Dr. Geeta Bharadwaj was the Executive Director, IMC Ramkrishna Bajaj National Quality Award (RBNQA) Trust. She is a Senior Economist and an avid researcher. She has played a guiding role in several research projects and was also an Administrator of IMC RBNQA.
Dr. Geeta is now the lead faculty for training programs at IMC RBNQA Trust. She is internationally recognized as the only ‘Indian Woman Quality Professional Leader’. Dr. Geeta is also a winner of MIFLORA MINOZA GATCHALIAN MEDAL 2006 conferred by International Asia Pacific Quality Organization for being a woman quality professional who has distinguished herself as a person with known integrity. She is also well known for her outstanding contributions to the promotion of quality innovation and practice in the Asia Pacific Region.
Q. Dr. Geeta, being an M.A and PhD in Economics, how did working in quality happen to you?
In 1993, Mr. Harsh Goenka – the then President of IMC, set up the Quality Technology Improvement Committee to bring in an award system for Indian organizations. I took charge of that committee. For two years, we studied all the awards all around the world like the Demming Prize, EFQN, Malcomn Baldridge etc. We decided to develop the IMC Ramkrishna Bajaj National Quality Award (IMC RBNQA) on the lines of Malcomn Baldridge and that is how the RBNQA happened and this whole journey of Quality and excellence began.
Q. Which are the ideologies of RBNQA that can be inculcated by us?
I don’t know if you can call it ideologies, but one thing which will help you on the road to excellence is ‘Practice’, because they say it takes 10,000 hours for a person to be excellent in anything. Be it violinist or a flutist, you need to practice those many hours. It also takes a lot of innovation and creativity to be excellent, only then others can be inspired by you.
Q. As you know SIES is also certified from RBNQA, what more can we do to excel?
One of the outputs of RBNQA is that it gives a feedback report in accordance to the application submitted by the institution. The institution can go back to the feedback report and find out the gaps in them and understand what needs to be done to improve upon them. It’s been 4-5 years since SIES won the award. Today, they take social media as a criterion, i.e. how well the institution uses social media to understand its customers i.e students, and their problems. Different students have different opinions and problems. So one of the important aspects is how to get this information from the students and then filter the required data.
I’ll give you a small example, ISB, as all of you must be knowing, Indian School of Business, it’s a beautiful place. I have been there, interacted with the students and people, and the system they have there is wonderful. I thought the students wouldn’t be having any problems there. But when I asked a person there, he said students do have issues and that they have a feedback form to know their problems. They have complains like ‘they have a fixed menu’ or even bizarre ones like ‘there isn’t a beauty parlour nearby’. No matter what, people will always have issues. Hence, customer feedback is very essential. It is necessary to see what the customer wants so that you can improve from the feedback you get.
Q. Please tell us about customer focus as an RBNQA criterion?
Customer focus is an important aspect in quality. Long back about 20-25 years ago, when ISO came with a standard for quality measurement, customers were not given much importance. It was more of a process oriented system. But now, if you want to achieve excellence then understanding the customer is a must. You can understand the customers by answering questions like ‘Is he coming back to you again?’, ‘Is he loyal to you?’, ‘Is he trying to see other options?’, ‘How vulnerable is your customer?’ In a rating of 1-5 if he gives you a rating of 1, then he is most vulnerable and he may shift any time, if he gets an option.
Quite often, the customer may not be satisfied and may not even be complaining, then you wouldn’t even know. So, you should be happy that your customers are complaining because it lets you improve and grow. Once you get your customer feedback, you have to improve upon the things that are lacking and give them what they want, so that they continue to be loyal. Customer is the fulcrum of the journey towards excellence; it is a summit where you must strive to reach.
Q. What are the learnings from RBNQA and how can it help us as students and budding managers?
Excellent organizations all over the world function during different times facing different challenges. What they do, what are their best practices, are all taken as criteria for the award. It’s not a prescriptive model but it is model which tells you what you are doing. It identifies the gaps, if any, and enables you to improve your quality in your own way, along with bringing in innovation and creativity.
As a student you will be able to understand how world class organizations function and as a business person you will be able to see and understand the best practices that other companies follow all over the world which you can try to emulate in your own organization.
Malleswari Bhupathi (PGDM 2012 -14)
Ashwin Govindankutty (MMS 2012 – 14)