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".
TQM creates an environment where the customer is the most important consideration. TQM is based upon 3 core principles.
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.
TQM Principle 2 - Continuous Improvement
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.
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.
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 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.
Make An Improvement Then Standardize
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