Jamie Houghton, former CEO and president, and Wendell Weeks, chairman and CEO, reflect on Corning’s Total Quality journey
Quality has always been important to Corning, throughout the company’s 168-year history. James “Jamie” Houghton, former CEO, chairman, and fervent champion of Quality led a new vision for this core company Value. Wendell Weeks, current chairman and CEO, leads in carrying on Corning’s Quality legacy.
In 1983, under Houghton’s leadership, Corning established a global company-wide movement to strengthen and build upon our Total Quality commitment.
Houghton defined Total Quality as “meeting customers' requirements 100% of the time. In other words, our goal is to do error free work the first time and every time.”
In 1994, Houghton outlined six strategies to deliver Total Quality: clear leadership, customer results, comprehensive employee training, broad participation, communication inside and outside the company, and the right processes and tools.
Houghton underscored the importance of leadership engagement. “Quality and running the business can never again be separate endeavors. You simply can't do it. We believe quality thinking and quality action must be embedded in everything we do,” he said.
In the three and a half decades since instituting Total Quality, Corning remains steadfastly committed to this core company Value. “Quality has become a way of life for us. It permeates our company and affects everything we do,” said Houghton.
Wendell Weeks described Corning’s Quality journey: “We began by focusing on manufacturing cost-reductions. Next, we turned our attention to increasing process efficiencies. Today, it’s about improving relationships with customers, accelerating the speed of our innovation programs, improving our lowest-cost position, and making smart choices about what projects to pursue and how to pace them.”
“Most importantly, it’s about engaging every single employee in the journey of continuous improvement,” said Weeks. “Whether you’re in the lab, on the plant floor, on a commercial team, or part of a staff group, you personally can make a difference. And even though some of the individual results may seem small, when you add them up, they have a big impact. It drives home the fact that we are all in this together and what we do really matters.”
Employee engagement began at the top, from the very start, and served as the very first strategic step focused on leadership. “Strategy number one is leadership. It isn't management. You don't say, ‘I believe in it, but you go do it.’ You have to do it yourself. You have to lead by example,” Houghton said.
Quality is a continuous cycle for Corning. “We have the tools and techniques to reduce costs, increase efficiencies, accelerate our innovation, improve manufacturing yields, reduce cycle times, increase safety, enhance our value to customers, and improve our decision-making,” said Weeks.
As one of our core Values, Quality will remain at the forefront of everything we do at Corning, at every one of our facilities all around the world.