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Quality management has been a principle concern since the beginning of time. In the beginning, “God saw all He had made, and it was very good,” which indicates that God valued quality (Genesis 1:31, NIV). Therefore, humans being made in the image of God, and as Christians who are being transformed into His image with ever increasing glory, should strive to be like the Lord and be concerned with making things or providing service that is good (Genesis 1:27; 2 Corinthians 3:18). Van Duzer (2010) points out that humans are engaged in work that matters to God when they produce material things that enhance the welfare of the community, and the author adds those things that enhance the welfare of the community are good. Lean is a quality management continuous process improvement that attempts to carry out this concept by removing waste and concentrating on value-added processes that continually improves all aspects of the organization and improves quality (Sisson & Elshennawy, 2015).
Quality management is also about stewardship. Just as God created humans and worked for them as provider, God has commissioned humans to carry on His work in His command in Genesis 1:28 to fill the earth and subdue it (Keller, 2012). As quality managers, humans are trustees of God’s creation called to steward His creation on His behalf for His purposes and abide in His constraints (Van Duzer, 2010). Keller (2012) says the word subdue indicates a degree of incomplete development, although Creation was good. Van Duzer (2010) also suggests that though the Garden was perfect, it was not static, and it was a starting point anticipated by God to enable and work with human beings to cause the created order to flourish. The Garden was God’s design of creating meaningful work that humans were called to undertake, engaging their creativity, reflecting diversity, and growing out of and giving back to the community, which is God’s quality management leading to productivity.
Multiplying, being fruitful, and filling the earth are the productivity part of God’s initial commands to humanity (Genesis 1:28). God’s concern with productivity did not end at the Garden though, for Jesus told the Jewish leaders that His Father was still working to this day, and He is working also, when He was confronted about telling a man to pick up his mat and walk after healing him on the Sabbath (John 5:1-17; Keller, 2012). All continuous process improvement methods, from Toyota Production System, to Total Quality Management, to Lean, to Six Sigma, are all intended to improve productivity, whether in reduction of waste or improved customer satisfaction. Starbird and Cavanagh (2011) remind their readers that productivity is the outcome of a well-designed and well-run process, but should never be the goal. Quality management and productivity are man’s attempts to share in God’s shalom-restoring work ever since the Fall, which highlights the idea of common grace by Keller (2012) because many involved in this process are not Christ followers, but are imbedded with the common grace of God, being made in His image, with God-given talents and skills (Van Duzer, 2010). These God-given talents and skills are the source of creativity and innovation, a necessary focus for organizations to survive the modern era (Rasheed, Lodhi, & Habiba, 2016). Continuous process improvements such as Toyota Production System challenge every employee to continuously look for opportunities to increase value and eliminate waste, which may explain its success, because the intrinsic motivation fulfills motivation to seek challenges or gain knowledge, which is a primary and powerful element influencing employee creativity (Plenert, 2012; Yang, Lee, & Cheng, 2017). Creativity of frontline employees enhances new service development performance, which is productive, by applying their knowledge of service procedures and customer needs, which also achieves innovation (Yang, Lee, & Cheng, 2015). This example of frontline staff contribution to innovation and creativity validates Keller’s (2012) point that all work is an act of creating that comes from the same source; therefore, all work is dignified and productive.
Keller, T., & Alsdorf, K. L. (2012). Every good endeavor: Connecting your work to god’s work. New York, N.Y: Dutton.
Plenert, G. J. (2012). Strategic continuous process improvement: Which quality tools to use, and when to use them. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Sisson, J., & Elshennawy, A. (2015). Achieving success with lean: An analysis of key factors in lean transformation at Toyota and beyond. International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, 6(3), 263-280. doi:10.1108/IJLSS-07-2014-0024
Starbird, D., & Cavanagh, R. R. (2010). Building engaged team performance: Align your processes and people to achieve game-changing business results. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Van Duzer, J. (2010). Why business matters to God: (And what still needs to be fixed). Westmont: InterVarsity Press.
Yang, Y., Lee, P. K. C., & Cheng, T. C. E. (2016). Continuous improvement competence, employee creativity, and new service development performance: A frontline employee perspective. International Journal of Production Economics, 171, 275-288. doi:10.1016/j.ijpe.2015.08.006
Yang, Y., Lee, P. K. C., & Cheng, T. C. E. (2017). Leveraging selected operational improvement practices to achieve both efficiency and creativity: A multi-level study in frontline service operations. International Journal of Production Economics, 191, 298-310. doi:10.1016/j.ijpe.2017.06.023
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