This month’s article discusses how focusing on quality and eliminating waste can be a game changer in the finishing and coating industry.

Jim CastigliaJim CastigliaI’ve suggested in previous articles to determine your priorities for 2024, what can be called “the vital few.”

Don’t overload yourself or your team with too much to do. Narrow it down to a short list of greatest importance, and then press hard.

A History Lesson

You may have started or are already deep into a Nadcap certification, but did you know that the concern and focus on quality is as old as humankind's? Consider the artisans and craftspeople in our oldest societies. They dealt with quality issues regularly, long before the modern-day focus on it.

Sir Ronald Fisher is considered the father of the modern quality movement. Fisher mentored Dr. Walter Shewhart, whose control charts helped companies distinguish between "common cause" variation, which should be ignored, and “special cause” variation, which should be corrected. 

Shewhart’s junior colleagues at Western Electric were Dr. W. Edwards Deming and Dr. Joseph Juran. This pair later helped Japan become the quality force that dominated world markets. (The Deming Prize has been a coveted award in Japanese business since 1951!)

Deming advocated a principle of continual improvement energized by a sense of joy in work. The Shewhart PDSA Cycle shows this idea of continual improvement as a process of Plan - Do - Study - Act that repeats continually. The goal is to optimize processes for the best output.

What major processes in your business can benefit from this approach? Looking at the main dimensions of business can be useful:

  • Management
  • Finance
  • Marketing

Action: work with your executive team to determine where improvements could be made. Where can waste be reduced or eliminated? Again, don’t take on too much. What improvements would benefit the organization the most in the next 12 months?

Eliminate Waste

A wise management consultant once said the following: “Waste Incorporated is a national organization operating here, there, and everywhere to the detriment of good business, using your labor, your material, your equipment, your capital. You pay the bills. Waste takes the profits. Waste Incorporated is your Number 1 enemy.”

Do you agree? 

The Balanced Scorecard

In 2001, Robert Kaplan and David Norton authored a new approach to thriving in business called “The Balanced Scorecard.” 

What’s interesting is that they detail four perspectives to consider in designing strategic growth:

  • The Financial Perspective
  • The Customer Perspective
  • The Internal Process Perspective
  • The Learning and Growth Perspective.

Most companies were mainly focused on the Financial Perspective, but Kaplan and Norton claimed this was very short-sighted. 

This article focuses on the third perspective, the Internal Process Perspective. Kaplan and Norton expand on this vantage point in the following way:

  • Build the organization through innovations
  • Increase customer value through customer management processes
  • achieve operational excellence through operations and logistics processes
  • Become a good corporate citizen through regulatory & environmental processes.

These four areas can help you discuss improving processes and eliminating waste with your team. The important thing is to get input from the people closest to the action. Where can you innovate? How can you increase customer value? What would dramatically improve operational excellence? Are we good corporate citizens? Can we improve here?

Ensure everyone in your organization is clear on your company’s priorities for improvement and lead them on these initiatives by keeping them focused. Don’t chase after shiny pennies.

In closing, I wish you all a wildly successful 2024, and I thank publisher Tim Pennington for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you. 

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions. I can be reached directly at or via text at 949-338-7141.

Jim Castiglia is the founder of Business Street Fighter Consulting and supports entrepreneurial business owners in their desire to grow and maximize the value of their business. He can be reached by email at or by phone at 919.263.1256. Visit