I ran across this discussion on one of the LinkedIn groups that I partake in occasionally. I’ve seen, and on the question previously, but today, it triggered something greater in me. Perhaps my current mood is a contributing factor, or the fact that I’m still recovering from a pretty long short week. But the question got to me…
I’ve been irksome this week anyway, so I have to accept that my angst is probably attributed more to my personal challenge with this type of question. In my bubble, I desire nothing more than to walk into the lab knowing that every single person in the building has an intimate knowledge of the “Standard” (ISO 17025, TNI, DoD QSM, whichever it may be). Okay, maybe I also desire them to be as passionate about the various clauses that define our Systems as I am. Such a passion for Quality would make our jobs darn near joyful, wouldn’t it?
The truth is, more often than not, the laboratory analyst’s working knowledge of the standards that dictate quality is that of acquaintance. I accepted this fact long ago. So much so, that if I find an analyst that shows more interest than a slug when I step onto my QA Soap Box… *Tag* Start grooming him for the QA Department!
That’s a rare occurrence. Not unheard of, but for the most part, I’m the Quality Assurance Manager for a reason… My colleagues are more interested in doing science, than memorizing the ISO clause on the Management Review requirement (Admission: I don’t have the citation memorized either, but I could turn to it in less than 2 minutes). The sooner I can accept that, the better. As such, the idea that a QA Manager would put much serious effort in training and evaluating the working knowledge of the technical staff puts a wrinkle in my forehead.
Broad stroke understandings… Yes I expect that from even the greenest analyst. Understanding that every requirement is there for a reason. We don’t do things in a willy nilly fashion. There has to be consistency. There has to be control. I monitor, investigate, and stress out over “out-of-controlness.” That’s my job. It is not so much their functional in destiny of the requirements that dictate our systems. It’s about their big picture understanding, and their implementation of the systems.
Of course, my expectations of the leadership team are a bit more involved, but I still do not expect them to have the geektastic knowledge and understanding of the Standards. These concepts do not excite the Supervisors, Technical Directors, and Lab Managers they way they do the QA Manager. And that’s okay.
Albert Einstein once said:
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
I believe this whole heartedly. I am an advocate for Quality in the Lab. If my colleagues get one thing from me, I hope it is consistency in my message.
My advocacy of quality has, over the years, boiled down to a few mantras that address key concepts like documentation, traceability, and integrity. Those concepts that I have not yet been able to distill into a Haiku, I explain using real world applications, rather than abstract concepts. Annual ethics and integrity training is supplemented by “case studies.” Real world examples are used in cautionary discussions. Anything I can do to increase the knowledge of the purpose and application of the Quality System.
In short Quality in the Lab means one thing on my team – To provide data of known and documented quality. And in my world, known and documented quality means reconstructable. If I can’t look at your records and be able to understand exactly what you did, then we’ve got some work to do.
What are some of the ways you promote Quality in the Lab?