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

For other articles on sustainable engineering, see: and the links below.

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.