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Adopting quality management, making a large-scale organizational change, or planning to change the culture of an organization is a big decision for both individual managers and organizations alike, and one that should be made with care. In Cultural issues especially, it is difficult, to recover from false starts or efforts that start with a lot of enthusiasm but begin to wane as employees do not see the changes they are expecting. This journey requires deliberate thought put into action through the use of data to identify and measure the magnitude and effectiveness of cultural improvement and to determine the timing and sequence of specific changes.
This article highlights the experience of Dunlop Tire Corporation. Dunlop has not yet achieved its vision of excellence, but over the last three years, the company has clearly taken steps in the right direction. Dunlop's total quality management (TQM) initiative, "Excellence Through Teamwork" (ETT), focuses on the needs of its customers and its employees and provides a structured approach to achieve long-term operational and cultural improvements.
WHAT IS BENCHMARKING?
As defined by David Kearns, former CEO of the Xerox Corporation and now with the U.S. Department of Education, benchmarking is "the continuous process of measuring products, services, and practices against the toughest competitors or those companies recognized as industry leaders." A joke in the copier industry is that a company can always be sure of two sales for new models: to its own headquarters and to Xerox, which tests nearly all of its competitors' copiers. If another machine performs better, it becomes Xerox's benchmark, or goal for improvement. But Xerox benchmarks move than copiers. For example, the corporation must quickly ship parts for its equipment to hundreds of thousands of customers around the world. Delays and mistakes mean irate customers. Wanting to improve its logistics and distribution functions, Xerox turned to L.L. Bean.
What can a copier manufacturer learn from a catalog sales firm? Plenty - because L.L. Bean has nearly the world's best small-item distribution system. Xerox's genius was to recognize that Bean's system, even though designed for moccasins and tents, could also work for copy machine parts.
Today, many organizations are benchmarking their performance and critical …