Total Quality Management :: Overview Click here to go to the homepage
What is it?
The term TQM was coined by a US Navy Officer in the early 80s. TQM also owes its origin to Dr. Armand Feigenbaum and his book 'Total Quality Control'. This term was immediately taken up in Japan and is to this day, the term used to describe their approach to Quality Management. It is quite different to the interpretation implied in TQM and embraces both Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing. TQM is an approach for continuously improving the quality of goods and services delivered through the participation of all levels and functions of the organization.  
Why is it important?
TQM is about building quality in from the beginning and making quality everyone's concern and responsibility. Consumers are willing to pay a premium for higher-quality goods and services. Organizations that employ TQM (or a similar philosophy) work on the premise that any product or service can be improved upon and this improvement equals reduced cost, better performance and higher reliability.
When to use it?
When there is a chance of your product or service becoming a commodity.
How to use it?
Each organization must tailor its approach to exploit strengths and concentrate on weaknesses. Activities that are necessary include:
1. A realization that in a global marketplace, customer satisfaction is the key to survival and success.
2. Understanding that quality improvement is key to increased customer satisfaction, increased productivity and reduced cost. Have a clear well-defined objective.
3. The commitment of a leader to the philosophy of TQM.
4. A change in the organization's culture to accept the tenets of TQM. Beware of people who use quality to establish fiefdoms and people who remain in powerful positions but don't get with the program.
5. Training from top to bottom. Use the "five-why's". Use statistics wisely and where appropriate.
6. Try not to do too much too soon.
7. Don't take a cookie-cutter approach. Limit the number of consultants and train your employees internally.
8. Focus on the low-hanging fruit.
Food for Thought !
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