Total quality management (TQM) is one of the most effective and successful approaches to quality improvements and controls proposed by E, Deming. Achieving quality is more important than always trying to get the lowest price for supplies used in a product. It is better to pay more for good supplies that add value to what you produce. Every part of a system, of a process, affects other parts; overemphasis on cost savings at every stage can jeopardize efforts to ensure quality (Beckford, 2002).
Quality is worth investing in because, in the end, it does more to ensure prosperity and success Improvement is not a one-time effort. Everyone in the organization must constantly be looking for ways to reduce waste and improve quality, save time, and promote achievement. Here, leadership is not supervision but rather finding ways to help workers to improve. Management must employ objective methods to find out who needs what kind of help.
Quality can be defined as “meeting customers’ (agreed) requirements, formal and informal, at the lowest cost, first time every time” (Beckford 2992m p, 184). Toyota is the best example of TQM. There are no quality control experts at Toyota. Workers do their own quality control, both as individuals and in teams. This is in keeping with Deming’s Point 3 to “cease dependence on mass inspection.” A close look at Toyota’s production processes reveals why it is unnecessary.
The scrutiny and analysis to which they subject every aspect of their work, every step in every process, ensures that employees work not only hard but smart. Every employee contributes to the improvement process; the collective contributions amount to thousands of ways to enhance either quality or efficiency each year (Calingo, 1996). With an overwhelmingly (98%) American workforce, Toyota demonstrates how Japanese management has more than met the challenge of maintaining both high morale and a heart for continuous improvement.
The difference is management. American workers produce far better products when they are working for Japanese rather than American-managed companies. Companies like Toyota have accomplished this feat by breaking ranks with the old-style industrial model and creating a new kind of employee. In the halcyon days of American industry, we developed mind- and soul-killing practices. Toyota’s concern with making every employee a quality control expert, in effect self-managing, can be seen in everything it does. Toyota’s bow toward its employees is more than token. It is an achievement wrought primarily by its insistence on and its appreciation for the contributions of their employees’ heads as well as their hands (Beckford, 2002).
The main principles of TQM are agreed on requirements, on-time delivery, quality improvement, every job must add value and promotion of creativity (Beckford 2002). In general, TQM does not require supervisors to be the all-knowing experts, which is too much to expect in most cases. Rather, it depends on all participants doing the assessment and evaluation of programs and processes. And it trusts them to do it honestly and accurately.
Compare this approach with the notion of principals as “instructional leaders” and the implicit assumption that they are the experts who must “mass inspect,” to use Deming’s term, in order to achieve quality. Not many building principals have the time or the expertise relative to every new method or movement to be this kind of mass inspector. It is only realistic that we begin to rely far more on the expertise inherent in people who teach every day.
Rather than knowing every detail of a process, their new role must be to nurture the growth and good performance of individuals and teams (Deming 1986). In the same way, educational technologies and some of the new pedagogies — from the whole language to the use of math manipulative — all make teaching a much more complex process. Only those using them can become true experts; and with their increasing expertise, they will most likely be ahead of their supervisors (Johnston 2003).
The other examples of successful TQM applications are SGL Carbon, Motorola. At Motorola, training is linked at every stage to improvement efforts. Employees may attend classes at what Motorola calls its “mini-university.” They also can be released from their regular duties for a day or half-day to learn the finer points of skill. At Motorola, the assumption is that everyone can learn something from someone else (Deming 1986).
Employees at Motorola serve in quasi-supervisory functions over teams and act as liaisons to management and interpreters of “the data.” Some of this supervision is done on a rotating basis. In this way, management is shared. It enables management to be leaner and to make better use of its time. There is a lesson here for school administrators, for whom lack of time is an ongoing problem. Despite the often-heard criticism about school administration being top-heavy, the reality is that in many schools the principal may have as many as 40 teachers and other employees to supervise. Management in these schools is about as lean as it can get.
All improvement efforts are based on the best information and data available. Because employees have an intrinsic drive to be continuously learning and enhancing their skills and capabilities, they find satisfaction in their jobs and optimal efficiency is reached at every stage. In organizations like Toyota, which engage in self-management and evaluation by teams, not only are the time pressures on management alleviated but the employees feel empowered. That is not all; employees also enlarge the scope of evaluation by focusing on ways of improving methods and processes. This is quite a different form of evaluation than simply sizing up an employee’s performance based on a snapshot observation (Deming 1986).
Monetary rewards for kaizen is a departure from Deming’s teaching. He regards any kind of monetary reward as the enemy of pride in workmanship. Perhaps Toyota has struck a reasonable compromise between Deming’s stance and a modest incentive system. (An average reward of $25 is a tangible way of saying thanks.) More important, the kaizen symbolizes what matters most to Toyota: the always-thinking, contributing employee; the value of collective intelligence; both individual and shared recognition of achievement and contribution.
Whether we regard it as enlightened self-interest or building a community, it instils a sense that the organization’s success rests on hundreds of individual and team successes. Toyota never takes this for granted (Johnston 2003). Toyota never forgets that its people are experts in what they do. Because no one expects management to be all-knowing, to have expertise in every area, the employees themselves are expected to teach and become experts in what they do daily (Drensek 1995).
Everyone is involved in training at both ends of “staff development,” by teaching and being taught at workstations and in a panoply of classes on everything from interpersonal relations to time-saving strategies. Toyota employees attend the “mini-university” for the most part on company time. All these overlaying practices — the meetings, the emphasis on data, the kaizen incentives, and regular recognition of the group and individual improvement — are the heart of creating the self-management mentality, of instilling in each person the sense that the organization depends on him or her. Although there are modest departures from Deming’s teachings (the small monetary rewards for kaizens, the routine setting of targets), Deming’s influence is writ large at the best auto plant in America (Johnston 2003).
TQM allows cost reductions that have an obvious and immediate impact on the bottom line. Not increasing investment in fixed assets further improves profitability. Based on his performance over a two-year period, the manager was promoted and transferred. Then the roof fell in. Warranty claims and post-warranty complaints came pouring in, long-ignored quality checks led to higher reject rates within the factory itself, and the machinery, suffering from continuous neglect, broke down repeatedly.
His successor had to resort to large-scale “crisis management” (“fire fighting” is a better description) and had to deal with adverse management reviews (“It must be the new guy’s fault; things were okay till he took over!”) and labour dissatisfaction at bonuses missed. Inability to turn the division’s performance around in two years (during which it stayed in the red) resulted in the manager losing his job and the firm never recovering its erstwhile position in the market (Chase and Jacobs 2003).
ISO 9000 is a set of standards aimed to stipulate quality management systems and requirements. Though information flow is a significant component of timely response, other types of activities could assume importance as well. Customers who, for example, would like material delivered in smaller lots every day rather than in large batches every week are not just asking for information about the firm’s capability.
They want a decision, a commitment, and a demonstration of the ability to deal with the new set of circumstances. Improvements in operating cycle efficiency (OCE) achieved by chipping away at the “waste” times like storage time, material handling time, waiting time, and time lost due to quality lapses can certainly help (Chase and Jacobs 2003). Though improvements in quality typically increase both the firm’s emphasis on value creation activities as well as the output rate (more cars produced per day, more guests checked in per hour, and so on), Quality still remains an efficiency measure.
In a standardized operation where efficiency (resource utilization) and hence costs are the predominant considerations, Quality and allied efficiency indicators might suffice as performance measures. On the other hand, for firms that wish to deliver continuously rising value through tight linkage to the customer, flexibility/responsiveness indicators must be tracked to supplement the efficiency meter (Johnston 2003).
ISO 9000 helps business organizations to follow agreed standards and meet the main principles of quality and continuous improvement policies. Instil in the organization is not merely a tolerance of, but even a desire for a higher level of mutual dependence. Overcoming the inherent urge to be independent and insulated calls for top executives who can be diplomats, straight shooters and firefighters all rolled into one.
Whether the organization be for manufacturing or service, and irrespective of which part of the value chain is under consideration, the instinctive human tendency to provide margins of safety must be tackled and overcome. Initially, a firm recommendation if not the outright imposition of tight linkage may be the best medicine to prescribe (Chase and Jacobs 2003). Changing layouts in manufacturing, eliminating inventory “cushions” in finished goods, raw material or working-process (which could affect distribution, suppliers, and internal operations, respectively), linking Marketing Research and Applied Research using Quality Function Deployment, and so forth, are some of the possible steps.
A transition has to be effected from a relatively cosy existence in which individual and group efforts are exerted in isolated splendour to a state of possible turmoil, at least initially, where finger-pointing, feelings of guilt and a generally increased sense of responsibility could be accompanied by spasms of frustration. This transition obviously could and should be eased to prevent the shock waves of resentment from rocking the organization’s stability.
This might include steps to improve equipment reliability through Total Productive Maintenance or implementing Statistical Process Control, balancing the chain of operations, the use of equipment of lower capacity to increase flexibility, and the encouragement of self-supervision to get employees acquainted with, even drawn to, the notion of taking responsibility for one’s tasks and activity performance (Chase and Jacobs 2003).
The case of Avon Corporation shows that environmental issues have, over the past few years, increasingly aroused our concern both as members of the public and as consumers. To the voice of the former, one can be assured policymakers have been and will continue listening; and consumers make a potent force for change. Avon Corporation follows ISO 9000 standards as part of the philosophy and vision of the company (Chase and Jacobs 2003).
Whether the issue is global warming as a result of burning fossil fuels or accelerated air, land and water pollution caused by producers and consumers alike, or opposition to the use of animal extracts for perfumes and colognes, the effect is, and will probably continue to be, a preference for products which are environmentally neutral (that is, do not have any impact on the environment). Clearly, therefore, however trivial and trite it might appear to be, not only must important customer needs be determined, measuring how well these needs are being provided for is also critical (Chase and Jacobs 2003).
The two aspects are indeed the two faces of the coin of customer value. Such quality gaps can make the pursuit of value a frustrating experience since the attainment of internal quality targets does not ensure the satisfaction of customers’ quality needs. Distortion in communication is not the exclusive preserve of hierarchies. Wherever information crosses boundaries (whether between value activities or hierarchic levels) distortion and even loss or suppression of information can occur.
For Avon, time is both an irreplaceable resource and a prominent dimension of value. It also plays an indispensable role in unifying an organization by vesting customers’ needs with a sense of urgency (Chase and Jacobs 2003). Organizations facing a crisis, for instance, typically feel a sense of urgency which in some cases serves to bring the organization together. Johnson and Johnson, in the wake of the Tylenol tragedy, closed ranks in the face of a near disaster. The sense of urgency precipitated by the crisis served to bind the firm more closely together than it ever had been before
In sum, TQM and ISO 9000 help organizations to meet quality standards and shape their particles in accordance with international laws and regulations. Facilitating interactions and reciprocal linkages among people as well as ensuring a balanced flow of information and tasks so that no bottlenecks result are beyond doubt both critical managerial responsibilities. A lack of inventory, the shutdown of machines, straying from quality conformity, an increased need for rapid changeovers, customer expectations of frequent product change, etc can increase organizational agility, consciousness, and cohesion, and can help avert the occurrence of major crises (such as customers being turned off by the firm’s inflexibility and poor quality). Heeding internal warning signals could help thwart crises, but first, these warning signals have to be allowed to surface.
- Beckford, J. 2002, Quality. Routledge.
- Calingo, L. M., 1996, “The Evolution of Strategic Quality Management.” International Journal of Quality & Management, Vol. 13, No. 9, pp. 19-37.
- Chase R.B., Jacobs R.F.2003, Operations Management for Competitive Advantage, Hill/Irwin; 10 edition.
- Deming, W. Edwards. 1986, Out of the Crisis. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
- Drensek, Robert A. and Fred B. Grubb.1995, “Quality quest: one company’s successful attempt at implementing TQM”. Quality Progress 28, no.9 pp. 91-95.
- Johnston R. 2003, Cases in Operations Management, 3rd Edition Pearson Education Limited.