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School of Lean

Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total qual­i­ty man­age­ment (TQM) is a man­age­ment prac­tice that seeks to derive long-term suc­cess from an orga­ni­za­tion-wide focus on qual­i­ty improve­ment and over­all cus­tomer satisfaction.

In order for TQM to be suc­cess­ful­ly imple­ment­ed, all mem­bers of a com­pa­ny or orga­ni­za­tion must buy into the process with total engage­ment. Every­one from floor work­ers to the C‑suite must be com­plete­ly ded­i­cat­ed to improv­ing process­es, prod­ucts, ser­vices, and the cul­ture in which they work.

TQM is a strate­gic, data-dri­ven method that incor­po­rates effec­tive orga­ni­za­tion-wide com­mu­ni­ca­tion to insti­tute a cul­ture of dis­ci­pline and engage­ment at full scale.

What Is TQM and How Does It Work?

What is TQM and where did it orig­i­nate? Total qual­i­ty man­age­ment was devel­oped in Japan in the 1950s. Dr. Joseph M. Juran, the father of sev­er­al qual­i­ty man­age­ment tech­niques, believes the term enter­prise excel­lence” is a more pre­cise trans­la­tion for TQM.

While enter­prise excel­lence implies an orga­ni­za­tion-wide stan­dard, it is impor­tant to remem­ber that the total” in TQM refers to the entire oper­a­tion — every employ­ee, team, and depart­ment, from top to bot­tom — must be involved in the discipline.

The con­cepts that TQM arose from were devel­oped in the 1920s when the sci­ence of sta­tis­tics was applied to indus­tri­al qual­i­ty con­trol for the first time. After West­ern Elec­tric and Bell Tele­phone Lab­o­ra­to­ries engi­neer Wal­ter A. She­whart cre­at­ed a sta­tis­ti­cal con­trol chart for pro­duc­tion, many began call­ing it the She­whart cycle.

This became the Dem­ing cycle — named after W. Edwards Dem­ing, who is referred to as the father of TQM — and lat­er the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) method, which became one of the found­ing prin­ci­ples of Lean thinking.

Dem­ing devel­oped Shewhart’s sta­tis­ti­cal qual­i­ty con­trol mea­sures in post-World War II Japan’s recon­struc­tion dur­ing the 1940s and 1950s.

Both Dem­ing and Juran taught these new sta­tis­ti­cal qual­i­ty con­trol con­cepts in Japan, and many experts have cit­ed the wide­spread adop­tion of TQM in Japan as hav­ing a sig­nif­i­cant impact on the nation’s eco­nom­ic recov­ery and long-term eco­nom­ic suc­cess after the war.

In the Unit­ed States, many orga­ni­za­tions began to apply TQM prin­ci­ples and oth­er qual­i­ty man­age­ment tech­niques in the 1970s and 1980s, and they helped lead to mod­ern prac­tices like Six Sig­ma and Lean man­u­fac­tur­ing, which are more direct­ly adapt­able to orga­ni­za­tions and indus­tries of the mod­ern era.

There are a num­ber of ways TQM helps orga­ni­za­tions achieve high­er-qual­i­ty prod­ucts, more sat­is­fied cus­tomers, and greater long-term suc­cess, but the key is a reliance on mea­sur­able, empir­i­cal data to keep team mem­bers account­able to the process and com­pre­hen­sive strate­gies for sys­tem­at­ic improvement.

Orga­ni­za­tions must define process­es of pro­duc­tion or knowl­edge work that rep­re­sent oppor­tu­ni­ties for improve­ment — where waste can be elim­i­nat­ed and effi­cien­cy improved. Orga­ni­za­tions must then con­tin­u­ous­ly mon­i­tor and mea­sure the per­for­mance of these process­es, using that data to dri­ve their com­pre­hen­sive improve­ment strat­e­gy and implementation.

While TQM was ini­tial­ly imple­ment­ed in the man­u­fac­tur­ing indus­try, its appli­ca­tion in ser­vice and knowl­edge work has increased sig­nif­i­cant­ly over the years, and it is now used in all industries.

TQM can move any orga­ni­za­tion clos­er to long-term suc­cess and busi­ness excellence.

Tqm board room meeting

The Eight Principles of TQM

Let’s go over the eight major total qual­i­ty man­age­ment prin­ci­ples and their purpose:

1. Customer Focus

The cus­tomer is always right, right? In TQM, the ulti­mate focus is the customer’s sat­is­fac­tion. Cus­tomers deter­mine whether your efforts in process improve­ment prove wise — regard­less of what you think of your prac­tices, the cus­tomer deter­mines the lev­el of qual­i­ty in the prod­uct.

This means the only way to know if your TQM efforts are suc­cess­ful is to receive feed­back direct­ly from cus­tomers. This can be direct, such as in the form of a sur­vey or review, or indi­rect, using stats like return rates and oth­er data.

2. Total Employee Involvement

Employ­ees must be engaged and empow­ered to make their own deci­sions, so good man­age­ment is essen­tial. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the top of the orga­ni­za­tion to the bot­tom must empha­size com­mon goals and total com­mit­ment.

Pro­vid­ing teams with a sense of auton­o­my and a clear, trans­par­ent set of achiev­able goals is the best way to devel­op an orga­ni­za­tion-wide cul­ture of engagement.

3. Process Approach

Process think­ing is a major key of TQM. A sys­tem will fail unless there is a clear focus on devel­op­ing an opti­mal process. Most prob­lems can be attrib­uted to fail­ures in the process.

Process­es must be clear­ly defined, mea­sured, and mon­i­tored in order to iden­ti­fy and cor­rect vari­ances and achieve total buy-in at every lev­el of the organization.

4. Integrated System

Ver­ti­cal­ly struc­tured orga­ni­za­tions must have a com­plete­ly inte­grat­ed — and hor­i­zon­tal­ly inter­con­nect­ed — sys­tem in order to achieve effec­tive total qual­i­ty man­age­ment.

All process­es, at every lev­el of the orga­ni­za­tion, must be defined, mea­sured, and mon­i­tored as part of a cohe­sive qual­i­ty man­age­ment oper­a­tion. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion between depart­ments must be con­stant and all employ­ees should share the ulti­mate com­mon goal of cus­tomer satisfaction.

5. Strategic and Systematic Approach

A clear strat­e­gy that is sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly rolled out at every lev­el of the orga­ni­za­tion is a crit­i­cal part of qual­i­ty man­age­ment.

The for­mu­la­tion of a strate­gic approach to process and sys­tem improve­ment with a core focus on the qual­i­ty of the fin­ished prod­uct is essen­tial, and this strate­gic plan­ning must be clear­ly defined and com­mu­ni­cat­ed to every­one involved.

6. Continual Improvement

The con­tin­u­al improve­ment of process­es is a key aspect of qual­i­ty man­age­ment — and it dri­ves the growth of the process. Orga­ni­za­tions must con­stant­ly mea­sure and ana­lyze process­es, iden­ti­fy­ing new oppor­tu­ni­ties for improve­ment.

The prin­ci­ples of Six Sig­ma and Lean work hand-in-hand with qual­i­ty man­age­ment, imple­ment­ing an orga­ni­za­tion­al cul­ture of con­tin­u­ous improve­ment that push­es every­one in the orga­ni­za­tion to iden­ti­fy and reduce waste and lim­it vari­ances in the process. This leads not only to a more effi­cient oper­a­tion but also increased cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion with the product.

7. Fact-Based Decision-Making

Reliance on empir­i­cal, sta­tis­ti­cal data and mea­sur­able, fact-based report­ing is cru­cial to imple­ment­ing opti­mal qual­i­ty man­age­ment. Opin­ions are of no val­ue in qual­i­ty man­age­ment — even those of cus­tomers — unless they are backed up by rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion such as sales data, rev­enue growth, return rates, and cus­tomer reten­tion.

Qual­i­ty per­for­mance must be con­sis­tent­ly mea­sured with defined met­rics. Data must be con­tin­u­al­ly col­lect­ed and ana­lyzed in order to con­tin­u­al­ly improve process­es and pre­dict — and con­quer — future obsta­cles and blockers.

8. Communications

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion must be clear, con­stant, and orga­ni­za­tion-wide in order for qual­i­ty man­age­ment mea­sures to suc­ceed. Every mem­ber of the orga­ni­za­tion must know the strat­e­gy, time­lines, and goals — not only what they are being asked to do, but also why they are doing it.

Effec­tive wide-scale com­mu­ni­ca­tion with­in an orga­ni­za­tion allows it to adapt to changes, improve process­es more effi­cient­ly, and main­tain a high lev­el of morale, since every employ­ee is aware of their part in the over­all strategy.

Benefits of Incorporating TQM to Workflow

TQM engages every employ­ee — at all lev­els of your orga­ni­za­tion — in a wide­spread focus on qual­i­ty man­age­ment and con­tin­u­al process improve­ment, help­ing to cre­ate a strong orga­ni­za­tion­al cul­ture and fos­ter long-term success.

Total qual­i­ty man­age­ment prin­ci­ples can also help orga­ni­za­tions iden­ti­fy waste and vari­ance in process­es, defi­cien­cies in employ­ees, and com­mu­ni­ca­tion gaps.

The increased com­mu­ni­ca­tion from insti­tut­ing TQM prin­ci­ples gives every employ­ee a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the orga­ni­za­tion as a whole and pro­vides greater orga­ni­za­tion­al flex­i­bil­i­ty, while build­ing a cul­ture focused on teamwork.

Here are a few of the key benefits:

  • Less vari­ance in prod­ucts and processes
  • Greater effi­cien­cy and low­er pro­duc­tion costs
  • A strong, cohe­sive orga­ni­za­tion­al culture
  • High­ly sat­is­fied customers

What You’ll Learn in This TQM Course

In many orga­ni­za­tions, qual­i­ty con­trol is mere­ly respon­si­ble for mon­i­tor­ing and main­tain­ing a cer­tain lev­el of qual­i­ty in a fin­ished prod­uct — it doesn’t improve qual­i­ty through­out the orga­ni­za­tion.

This is a missed oppor­tu­ni­ty to improve the long-term cus­tomer expe­ri­ence by build­ing a strong orga­ni­za­tion­al cul­ture of TQM and con­tin­u­ous improve­ment. After all, many fac­tors affect cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion — not just the fin­ished prod­uct.

This course will teach you how to move your orga­ni­za­tion from a prod­uct focus to an enter­prise focus, man­ag­ing qual­i­ty at all lev­els while improv­ing prod­ucts, ser­vices, and processes.

Tqm pawns

Benefits of Gemba Academy’s TQM Course

Oth­er ben­e­fits of Gem­ba Academy’s TQM course include:

  • Reduced Risk

    Reduc­ing and mit­i­gat­ing risk when devel­op­ing new prod­ucts or process­es — or adapt­ing to indus­try-wide changes

  • High­er Quality

    Resolv­ing typ­i­cal defects and vari­ance in operations

  • For­ward Thinking

    Pre­dict­ing future trends and under­stand­ing how to adapt to them seam­less­ly at scale

  • Orga­ni­za­tion­al Gains

    Increase employ­ee pro­duc­tiv­i­ty at all levels