Quality in the balance? Competing in the age of black swans and grey rhinos

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Grigg N
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The 21st century has produced both opportunity and crisis. The era of ‘industry 4.0’ has brought global connectivity, cyber-physical systems, Artificial Intelligence and other innovations to production and service delivery systems. We operate now in a context of globalised markets, supply networks, logistics and data where increasingly sophisticated customers demand ever more competitive quality, delivery and price. Consumer wants and needs can be determined at an almost individualised level. Over the same period, events and megatrends including: shifts in corporate and geopolitical power balance; financial system volatility; supply chain fraud and adulteration; cyber-crime, terrorism and piracy; natural disasters; and the devastation brought to many businesses by the COVID pandemic have sharply highlighted the vulnerabilities, threats and risks to those same supply networks. Additionally, narrowing margins, shrinking market share, and cash-strapped governments have created renewed cost pressures. It is not surprising, then, that quality professionals and academics are busily seeking to understand the role that quality management should play in this brave new world where the rules of engagement seem to change every year. In this talk I aim to provide one viewpoint on the answer to this question through firstly deconstructing quality management to its core elements, and then exploring how those elements relate to the current context. I will discuss the relevance and roles of various quality tools and methodologies within this turbulent environment.
Paper accepted for 26th APQO INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE 2021