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Total Quality Management: “no defects, no errors”

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The approach of TQM (Total Quality Management) was born in Japan only to be quickly developed and applied on a large scale in the early ’80s in the US, from initial ideas of Edward Deming and Joseph Juran, make it one of pillars of their industrial revival. The main assumption according to this philosophy is to achieve the goal (mission) by the company of the whole enterprise. This implies the involvement and mobilization of employees and the reduction of waste in an optical optimization efforts. This implies that things are done right the first time and that defects and waste are slowly, slowly reduced until it is eliminated. TQM is therefore based on the participation of all members of an organization in order to achieve a long-term success through customer satisfaction and benefits all to the benefit of the workers and the company. According to the Japanese Total Quality Management it consists of four processes:

  • the Kaizen: focuses on continuous improvement;
  • the Atarimae Hinshitsu: focuses on the fact that things should work exactly as you expect them to do, on the effects of intangible processes and how to optimize them;
  • the Kansei: by analyzing the ways in which a user uses a product, leading to the improvement of the product;
  • the Miryokuteki Hinshitsu: develops the idea that objects should also have an aesthetic quality.

Since 1987 have been adopted voluntary standards designed to secure the necessary requirements for the organizations towards a quality approach (approach, however, it remains according to most interpretations and applications far above that provided by TQM). In the UNI EN ISO 9004: 2000 (and 9001: 2008) have defined the eight principles of quality management:

  1. Customer focus
  2. Leadership
  3. Involvement of people
  4. Process approach
  5. System approach to management
  6. Continuous Improvement
  7. Decisions based on facts: sales analysis, statistical and marketing analysis, customer feedback, macro and micro economic indicators.
  8. Mutually beneficial with suppliers.

A company that decides to implement the logic of TQM is faced with two choices: change the system or change the culture. The intervention on the systems implies that the requirements set by ISO 9000, through systematic documentation and continuous monitoring. The work on culture implies the definition of the aforementioned “mission” and some “guiding values” that encourage a new attitude towards work and towards customers including:

  • the increased responsibility of employees and continuous improvement (introduction of teams and workgroups for solving problems, with the constant improvement of products and services);
  • improve the production process with methods of statistical control;
  • redefining the role of supervision by giving supervisors the opportunity to indicate to management weaknesses on which to act.

Actually many companies consider the application of TQM extra costs that sometimes should avoid. In this regard it is not only to assess the economic burden in implementing such an approach but rather what it would cost in terms of organizational efficiency, customer satisfaction and especially in terms of more or less competitive. It is because the Total Quality Management is certainly a source of competitive advantage for the company based on a comprehensive and coherent approach involving all business functions; a strategy geared towards total quality has as objective the satisfaction of all stakeholders (customers, suppliers and the social partners, employees, management and shareholders). The company output is no longer just the product / service: the company produces quality.

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