Oakland Group

What is Quality 4.0?

I am delighted that this week we can make more widely available the first publication on our leading-edge research project carried out for and with the CQI on Quality 4.0 (Q 4.0). In the July edition of Quality World, there was a cover feature – ‘Defining QUALITY 4.0.’ The editor Tracy Tyley and her team did a great job in presenting the article written by Mike Turner, CQI Head of Profession, and myself with enormous support from the Oakland Institute/Leeds University Business School research team (which includes LUBS Professor Chee Yew Wong and OI’s Ian McCabe and Dr Katey Twyford).

From an extensive systematic literature review we were able to put forward a full but rather clunky draft working concept definition of Quality 4.0, together with ten emerging principles. These were then cross-examined using an online survey and interviews with practitioners and experts/advisers, together with a focus group discussion with some members of the European Organisation for Quality. The lines of enquiry were focused on addressing:

The analysis also captured the invited qualitative comments made by participants about the proposed definition and principles.

The overwhelming feedback from the online survey was one of positive agreement with the draft definition. For example, of the responses to the question, “Does the definition reflect the concept of Quality 4.0?” 66 per cent agreed or strongly agreed, 27 per cent partially agreed and only 7% (3 respondents) disagreed or strongly disagreed.

This is all referred to in the QW article, of course, and it enabled us to generate a revised user friendly definition: “Quality 4.0 is the leveraging of technology with people to improve the quality of an organisation, its products, its services and the outcomes it creates.”

We were also able to amalgamate and reduce the ten emerging principles to develop a revised set of Eight Quality 4.0 Core Principles, published in the QW article and covering the following areas:

Co-creation of value;


Transparency and collaboration;

Cyber-physical systems;

Mutual trust;

Rapid adaptive learning;

Data value;

Technology and combined intelligence;

And for each Core Principle we provided an illustrative example, in the clear and colourful Q 4.0 Infographic presented as a ‘centre-fold’ in the issue of Quality World.

Other key findings from the online survey are as follows:

The CQI recognises that Q 4.0 is a gamechanger for the profession and this properly structured, wide-ranging and systematic research creates the need for quality professionals to engage with our research outcomes to begin a personal development plan.

We are now in engaged in Stage two of the research, seeking to identify what are or will be the key issues for top managers leading implementation of Q 4.0, around the five core elements of the CQI competency framework: Leadership, Governance, Assurance, Improvement and Context.  This will primarily cover practices – the how, where and who –  so we will be able to understand how organisations are implementing Quality 4.0, or planning to do so, what are the costs/benefits, how are those benefits measured, and what are the implications for senior executive teams and the quality profession.

To access the research and info-graphic the CQI has set up a Quality 4.0 hub that can be accessed here…



Professor John Oakland