An interview with Sabine Müller
7 min read

"Quality is a joint task."


KSB wants to further build on its strengths – and quality is one of them. In its strategy, the company has therefore defined the topic of quality leadership as one of the brand’s six pillars. At the beginning of the year, Sabine Müller took on the task of establishing a deep quality culture at KSB. What are her plans? In an interview with Stream of Stories she sheds some light on this question. You have been Corporate Quality Communications Manager since the beginning of the year. How would you describe the first few months of working on this new task?

Sabine Müller: It has been very exciting. Quality has got a multitude of facets. I have conducted numerous meetings with different departments and people. And I discovered that the topic of quality is very diverse. If you asked each of the 16,000 people working for KSB to define quality, you would most likely receive countless different replies. We are currently working on a campaign and other activities to create a common understanding of this topic. We also want to create an awareness for quality-oriented action among our colleagues. This is a decisive competitive factor because products and technologies meeting the customers’ expectations can only be the result of such a quality culture.

In general, companies understand quality as keeping the percentage of faulty products as low as possible. How would you personally define quality?

I would define it somewhat broader. Quality not only refers to products being free from faults. It is also about the quality of processes, working conditions such as occupational health and safety and cleanliness, motivated and well-trained employees, customer satisfaction as well as customer support and after-sales service. It comprises all aspects of the company – from internal processes to external perception. In brief, I would summarise it as follows: Quality means meeting customer requirements. We want customers to be loyal and keep purchasing from KSB because of their good experience.

KSB on its way to global excellence

KSB is overhauling its brand identity to underline its sustainable and positive corporate development. In this context, the company has not only taken on a new claim and a revised logo; it has also defined global quality as one of the six pillars of the KSB brand. Since the beginning of the year, Sabine Müller has held the role of Corporate Quality Communications Manager. Her task is to create a new awareness of this topic among employees and promote a quality culture at KSB. She has been working at KSB for 17 years. Prior to her new position, she was a product manager for spare parts.

Sabine Müller

KSB products have been known for their quality for a long time. Why do we need a quality campaign at KSB now?

The quality of our products and technologies is already very high. This reputation is the outcome of many departments’ commitment and hard work. Launching a quality campaign now is important to illustrate that quality is not only the responsibility of individual departments or divisions but a joint task involving everyone working at KSB. Our aim is to fully meet our customers’ expectations and establish ourselves as a leading supplier. To achieve this we want to establish a corporate culture in which quality is anchored in every action and in which every employee is aware of this responsibility. We want to create a culture in which KSB’s employees are enthusiastic about supporting improvement processes, are proud of their work and of being a valuable part of KSB. Because quality is a joint task. This will result in a high customer satisfaction, which benefits all of us in the end.

Your title is Corporate Quality Communications Manager. How are you planning to recreate communication on the topic of quality?

Communication is the key to creating awareness and changing culture. Our objective is to draw more attention to this topic and generate a common understanding of what defines quality. At the same time we also want to show KSB’s employees appreciation and make it known when someone contributed to enhancing KSB quality. An example would be writing an article about the contribution in order to thank this employee. Naturally, communication to the outside world will also be part of this campaign to advertise the KSB brand to our customers.

To enhance quality, quantifiable values are needed to see if improvements have been made. What values could you use for this purpose?

We are currently creating a strategic indicator for quality leadership. This metric is calculated based on many smaller, weighted indicators and will enable us to measure change over the next few years.

Most people working in quality management have got a technical qualification. You studied economic psychology. How does this influence the way you view this topic?

Quality is not only about the characteristics of products and processes but also about people and the organisation overall. If we want to generate a decisive competitive advantage, we will have to make a cultural change. My background is a very good match as economic psychology deals with the psychological processes behind economic actions. It allows me to look at it from a different angle, which may help advance this cultural change. Also, I have gained sufficient technical insight and knowledge in the last 17 years of working at KSB.

If we talked about this again in a year’s time, what would have changed at KSB?

By then, we would have hopefully taken the first step and created awareness as well as a common understanding of quality. Our aim is to anchor quality as a fundamental value and see it develop into a lived value rather than being perceived by employees as an obligation. This would be quite an achievement already. In the end, quality starts in the head — everything else will follow on from that.

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