interpret nebulous information better than many automated systems, but if information is key to quality, you better make darn sure that the right people are interpreting the right information in the right timeframe.

4.  “It is no use to blame the looking glass if your face is awry” – Nikolai Gogol.  Systems are the mirrors of our thoughts, wants and fears.  Yes, you can blame a system but in the end it’s not the system’s fault.  Accept responsibility for constantly improving the system; it can and must be constantly improved. 

That’s where innovation comes in.

Innovation occurs when people are encouraged to change the system they live within, looking at that system with fresh eyes, day after day, after day, after day…

Encourage engagement, encourage innovation.

It’s simple really.

5.  Don’t let politics/political-correctness influence your quality system.  It’s called a ‘system’ for a reason.  If  someone’s first reaction is to protect or blame when there’s a failure, that’s a dead giveaway that your system is becoming politicized.  Don’t freak out about it.  Just fix it and don’t let it happen again.

What do you think about these five points?  What would you add?


One Response to “Five Lessons on Innovation/Quality Inspired by and for Homeland Security”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter : Five Lessons on Innovation/Quality Inspired by and for Homeland Security: http://wp.me/pkQcg-rX […]

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