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Laurel Thoennes @ Quality Digest

Quality Insider

H. James Harrington Honored by the Australian Organization for Quality

Harrington is first person outside of Australia to be honored as “The Global Leader in Performance Improvement Initiatives.”

Published: Tuesday, May 4, 2010 - 15:11

In appreciation for the invaluable efforts of H. James Harrington to improve quality around the world, the Australian Organization for Quality New South Wales Inc. has honored Harrington as “The Global Leader in Performance Improvement Initiatives.” 

Bestowing this honor was a unanimous decision of the board of directors of the AOQ NSW. It was an enthusiastic vote showing the highest regard for Harrington, because this is the first time someone from outside Australia has received such an honor, according to Shan Ruprai, national president of AOQ NSW and president of the Asia Pacific Quality Organization (APQO). 

“James has been a luminous global quality leader for more than 50 years,” says Ruprai. “He is an inexhaustible creative author of more than 36 books that have added value to countless businesses around the world. Total Improvement Management: The Next Generation in Performance Improvement (McGraw-Hill, 1995) is one of his many books that provide an A-to-Z improvement plan for organizations.”  

Harrington has traveled throughout Australia six times, starting in the early 1980s, lecturing on continuous improvement, process redesign, and total improvement management. “On one occasion I led a team of [American Society for Quality Control] ASQC professionals on a tour through Australia putting on conferences for the local quality associations free of charge,” says Harrington. “Our mission was to point out the importance of quality improvement to the economic growth of Australia. This was part of the World Crusade for Quality, sponsored by the International Chapter of ASQC.” 

After serving for two years as president and chairman of the board for ASQC, Harrington launched his own consulting firm, Harrington, Hurd, & Rieker Inc., in 1987. It was Harrington’s methods of process redesign and strategic quality planning that made the company a success. Again, Harrington headed off to Australia to share these methodologies. “I also had a representative in Australia,” says Harrington. “He used all the materials developed by Harrington, Hurd, & Rieker, to promote very enthusiastic team building seminars and consulting assignments throughout Australia.” 

Harrington promoted performance improvements not only to Australia’s quality management professionals, but to all types of organizations, advising government and business leaders alike, according to Ruprai.

We asked Harrington, who is also a long-time Quality Digest columnist, if the United States could learn something from the Aussie’s. 

“Australian people remind me of the United States in the 1970s,” says Harrington. “These people are still family-oriented and they care about their moral obligations. They plan for their future and save for retirement. This has helped them weather the global financial crisis. We in the United States have a lot to learn from them and the past. These are the things that built the luxuries we have today. We need to get back to a strong set of family values and dedicate ourselves to our religion.

“The questions we in America need to ask ourselves are: ‘Why do we exist? What is our responsibility to our children and our grandchildren? Is our obligation to buy them another new Nintendo or to sit down with them to read Harry Potter books and discuss the big and small problems that they have? Have we given as much of ourselves to our families as we do to our work and our customers?’ Answering these questions honestly may hurt, but it should also help, as long as we take corrective action that will focus us more on our families and community and less on self-actualization.”


About The Author

Laurel Thoennes @ Quality Digest’s picture

Laurel Thoennes @ Quality Digest

Laurel Thoennes is an editor at Quality Digest. She has worked in the media industry for 33 years at newspapers, magazines, and UC Davis—the past 25 years with Quality Digest.