Total Quality Management

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Total Quality Management

In the 1950’s, the Japanese asked W. Edwards Deming, an American statistician and management theorist, to help them improve their war torn economy. By implementing Deming's principles of Total Quality Management (TQM), Japan experienced dramatic economic growth.

In the 1970’s the United States began to feel the impact of its reduction in world market share to Japan.

It took until the 1980’s before Dr. Deming and his 14 Principles of Management were taken seriously in the U.S. Quality experts Joseph Juran and Philip Crosby were also key contributors to Total Quality Management with their theories, models and tools.

One of the best ways to implement a culture committed to quality is through Total Quality Management (TQM). TQM is "a system of continuous improvement employing participative management and centered on the needs of internal and external customers".

Deming's 14 Principals of Management

  1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and to stay in business, and to provide jobs.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.
  3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.
  4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move toward a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.
  5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.
  6. Institute training on the job.
  7. Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul as well as supervision of production workers.
  8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.
  9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, to foresee problems of production and in use that may be encountered with the product or service.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
  11. Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.
  12. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means abolishment of the annual merit rating and of management by objective.
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
  14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody's job.

TQM creates an environment where the customer is the most important consideration. TQM is based upon 3 core principles.

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Total Quality Management Principals

TQM Principle 1 - Customer Focus

Customers define quality! And, TQM goes beyond the traditional view of a customer. Total Quality Management differentiates between internal and external customers.

Internal Customer - every transaction in a business has a customer. When we send an internal e-mail, the recipient(s) of the e-mail is an internal customer.

When we complete an internal form and send it the next step in the process for further processing, the recipient of the form is an internal customer.

If you cannot satisfy the needs of internal customers, you'll likely not satisfy the needs of the external customer.

External Customer – an external customer is our traditional view of a customer. They are the external consumers who purchase and directly use the product or service. Poor quality to internal customers eventually makes its way to external customers.

The impact of harnessing the improvement capabilities of internal customers can be seen in the graphic below. Internal personnel possess critical process “local knowledge” that can take improvement beyond traditional levels.

The Power of Local Knowledge

Quality Improvement Model

TQM Principle 2 - Continuous Improvement

Improving any process means reducing variation. Variation is the enemy of quality and almost all processes.

If there’s one over-riding quality principle to obtaining predictable and consistent outcomes, reducing variation would be it.

To reduce variation a variety of quality tools can be used including Six Sigma. When you’ve reduced variation and made an improvement; reduce it again!

TQM Principle 3 - Total Involvement

Total involvement means developing a culture where everyone embraces quality from the customer’s point of view. This starts at the top and flows down to all levels of the business.

All employees are trained in the tools of continuous improvement and have the authority to improve processes.

This extends into the supply chain and includes customers wherever possible. TQM works in business as well as in government, the military, education, and in non-profit organizations.

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Keys To Implementation

  • Top management commitment,
  • Employee involvement,
  • Employee training,
  • Reward and Recognition,
  • Measurement,
  • Usage of Quality Tools.....get your free tools here!

Total Quality Management is management-led! Top management commitment and “walking-the-talk” are critical-to-success. The emphasis is on quality in all functions and not just the production or service functions.

Everyone is responsible for ensuring that they “satisfy their customers” in all ways. The customer is the next to person in line to receive your work.

Total Quality Management is about prevention of errors and faults rather than detecting and correcting them.

Total Quality Management Process

One of the simplest and most widely used tools for quality improvement is Walter Shewhart’s “Plan-Do-Check-Act” improvement cycle. It is widely known as the PDCA cycle.

PDCA Model

Plan Do Check Act Model

PDCA Quality Improvement Process


1. Identify and validate the problem.

2. Understand the problems impact upon the business.

3. Determine the cause(s)


4. Eliminate the cause(s) and make the improvement. Try it on a small scale if it’s risky.


5. Verify that the changes and improvements have yielded the desired result.


6. Document and standardize the change so that it becomes the new norm.

The PDCA cycle process is straight forward and pretty simple to teach and use. With TQM this process is repeated over-and-over driving ongoing continuous improvement.

Continuous Improvement Wedge

Continuous Improvement Wedge

Make An Improvement Then Standardize

From Total Quality Management to Quality Management.

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