A First Step, a Decentralized Organization.

The original Central Quality department was organizationally attached to the Scientific Director Patrick Bozec . Patrick, former head of R&D, was  also General Secretary of the Comex, Essilor’s Executive Committee, the monthly meeting of the chief executives of Essilor. For my project to reorganize the Quality structure Patrick left me a high level of freedom and independence. His conviction was, that responsibility for the quality of a piece of work, a product or a service, should be linked as close as possible to the person or organization, being responsible for the work. I think this was the right idea and particularly in the current and special organization, where  Quality  was not directly represented in the Comex.

So the quality structure, as it was, had to be reorganized. In practical terms this meant to decentralize the operational activities i.e. that R&D, Operations and the regional lab organizations should get their own quality departments and that the central unit should  maintain the role of coordination and animation. The R&D and Production departments were very interested to replace external quality control by a quality group under their own responsibility, meaning more flexibility for them. The situation of the continental markets (called zones in the Essilor organization) Europe, USA and Asia- Pacific, to name the most important among them, was more complicated. Their production was done in local labs of the different countries representing a region. Each lab had its own small quality control unit. The supervising structures of the regions were very different, on one hand a big well- structured Quality department in Europe and in Asia on the other hand a small engineering group, also solving quality problems. For the zones which were managed by sales people, the need of a worldwide homogeneous Quality structure for the labs (for example to perform a benchmarking from continent to continent) was not evident. So it was hard to convince them to invest in resources for an effective decentralized regional Quality organization. It was up to me to do this and it took several years until the decentralized organization was put in place in all the zones with their different distribution channels.

The heads of the different decentralized departments were all experienced quality experts having learned their business from scratch and were battle proved by their daily work of ensuring quality in projects under permanent time pressure  by the market: Michel Jullian leading the R&D Quality team, Philippe Melget, a great Quality talent and responsible for the Quality experts of the Operations’ department, Daniel Steigelmann for the European zone, Michael Vitale for the USA and my friend Kevin O’Connor  for the Asia- Pacific region. They formed a truly global organization covering all operational activities of the company on every  continent .