Sunday, March 29, 2009

TQM and Why It Matters For Your Career.


What is it and why should I care?

Ask ten people that question and you’ll get ten answers. Most responses will indicate that it’s somehow related to quality – which is partially true.

Here’s the version I learned and have been applying for years:

TQM is a business philosophy. It’s more a state of mind than a specific tool or process.

It’s a concept that has become somewhat lost or misconstrued among all the other business improvement acronyms in this day & age - but it belongs at the heart & soul of every company’s culture.

It’ a platform for obtaining and sustaining quality performance at every level in a company (there’s that word “quality”).

It’s a simple way to convey to even the humblest intellects the importance of each and every person and group to a company’s success.

It’s a philosophy that invites, encourages, and requires participation and “ownership” by every employee.

It’s a framework inside which every worthwhile business improvement methodology can be applied.

It can be applied at any level; individually and by group.

It’s a mind-set that encourages people to re-think their jobs in light of their impact upon the total business - at every level.

Each and every application of TQM is unique - reflecting the uniqueness of the person or group applying it and their unique relationship with their “customers”.

It’s intended to address everything a company does – and includes its outside “partners”.

At its core, TQM recognizes that every person and group in every company has “customers”. Those “customers” are all the people and groups inside and outside the company who rely upon them to perform their duties as effectively as possible.

▪ Customers (the ones who buy the products) are “customers”
▪ Employees & groups are “customers” - of other employees & groups
▪ Employees & groups can be each others’ “customers”
▪ Insiders and outsiders (i.e.: Vendors) can be each others’ “customers”

Anything that takes place:
C-Suite, Finance, Operations, Administration, Sales/Marketing
is subject to TQM - Everything!

At its core, TQM is applied by getting people to recognize who all of their “customers’ are, and then encouraging them to re-think how they can better-serve those “customers”.

It’s a mental discipline that is best-applied in a positive, constructive environment; with some form of motivational reward initially to get the process moving.

Every employee and group has “customers”:
▪ A factory worker who performs a process on a part or assembly has “customers” in the entire process following them; right up to putting the finished product in the hands of the person who ordered it.
▪ A payroll clerk has every other person behind them in Accounting as “customers”, as well as all the other employees who rely on them for their checks.
▪ A salesperson has the people who order the goods as “customers” plus everyone else in the company who relies on them to move product.
▪ A supervisor or manager has “customers” who rely upon the effective performance of their organization.

The TQM concept should be explained from top-down
To managers, then to Supervisors, then to Employees
and then applied in all directions:
Top-Down, Bottom-Up, and Horizontally.

It’s a philosophy that should be permanently instilled, so regular follow-up is necessary.

The method of instruction should be keyed to each audience.

There should be a mechanism for feedback - so that when a motivated employee comes up with a suggestion they have a vehicle for seeing it through.

TQM is nothing more than a philosophical approach for accomplishing what business people have sought time immemorial:

Faster, Better, Cheaper, Smarter, More Efficient, etc.

Its beauty is that it encapsulates in a simple, motivational format a mind-set for business excellence.

As I said earlier, it’s a philosophical approach as opposed to a specific methodology, so let your imagination be your guide as to how you apply it. Just keep in mind that its primary intent is to engage employees – so leave room for them to help shape the process.

Good luck,

Al Walsh CEO/Owner
Walsh Enterprises Business Advisors

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