Personal Quality Initiative – PQI

We all are “work in progress” and there is always room for improvement, there is always room to work on our incompetence, transform them into competence and add the newly acquired competence in the list of strengths in our personality inventory.

We all have our incompetencies in various areas, the one’s we are aware of are called conscious incompetencies and the one’s we are not aware of are called unconscious incompetencies. The incompetence could be related to our personal life, professional life, health, family or it could be behavioral. These incompetencies not only hamper our growth and development in their respective areas, but also affect other aspects of our life. As Dr Stephen Covey says in his famous book “Seven Habits of highly effective people” it is mandatory to score private victory before public victory, i.e., one has to fix issues that are there at personal or family levels to have a sustained growth and real victory professionally and socially. Once we are aware about them and would like them to be fixed, we need to take the initiative to work on a plan, we need to take a decision to do the desired things, till the incompetence, non-conformance or defect is corrected. This initiative is called Personal Quality Initiative or PQI. I am grateful to my previous organization NIIT for giving me an insight and desired guidance in this direction.

Personal Quality Initiative (PQI) is a tool which helps you to inculcate some new habits or improve upon some of the tasks that you perform regularly. To start with you need to identify the various parameters which you will use as measurement criteria to improve your habit.

“A parameter is defined as the framing of few good practices that you would like to acquire and some ineffective practices that you would like to cast off in your personal and professional life.” There could be many ineffective practices which you would like to cast off, but one at a time is always a good strategy. To identify which practice should be fixed on priority can be identified using a tool called Pareto analysis supplemented with “Five whys” – an iterative interrogative technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem. The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a defect or problem by repeating the question “Why?” Each answer forms the basis of the next question.

Adhere to the following steps that should be followed as an approach to self- improvement:
1. Identify Defect: The first step towards working on the PQI is identifying the area and then issue of concern, something you are aware of or you are made aware of by someone else, so you have a certain conscious incompetence to work on. This could be related to

a. Self: like behavior and habits, such as leaving your workplace untidy, getting late to office consistently, being short tempered.

b. Health: You have an unhealthy lifestyle, don’t do exercise or Yog daily, eat too much or skip lunch or breakfast etc.

c. Social: You don’t get along with people easily; have regular fights or any other issue which makes you unpopular or incompatible in social milieu.

2.Set up Measurement: Measurement is necessary to gauge correction or improvement, make a checklist to see your count of defects. For example if you have a habit of reporting late to work, make a check sheet and mark every defect, i.e. every time you don’t reach on time. Monitor it week wise and try reducing the defects per week.

3.Identify the possible cause: List all possible causes which you think are the reason for the defect, a decision making tool called Ishikawa diagram or fishbone diagram could be an excellent tool for the purpose.

4.Identify the root cause: It’s important to find out the root cause of the defect that is occurring consistently or frequently. Identification and rectification of the cause is imminent for correcting the defect.

5.Enumerate possible solutions: write down all the possible solutions without evaluating, without criticizing, write them down even if they sound impractical or ridiculous.

6.Take corrective measure: Choose one of the solutions which you think might solve the problem or most part of the problem. You should be conscious of your span of effect and span of control. The solutions opted should be under your span of control, as it would be very difficult to control or govern other’s behavior or actions.

7. Evaluate and Follow Up: You should periodically evaluate the progress of correction of defects by monitoring the check sheet. It’s a good idea to have a graphical representation displayed on your table or pin board. It works as good motivating and reminding factor to stay on course of defect elimination.

PQI will work only if the measurement is done regularly at the predefined interval. It is very easy because you will monitor yourself and it’s also very difficult because you will monitor yourself.
The measurement should continue for at least 15 more days after the defect ceased to exist. System of quality is zero defects hence there is no scope for 2% or 1% error. Either quality exists or it doesn’t.
So, start your journey from unconscious/conscious incompetence to conscious competence and enrich your personality inventory.

Sample PQI Check sheet for your reference –

Contributed by
Mr. K.K. Bajpai
Associate Professor
SMS Varanasi


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