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Top 3 challenges for tomorrow’s Quality Leaders

The role of quality leaders, as well as quality, is expanding and includes thinking strategically, solving problems, implementing improvements, and driving change throughout the organization. Quality leadership also requires managing challenges and anticipating what lies ahead regarding quality management best practices and global economic impacts. Based on our analysis, here are our top three most critical challenges quality leaders must face in the near future.

1. Managing increasing regulatory pressures

Quality leaders and their organizations commonly deal with heavy regulations in manufacturing and other highly competitive industries. This is particularly relevant in your role as the compliance specialist, as you must stay updated with applicable industry regulations and standards, understand how they impact various aspects of your business, and translate these requirements into actionable processes.

For example, the Code of Federal Regulations in the US covers industries ranging from healthcare, food & drugs, transportation, labor & employment, energy, financial services and technology. Every year, thousands of regulations are new or updated. For example, in Europe, the European Commission has become the first in the world to set global standards for artificial intelligence (AI) regulations. And we will see more of these kinds of regulations emerge. Navigating the current and expanding regulatory framework effectively is a significant challenge, and we at CANEA foresee that regulations will only increase. With the burden of managing and complying with regulations, migrating effectively into continuous improvement and taking advantage of digitalization and innovation becomes an even greater challenge.

2. Protecting know-how and securing information

Organizations and customers are more mobile and work remotely or in the office, affecting how we share, store, and secure information. Recent news about security breaches at all levels of society impact infrastructure, supply chains, and the global economy. In CANEA’s recent Management System Barometer, the study shows that an increasingly mobile and global workforce places huge security requirements on organizations, quality leaders, and management systems. Our study also indicates a growing concern that we humans and human errors are the weak link. Also, a recent report from the World Economic Forum, Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2024, confirms that cyber skills and talent shortages continue to widen at an alarming rate.

Training to implement international standards, such as ISO 27001, helps organizations become risk-aware and proactively identify and address weaknesses. Hand in hand, organizations must also have their own tools and plans for risk management and cyber resilience.

In your role as a strategic thinker, you must monitor external threats and quickly adapt and manage these growing risks. Skills such as strategic planning and allocating resources with the necessary skills come into play.

3. Plugging the knowledge drain and leveraging innovation

Other consequences of a changing workforce are the aging population and job churn. Quality leaders work proactively to ensure the continuity of quality for the organization and processes to protect valuable knowledge when a key person leaves the company. Reducing and managing dependency on key staff, quicker onboarding of new employees, and implementing value-driven and cross-functional roles by reducing silos are some of the issues you must manage on an organizational level.

Embracing digital transformation and leveraging technologies such as artificial intelligence or the Internet of Things (IoT) can complement or replace knowledge gaps. As a change agent, you can motivate your colleagues to implement change using methods such as the Prosci ADKAR model (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement) or Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model to guide the implementation of quality improvements.

Overall, quality leaders’ evolving roles and challenges can be opportunities. Reimagining and reinventing traditional quality management systems (QMS) is necessary to meet the demands of a rapidly changing world. With forward-thinking quality leadership, you can shape a future where quality is not just a goal but an essential driver for your company. Stay tuned for our next article, which addresses the cost of quality and keeping up with the pace of technology.