If you are reading this book, it is likely
that you already know what we mean when we
use the term Total Quality Management.
Still, it's a good idea to define the term,
and provide a brief overview.
Certainly TQM can be
defined in a number of ways, and the details
of different approaches can vary somewhat.
However, a good starting definition, drawn
from Capezio & Morehouse is:
"Total Quality management
refers to a management process and set of
disciplines that are coordinated to ensure
that the organization consistently meets and
exceeds customer requirements. TQM engages
all divisions, departments and levels of the
organization. Top management organizes all
of its strategy and operations around
customer needs and develops a culture with
high employee participation. TQM companies
are focused on the systematic management of
data of all processes and practices to
eliminate waste and pursue continuous
Perhaps a better way of
understanding TQM is to compare a "TQM
organization with what we might call a
"traditional organizations". Let’s look at a
number of differences.
Customer-Driven vs. Company-Driven
tend to make their decisions based on what
is most convenient for them, rather than
what is wanted and expected by their
customers. Being customer-based means
gatf7ering information from
customers/clients and modifying services and
processes to meet those needs as well as
possible. In government, this is not always
easy, due to the conflicting
responsibilities of a department, and the
multiple customers/stakeholders involved in
government situations. However, in many
cases moving to a customer-driven
organization can yield many positive results
for government departments.
vs. Short-Term Orientation
tend to think and plan with respect to short
term outcomes, white TQM organizations tend
to think in much larger time spans. A
typical example might be that a TQM
organization would look at downsizing as
having effects over a decade or two, while a
traditional organization would look only at
the immediate budgetary issues, letting
future chips fall where they may.
Also, successful TQM
organizations make a long term commitment to
the principles of TQM, rather than looking
at TQM as a program; something with a
beginning and end. This means patience.
Data-Driven vs. Opinion-Driven
tend to be managed by gut feel, or by
opinion. They guess at what their customers
want, and guess at the costs of waste, etc.
TQM organizations base their decisions on
data they collect; on customer needs, on
waste, on costs, and on the sources of
problems. While judgment is always involved
in any decision, TQM organizations begin
with the data, not with the solution.
Elimination of Waste vs. Tolerance of Waste
operate with a high degree of waste and
inefficiency. Traditional organizations
consider waste, whether it be in time,
materials, etc, as a normal part of their
operation. TQM organizations are very active
in identifying wasteful activities, and
Improvement vs., Fire Fighting
tend to address problems with the way they
do things only when there is a major problem
or crisis. The watchword in traditional
organizations is: "if it isn’t broke, don't
fix it", except that often it IS broke, but
nobody is paying any attention.
TQM organizations are
always looking for improvement, and are
constantly engaged in problem-solving to
make things better.
tend to fix problems after the fact. Rather
than trying to prevent problems, they catch
them after the fact, which is very costly.
TQM organizations work to prevent problems
and errors, rather than simply fixing them.
Cross-Function Teams vs. Fortressed
tend to have sub-units that work
autonomously and with little communication
or involvement with other units. For
example, personnel may have only limited
interaction with other departments. Or, on a
local level, administrative staff may have
little communication with other staff in a
government branch, and have a different
In TQM organizations,
there is more use of cross-functional teams;
teams convened for a particular purpose or
purposes, with representation from a number
of units or levels in the organization. The
use of cross-functional teams means that
input is gained from parts of the
organization that need to be involved.
Employee Participation vs. Top-Down
tend to have very restricted communication
and decision- making patterns. Employees are
told what to do, rather than being included
in figuring out what to do. Information
tends to flow from top to bottom.
In TQM organizations,
employees are much more actively involved in
both the decision-making and communication
processes. Information flows both top to
bottom and bottom to top. For that matter,
information also flows sideways.
Problem-Solving vs., Blame
tend to look to affix blame for things that
go wrong. TQM organizations attack the
problems in their organizations rather than
the people. They fix things.
Thinking Vs. Isolation
tend to see the parts and processes of their
organization as single things, unrelated to
other part of the organization. TQM
organizations tend to recognize that most
often, problems arise as a result of
multiple causes, and that sub- units are
interdependent. TQM organizations tend to
see problems as a result of the entire
Leadership vs. Management
tend to see people as objects to be managed;
told what to do, disciplined, tracked, etc.
TQM organizations exhibit more confidence in
staff and more trust, and expect MORE from
them, not less.
That's a good starting
point. There are probably a number of other
comparisons to be made, but that gives us
some common ground for discussion.
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