Total Quality Management, or TQM, is a management approach in which an entire organization aims deliver value to its customers through continuous improvement and is a concept that we have incorporated into our culture at Gembadesk.
This post is the first in a series that explores TQM, it history, its role in manufacturing, and how we have incorporated it into the way we manage technology.
According to modern researchers TQM is a milestone towards a learning organization (Wang, Ahmed 2003). In fact, TQM and learning organizations are mutually dependent. TQM’s main tenets are the pursuit of continuous improvement. Practised both as a philosophy and a set of techniques, TQM enables organizations to focus on meeting and satisfying customer needs by improving processes, understanding the internal customer concept, involving each individual employee,implementing organizational wide training and development and concentrating on improvements in cost, quality and customer satisfaction.
The Deming Management Method is a type of TQM with its foundation in statistical analysis and quality control. When W. Edwards Deming visited Japan in the early 1950s it was to teach Japanese industry quality control methods using statistics. After delivering dozens of standing-room-only lectures he quickly realized that while statistical analysis is important for technicians, the lessons would quickly fade if it did not have the support of senior management. Without a culturally-ingrained commitment to quality and support from senior leaders, any quality control techniques would be forgotten (Walton, 1986). Developing a corporate culture based on improving quality though continuous improvement is the defining feature of Total Quality Management (TQM) and it is largely thanks to Deming’s influence that Japanese industry took off in the 1950s and continued to accelerate through the following decades.
Deming’s approach to Total Quality Management (TQM) remains relevant decades after his research. His method was so influential in Japanese industry that the Japanese created a coveted award for industrial quality management in his name. Created in 1951, The Deming Prize was awarded to the company or individual who demonstrated industry-leading Total Quality Management. It was through the adoption of Deming’s philosophies and methodologies that Toyota went on to create the Toyota Way and the Toyota Production System. Upon receiving the American Society for Quality’s Deming Medal in 2005, Shoichiro Toyoda, former chairman of the Toyota Motor Corporation, acknowledged the influence of Deming’s methods and philosophies on the development of The Toyota Way and the Toyota Production System (Toyoda, 2005). After receiving the Deming Application Prize in 1965, Toyota continued to apply Deming’s principles of continuous improvement (Toyoda, 2005). In his acceptance speech, Toyoda credited Deming’s teachings as playing a central role in the success of the Toyota Motor Corporation. “I believe that TMC today is a result of our continued efforts to implement positive change in pursuit of the Deming Prize” (Toyoda, “Deming Medal Acceptance Speech”, 2005 as cited in “ASQ: About: Deming Medal”). In the 21st century he reminded us to “simply put quality first and follow through with the honest practice of developing quality products and quality people”. (Toyoda, “Deming Medal Acceptance Speech”, 2005 as cited in “ASQ: About: Deming Medal”)
Focusing on product quality is as important for startups as it is for established companies. An established organization has to undergo an expensive organizational change if it decides to implement TQM principles but a startup has the freedom and ability to embed TQM in its culture as it grows. As Deming’s influence with the Japanese has shown, a corporate culture focused on improving quality can have a direct influence in overall organizational success.
The Deming Management Method identifies Fourteen Points that companies should follow in order to be successful and Seven Deadly Diseases to avoid (Walton, 1986). According to this method, a dedication to quality improvement initiates a chain reaction that results in a healthy industry providing jobs to workers.