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The culture and attitudes need changing if total quality management (TQM) is to succeed and as Crosby says, "changing mind sets is the hardest of management jobs" but the first factor Crosby feels is the need for recognition by senior management that "quality is an achievable, measurable, profitable entity that can be installed once you have commitment and understanding and are prepared to work hard". Quality improvement has no chance unless the individuals are ready to recognize that improvement is necessary.
Some firms, such as Ford Motor Company, International Business Machines (IBM), International Computer Limited (JCL) and others have recognized the need for improved quality not only in the manufacturing process but throughout the firm. At the end of the 1970s and into the 1980s quality improvement programmes were initiated and implemented with varying degrees of success, following the philosophies and teachings of quality masters such as Crosby, Deming, Juran and later on Taguchi. Each master has his own theory with many themes overlapping with others to achieve the same goal.
Since the Second World War, Japan has became a dominant factor in world trade having consistently applied the principles of quality management and expanding the terms of competition beyond productivity, e.g. convenience, variety, customization. Furthermore, both Deming and Juran argued for a broadened view of quality control, beyond manufacturing processes, to become an integral part of management control systems.
This article provides an insight of how a large manufacturing company is laying down the foundations for implementing TQM to achieve competitive supremacy. The concept of TQM is explained and defined.
Total quality management
Today, TQM is much more all embracing than the quality assurance or quality control approaches which preceded it. TQM essentially differs from it in that it is a:
* different perception of what quality is and how we define it;
* new appreciation of the impact of quality on productivity, cost and competitiveness;
* different view of who is responsible for quality;
* new understanding of how we achieve quality. These features all positively influence customer focus, employee empowerment, organizational culture and orient towards continuous improvement. TQM is a term which embraces much of current best practice in manufacturing Its scope has broadened from its early concentration on statistical monitoring of manufacturing processes. The Japanese have invented and adopted many managerial techniques; to name a few would include just-in-time inventory control, flexible manufacturing systems, the emphasis on customer service (both internal and external customers), and a change in the way people work which emphasizes teamwork, training and greater employee responsibility and involvement in the work process. These are all related devices aimed at reorienting the production process so that it delivers products and services of consistent quality, in a timely fashion, which at least meet customer requirements. The focus on the customer - as a direct result of competition - is one of the main areas into which TQM has developed over the past few years. Domestic and global markets have become increasingly competitive. Severe challenges face industry with "price, marketing skills and long-standing relationships no longer guaranteeing success". To survive companies are having to become more flexible, responsive and adaptable.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) claims that "although British firms have a good reputation for their product quality and perform well, our overall reputation and lack of demand for our goods show that there are many more that do not". Competitiveness, they believe, is the key to future successes. Therefore, by offering customers a total quality package a company can gain a competitive edge. The DTI states that Britain's declining share of the world trade is having a dramatic effect on the standards of living, demonstrated by rising unemployment and bankruptcies. Demand for British goods no longer happens automatically - it has to be created - but declining shares of home markets has shown that even the British prefer foreign products. The disastrous effect on living standards is underlined with the UK being ranked only tenth among 15 top industrial nations in 1980. Rising consumer expectations are forcing industries to re-evaluate existing practices …