Press Releases

Stamford, Conn., August 20, 2020

Gartner Says Supply Chain Leaders Must Develop a Culture of Quality to Sustain Quality Levels During Periods of Disruption

Advisors to Discuss Tools and Activities to Improve Culture of Quality in Supply Chain Organizations During the Virtual Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo in EMEA and the Americas

A single disruption in an organization causes an average culture of quality to drop 9%, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc. Organizations experience on average three disruptions per year.

“COVID-19, digital transformation, sudden facility shutdowns or an expansion into a new market – all of those incidents disrupt supply chain organizations. A strong culture of quality is critical during times of transformation,” said Bryan Klein, research director with the Gartner Supply Chain Practice. “Quality leaders must find strategies to sustain their quality levels during disruptions.”

The Gartner 2020 Culture of Quality During Disruptions Survey, conducted among more than 1,200 respondents, found that the primary tools quality leaders use to maintain a culture of quality during a disruption – reinforcing the importance of quality and ensuring access to quality tools such as trainings and knowledge hubs – have little to no impact.

“More than 70% of survey respondents said that messages about the importance of multiple competing priorities all increased during a disruption. That’s why just reinforcing the importance of quality falls on deaf ears,” Mr. Klein said. “It’s the same with quality tools. As priorities and circumstance change during the disruption, employees are unsure whether the tool is still relevant – and stop using it.”

Only 27% of Organizations Help Employees Navigate Tensions Between Priorities

According to the survey, the most impactful action quality leaders can take to maintain a culture of quality during disruptions is to help employees navigate the inevitable tensions between conflicting priorities. However, this is something only 27% of organizations are currently doing.

“It helps when senior leaders acknowledge the tensions between priorities,” Mr. Klein said. “There’s power in knowing that employees aren’t expected to optimize multiple priorities at the same time. At times it’s okay to decide between priorities, such as decreasing speed-to-market in the face of a significant cost reduction.”

As a next step, quality leaders should offer clear guidance on when a certain level of quality is crucial and when it’s not. Establishing categories such as “must have quality”, “should have quality”, and “can have quality” are an easy way to guide employees’ thinking patterns.

Finally, employees must be equipped to manage competing tensions when necessary. Less than 25% of survey respondents reported that they seek guidance from quality leaders before making a difficult trade-off decision. Quality leaders must therefore ensure that employees are properly equipped to make those decisions on their own.

“Peer-to-peer consulting or a quality ambassador program can give employees access to the relevant guidance. Discussing tensions between priorities during weekly meetings motivates staff to reflect on their decision-making process and will lead to better informed decisions at later stages,” Mr. Klein concluded.  


The Gartner 2020 Culture of Quality During Disruptions Survey consists of over 25 research interviews with quality leaders responsible for culture of quality and of over 1,200 survey responses from employees, across various industries and regions, who recently experienced a disruption.

Gartner clients can learn more in the report “Sustaining Culture of Quality During Disruptions.”

About the Gartner Supply Chain Practice

The Gartner Supply Chain Practice brings together the most relevant analysis, peer-based best practices, metrics and data across Gartner and offers supply chain leaders a platform to make the choices that will drive their business forward. Additional information is available at Follow news and update from the Gartner Supply Chain Practice on Twitter and LinkedIn using #GartnerSC.

About Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo

Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo is the most important gathering of CSCOs and supply chain executives. Supply chain leaders will gain a strategic view of the trends disrupting their business and the insights and frameworks they can use to build agility and robustness into systems, processes and decision making.

Upcoming dates for the virtual Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo include:

October 5-8: EMEA

November 3-5: Americas

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) delivers actionable, objective insight to executives and their teams. Our expert guidance and tools enable faster, smarter decisions and stronger performance on an organization’s mission critical priorities. To learn more, visit