The tricky part of this point as it relates to the church is taking the concept of mass inspection from the manufacturing industry to the service industry. Why? Well, the church isn’t manufacturing anything that can be inspected. Instead, the church is providing a service to people … sharing the life-changing teachings of Jesus Christ. Stated in the form of a Christian Church mission, Helping People Far From God To Become Fully Devoted Followers Of Jesus.
Now, let’s take this quote from Mary Walton’s book, The Deming Management Method, and see if we can apply it to the “product” the church delivers to its customers …
“Inspection with the aim of finding the bad ones and throwing them out is too late, ineffective, costly,” says Dr. Deming. “In the first place, you can’t find the bad ones, not all of them. Second, it costs too much.” The result of such inspection is scrap, downgrading and rework, which are expensive, ineffective and do not improve the process. “Quality comes not from inspection but from improvement of the process.”
The idea here is quality improvement through continuous process improvement, rather than inspection. And, improvement of quality as it relates to the church’s delivery of its product is critical. Right? We’re helping people to come to know Jesus. In order to do this effectively, we must deliver a powerful message, devoid of distractions and other mistakes.
What’s a good church example of “improving the process” versus inspection? Here’s an easy one. We used to have our whole staff proofread slides, e-mails, website text, etc. to ensure there were no mistakes. One time we printed thousands of direct mail pieces, after having several people proofread. When the cards were delivered, we noticed we had an extra “w” in our website URL. Instead of “www” the piece said “wwww.” It was embarrassing, needless to say. Given the amount of money it would have cost to have them reprinted (not to mention the time it would have taken) we sent them with the mistake.
This is just one example of typos and other mistakes we’ve published in written materials. The point being, no amount of “inspection” (proofreading in this case) will ensure there are no errors. Our “process improvement” since then has been requiring all staff to use Grammarly. If you’re not familiar with Grammarly, I would highly recommend you check it out!
Of course, there are so many more critical processes in the church. You get the idea, though. Long-term success comes via continuous process improvement, not inspection.