Total quality management is a much broader concept than just controlling the quality of the product itself. Total quality management is the coordination of efforts directed at improving customer satisfaction, increasing employee participation, strengthening supplier partnerships, and facilitating an organizational atmosphere of continuous quality improvement. TQM is a way of thinking about organizations and how people should relate and work in them. TQM is not merely a technique, but a philosophy anchored in the belief that long‐term success depends on a uniform commitment to quality in all sectors of an organization.
Major Contributors to TQM
W. Edwards Deming
The concept of quality started in Japan when the country began to rebuild after World War II. Amidst the bomb rubble, Japan embraced the ideas of W. Edwards Deming, an American whose methods and theories are credited for Japan's postwar recovery. Ironically enough, Deming's ideas were initially scoffed at in the U.S. As a result, TQM took root in Japan 30 years earlier than in the United States. American companies took interest in Deming's ideas only when they began having trouble competing with the Japanese in the 1980s.
Deming's management system was philosophical, based on continuous improvement toward the perfect ideal. He believed that a commitment to quality requires transforming the entire organization. His philosophy is based on a system known as the Fourteen Points. These points express the actions an organization must take in order to achieve TQM:
Create constancy of purpose for improvement of product and service. Dr. Deming suggests a radical new definition of a company's role: A better way to make money is to stay in business and provide jobs through innovation, research, constant improvement, and maintenance.
Adopt a new philosophy. For the new economic age, companies need to change into “learning organizations.” Furthermore, we need a new belief in which mistakes and negativism are unacceptable.
Cease dependence on mass inspection. Eliminate the need for mass inspection by building quality into the product.
End awarding business on price. Instead, aim at minimum total cost, and move towards single suppliers.
Improve the system of production and service constantly. Improvement is not a one‐time effort. Management is obligated to continually look for ways to reduce waste and improve quality.
Institute training. Too often, workers learn their jobs from other workers who have never been trained properly.
Institute leadership. Leading consists of helping people to do a better job and to learn by objective methods.
Drive out fear. Many employees are afraid to ask questions or to take a position—even when they do not understand what their job is or what is right or wrong. The economic losses from fear are appalling. To assure better quality and productivity, it is necessary that people feel secure.
Break down barriers between departments. Often, company departments or units compete with each other or have goals that conflict. They do not work as a team; therefore they cannot solve or foresee problems. Even worse, one department's goal may cause trouble for another.
Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and numerical targets for the workforce. These never help anybody do a good job. Let workers formulate their own slogans; then they will be committed to the contents.
Eliminate numerical quotas or work standards. Quotas take into account only numbers, not quality or methods. They are usually a guarantee of inefficiency and high cost.
Remove barriers that prevent workers from taking pride in their workmanship. Too often, misguided supervisors, faulty equipment, and defective materials stand in the way of good performance. These barriers must be removed.
Institute a vigorous program of education. Both management and the work force will have to be informed of new knowledge and techniques.
Take action to accomplish the transformation. It will require a special top management team with a plan of action to carry out the quality mission. Workers cannot do it on their own, nor can managers. A critical mass of people in the company must understand the Fourteen Points.
Deming emphasized surveying customers, consulting production‐line workers to help solve quality problems, and teamwork. His system was readily accepted in Japan, where workers and management were used to uniformity and allegiance to institutions. Japanese companies learned to collect data for the statistical monitoring and measuring of customer satisfaction. The goals of these companies were to produce many of the same consumer goods—better and cheaper—that were produced in the U.S. These Japanese companies succeeded, much to the chagrin of companies in the U.S.
Deming saw businesses as bedrock institutions in a society—much like churches and schools. Companies attain long‐term success only if business leaders make their employees' contributions matter. If organizations use their employees' ideas, they will improve efficiency and productivity.
Most of the applications of Deming's ideas occurred in the 1950s and 1960s in Japan. In the United States, the desperation needed for executives to finally try a “radical” plan such as Deming's came from economic rather than wartime defeats. Most notably, in the 1980s, Japanese car manufacturers pushed their market share toward 25 percent, sending fear throughout Detroit. The Ford Motor Co. called on Deming after NBC featured his successes in a documentary, “If Japan Can, Why Can't We?” Deming took Ford's invitation as notice that his home country was finally ready for his program. He continued teaching seminars until his death, at age 93, in 1993.
Deming's system made such an impression that he is known at the Father of TQM.
Following are some other significant quality experts and their works:
Joseph M. Juran wrote The Quality Control Handbook. Recognized in Japan with the Order of Sacred Treasure. Followers: DuPont, Monsanto, Mobil.
Armand V. Feigenbaum wrote Total Quality Control. Argued that quality should be company‐wide, not confined to the quality control departments.
Philip B. Crosby wrote Quality Is Free.
Michael Hammer and James Champy wrote Reengineering the Corporation.
James Champy wrote Reengineering Management.
Peter Drucker wrote Post‐Capitalist Society.
Although several individuals (mentioned above) contributed to the concept of TQM, the three mostly widely cited “masters” of quality are W. Edwards Deming (1900–1993), Joseph M. Juran, and Philip Crosby. Even though each has promoted the importance of quality emphasis, their ideas and backgrounds are not always consistent.
Joseph Juran started out professionally as an engineer in 1924. In 1951, his first Quality Control Handbook was published and led him to international prominence.
The Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) invited Juran to Japan in the early 1950s. He arrived in 1954 and conducted seminars for top‐ and middle‐level executives. His lectures had a strong managerial flavor and focused on planning, organizational issues, management's responsibility for quality, and the need to set goals and targets for improvement. He emphasized that quality control should be conducted as an integral part of management control.
Intrinsic to Juran's message is the belief that quality does not happen by accident; it must be planned. Juran sees quality planning as part of the quality trilogy of quality planning, quality control, and quality improvement. The key elements in implementing company‐wide strategic quality planning are in turn seen as: identifying customers and their needs; establishing optimal quality goals; creating measurements of quality; planning processes capable of meeting quality goals under operating conditions; and producing continuing results in improved market share, premium prices, and a reduction of error rates in the office and factory.
Juran's formula for results is to establish specific goals to be reached, and then to establish plans for reaching those goals; assign clear responsibility for meeting the goals; and base the rewards on results achieved.
Juran believes that the majority of quality problems are the fault of poor management, not poor workmanship, and that long‐term training to improve quality should start at the top with senior management.
Philip Crosby is another major contributor to the quality movement. In 1979, he left ITT (International Telephone and Telegraph) and wrote his book, Quality is Free, in which he argues that dollars spent on quality and the attention paid to it always return greater benefits than the costs expended on them. Whereas Deming and Juran emphasized the sacrifice required for a quality commitment, Crosby takes a less philosophical and more practical approach, asserting instead that high quality is relatively easy and inexpensive in the long run.
Crosby is the only American quality expert without a doctorate. He is responsible for the zero defects program, which emphasizes “doing it right the first time,” (DIRFT) with 100 percent acceptable output. Unlike Deming and Juran, Crosby argues that quality is always cost effective. Like Deming and Juran, Crosby does not place the blame on workers, but on management.
Crosby also developed a 14‐point program, which is again more practical than philosophical. It provides managers with actual concepts that can help them manage productivity and quality. His program is built around four Absolutes of Quality Management:
- Quality must be viewed as conformance to specifications. If a product meets design specifications, then it is a high‐quality product.
- Quality should be achieved through the prevention of defects rather than inspection after the production process is complete.
- According to Crosby, the traditional quality control approach taken by American firms is not cost effective. Instead, production workers should be granted the authority and responsibility to ensure that quality goods or services are produced at every step of the process.
- Managers need to demonstrate that a higher standard of performance can lead to perfection—to zero defects. Crosby believed that the company goal should be zero defects.
- Quality should be measured by the price of nonconformity. Crosby contends that the costs associated with achieving quality should be part of a company's financial system.