WHAT IS TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT (TQM)? (Rafael Pablo M. Fernando)

“Long-term commitment to new learning and new philosophy is required of any management that seeks transformation. The timid and the fainthearted, and the people that expect quick results, are doomed to disappointment.” (W. Edwards Deming)

 

     Total Quality Management is not derived from a single idea or person. Though most quality writers and practitioners trace the quality movement’s origins to W. Edward Deming, Joseph M. Juran and Philip B. Crosby, the roots of quality can be traced even further back, to Frederick Taylor in the 1920s. Taylor is recognized as the “father of scientific management.” The history of management reveals how manufacturing left the single craftsman’s workshop and prompted companies to develop a quality control department. As manufacturing moved into big plants, between the 1920s and the 1950s, the terms and processes of quality engineering and reliability engineering developed tremendously. During this period productivity was emphasized and quality was checked at the end of the line. But one thing is clear, total quality management is not derived from the quality gurus or a single idea. It evolved through the history of management (or mankind) and the United States was slow to see the advantages of TQM, although the American Society for Quality Control (now known as American Society for Quality) was formed in 1946. Many authorities on total quality management emphasize different techniques and use different terminology, but all share the common concepts: quality, process approach, customer intimacy, teamwork, continuous improvement, and top management support.

 

     The terminology for total quality management is difficult to summarize and define into a simple sentence or single definition. Many quality gurus have tried defining it, but all agreed that it is basically an “alternative management philosophy.” Some say TQM is eclectic, but it is not. For a proper perspective, I present several definitions of total quality management (TQM):

 

  • “A management process and set of disciplines that is coordinated to ensure that the organization consistently meets and exceeds customer requirements.” (Capezio and Morehouse, 1995).
  • “A combination of methods, theories, techniques, and quality guru strategies for achieving exceptional quality.” (Richardson, 1997).
  • “Total quality management is not a fad of time, but rather a correction of the previous failures in management combined to produce a better management style when used appropriately.” (Anschutz, 1995).

 

     The history of quality is also quite important to recognize to get the proper perspective of how total quality management emerged. Operations executives were aware of the quality message put forth by the so-called quality gurus: Deming, Juran and Crosby. It’s interesting to note, however, that these individuals were students of Shewhart, Dodge, and Romig in the 1930s, taking a generation for things to catch on. Helping the quality movement along is the Baldrige National Quality Award, which was started in 1987 under the direction of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The Baldrige Award recognizes companies each year for outstanding quality management systems. Similarly here in the Philippines we have the Philippine Quality Awards (PQA) which was patterned after the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award. The ISO 9000 certification standards, created by the International Organization for Standardization, now plays a major role in setting quality standards for global manufacturers. ISO 9000 standards is said to be the “foundation of total quality management.” In addition to the history of quality, Peter F. Drucker illustrates the implementation of total quality management philosophies that were used during the Gulf War by the Tactical Air Command of the United States Air Force under the leadership of Bill Creech, which has become a well-known success story despite the huge size and diversity of the organization. The basic reason for such a grand accomplishment is its founding in the roots of total quality management. The lesson is simple, for an endeavor to be successful the six (6) common concepts of TQM, mentioned earlier, is a prerequisite and an operational imperative.    

 

      From a historical perspective it is clear TQM evolved from several lead proponents who used various methodologies and concepts to bring about quality products. The “total quality company” exists where people want it to exist, and are willing to work together in creating it for themselves. TQM was never a one-man show, whether historically or conceptually. Total means that everyone from the President or CEO down to the lowest rank-and-file participates in quality initiatives and that it is integrated into all business functions. Quality means meeting or exceeding customer (external and internal) expectations. Management means improving and maintaining business systems and their related processes or activities. Given all these, total quality management is a philosophy, a science, a work ethic, a process, and a system. It is a continuous transformation of people and organizations. Total Quality Management is now a global necessity, an organizational imperative and a personal ethic. Its message is clear:  “We are all in this together. Quality is everyone’s responsibility.”

 

-OM-

 

 

  

  Rafael Pablo M. Fernando is currently the Officer-in-Charge of the Total Quality Management group of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA). He is also connected with Integral Transformation Group, Inc., a transformative management group that offers organizations and its people alternative forms of managing and living life to the fullest. Formed 1992, ITG-TheGroup extends management services, education & training, and advocacy activities in the areas of: quality management-ISO implementation, organic agriculture, cooperatives, sustainable development, Vedic culture, good governance, among others. (September 25, 2010)

 

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