Business growth cited as most critical challenge in 2011

Companies should focus on quality to ensure profitable growth, global executives report in a study from The Conference Board.


According to the results of The Conference Board CEO Challenge 2011, CEOs across the globe cite business growth as the most critical challenge they face. In this year’s survey, over 700 CEOs, presidents and chairmen from across geographies and industries identified the most pressing issues they face in today’s business environment.

More than ever before, business leaders are turning to new ideas, products, customers, and markets to fuel growth and drive innovation. However, a key to accelerated growth is the quality function.

According to a follow-up report to the CEO Challenge, Answering the 2011 CEO Challenge: Accelerating Growth Through Quality, global executives report that the quality function is uniquely positioned to accelerate growth through better execution and alignment. Quality also provides the voice of the customer that is critical for developing the innovative products and services that will sell in the marketplace.

The report is based on sessions from The Conference Board Quality Council, interviews and other research. The report is part of The Conference Board Council Perspectives series, which provides a unique look into the minds of senior executives from leading global organizations as they assess, analyze and develop ways to address critical issues. Members of the Quality Council include Alcoa, Bank of America, Johnson and Johnson, Nokia, Cisco, 3M, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and others.

Quality management practices today go far beyond statistical tools and a quality assurance mentality. Council members report that quality deployment approaches are tightly linked to strategy, and take into account trends in globalization, customer sophistication, talent variability, environment and sustainability issues, as well as new communication channels. The report provides examples demonstrating the value of the various quality tools and techniques to drive growth, focusing on cost optimization, talent management, government regulation and innovation – which were also identified as highly ranked challenges by CEOs in The Conference Board survey. These include:

  • Strengthening end-to-end process management, systems thinking and agility.
  • Leveraging and defining quality in the context of driving growth.
  • The value of the quality professional as a catalyst for change.
  • Incorporating quality fundamentals in development plans for employees and leaders.
  • Developing and engaging employees to leverage growth.
  • Extending innovation throughout the organization.
  • Strengthening knowledge management for feedback on risk management decisions, performance management, and customer requirements and expectations. 

Today’s quality leader must not only contribute to operational efficiency, but also possess a macro view of the business – cutting across and linking functions, geographies, and business lines. A successful response to the challenges posed by CEOs draws from core quality fundamentals and a battery of tools, techniques, and practices applied thoughtfully and effectively. Today’s quality professional strengthens the alignment between the C-suite and their quality leaders, and can act as a critical partner for accomplishing the goals of the enterprise.

The Conference Board

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