1. TQM is *not* unsuitable to Western thought
Total quality management has nothing (necessarily) to do with concensus
building, living in a hive, or the deemphasis of individual creativity.
If an organization (in Japan, say) uses a concensus-oriented design
process, they can improve this process by documenting and monitoring it.
It would be a mistake to confuse the particular process the company
implemented with the TQM techniques they used to improve it. TQM is
not a development process, but a methodology for improving a(ny) process.
2. TQM is *not* strict hierarchical control
To fully deploy total quality management, each workgroup has to have
control over its own process. Management can't tell a workgroup how
to do their jobs; management doesn't know how the workgroup does its
job. They can't, because they aren't there doing it. Heavy-handed
management oversteering is probably the second leading cause of failure
of TQM programs. (Management inattention is the leading cause).
To become successful at implementing TQM, senior management must give
up authority and control to individual workgroups consisting sometimes
of much lower-paid workers. Well-implemented TQM programs are the
friend of the individual, and have the potential to be even more
powerful in the individual-oriented West than they were in Japan.
If management refuses to give up control to process teams, the processes
cannot be optimized, and processes that cross management lines will
never even be analyzed. Some gains in quality may occur, but at the
ultimate cost of the organization's spirit. Nobody likes to have some
yahoo telling them their job.
3. TQM is *not* anathema to creative people
Documenting and tracking processes doesn't have to take hours per week
and reams of paperwork. Data collection and process description can
take place incrementally at small cost. Even creative people are known
to use tools to aid their memory, and a well designed monitoring process
is a help, not a hindrance. Tracking processes that take a bunch of
time or are onerous to the people in the workgroup are damaged processes
in need of reengineering.
People who believe that writing down and following plans is a waste of
time are people who have no experience with effective plans. Instead of
rejecting TQM, maybe they should look at the plans they didn't write down
or couldn't follow, to see what was wrong with them. Writing plans and
improving processes are also examples of processes that can be improved.
People who believe a TQM program is penalizing them for creativity might
try getting the program changed so they are no longer penalized. Of
course, these programs are likely to measure whether people can in fact
be creative, or are just sucking wind.
It turns out there are people in the universe with an inflated belief
in their own talent, and an endless list of excuses for why their talent
is not observable. Such people tend to become uncomfortable in
organizations with a capability for verifying boasts of talent. The
weird thing is, in a culture which embraces TQM, all that happens to
these people is that their excuses disappear. They go on working at
the (now known) level of their actual talent, and they learn something
I have worked with very talented, creative people, who loved (the idea
if not always the implementation of) TQM because it allowed them to
spend more time creatively solving hard problems and less on fixing
stupid mistakes that everybody makes when there is no force preventing it.
There are far more bad examples of TQM implementation around than there are
good examples. Doing it right requires convincing an entire organization to
change, to pay attention to things they have been comfortable ignoring, but
which they pretty much know are good ideas. Strange modes of thinking like
good manners and respect for the individual, like trusting the other members
of the team to do the work they're paid for. Crazy ideas like checking once
in a while to see if you are actually doing the good job you think you are,
and like asking the people who use your output what they think.
Kurt (TQM Evangelist) Guntheroth
> 2. TQM is *not* strict hierarchical control
TQM is effective management, which involves control as one aspect. And if your
organization is a hierarchy, then it must be an effective one if TQM is
actually working. But you can use other organizational structures.
Policy Deployment is the most obvious top-down (and bottom up) quality system.
It involves an effective system to communicate and accomplish the strategy of
your organization. It uses the formal structure you have in place, whatever
> There are far more bad examples of TQM implementation around than there are
> good examples. Doing it right requires convincing an entire organization to
> change, to pay attention to things they have been comfortable ignoring, but
> which they pretty much know are good ideas. Strange modes of thinking like
> good manners and respect for the individual, like trusting the other members
> of the team to do the work they're paid for. Crazy ideas like checking once
> in a while to see if you are actually doing the good job you think you are,
> and like asking the people who use your output what they think.
> Kurt (TQM Evangelist) Guntheroth
Many good points!
Can someone please explain the difference between TQM and plain
= = = =
= Charles W. Stump II = Leverage Technologists Inc. = Reverse Engineering, =
= = = Reengineering, and =
= = = Quality Engineering =
= Sr. Software Engineer = PO Box 4638 = tools and services. =
= = Rockville, MD 20849-4638 = =
= cst...@levtech.com = (301)309-8783 = =
= = in...@levtech.com = =
In article <CMIn7...@maunakea.Data-IO.COM> ku...@Data-IO.COM (Kurt Guntheroth) writes:
>It distresses me that so many people fear TQM and CMM as tools of
>oppression. Yet many people have horror stories of implementations
>that have served only to crush the spirit of engineering organizations.
>Allow me to post a dissenting opinion. TQM may be the ultimate tool in
>support of individual creativity ever devised, if just implemented fully.
However, using the same words, an insensitive or foolish authoritariam
management can terrorize their work force and drive their departments/
companies into bankruptcy.
>2. TQM is *not* strict hierarchical control
<excellent paragraph omitted>
> To become successful at implementing TQM, senior management must give
> up authority and control to individual workgroups consisting sometimes
> of much lower-paid workers. Well-implemented TQM programs are the
Actually, I'd say that management has to redefine what they see as the
appropriate areas of their authority. Management has a specific job to
do - to manage the overall functions of the company; some have to provide
the vision of reacting to changing conditions. Management still needs to
exert authority for "business decisions" - if we have only limited
resources, do we choose not to do one possible job, or do we staff up?
Management does not, however, tell those they manage how to do the job.
>3. TQM is *not* anathema to creative people
Kurt has mentioned several problems here - damaged processes (including
built-in demotivators for doing a good job), posturing by incompetents (or
those afraid they are incompetent), and resistence from those who are
undisciplined and don't want to be disciplined (that is, don't want to
write down a plan and be responsible for either following it or admitting
they changed their mind/didn't do what they said they were going to do).
The spin I put on TQM and creativity is: TQM/CMM/good 'standard' processes
let you use your creativity for the challenging problems - not for how you
do things you've done daily or weekly. (Of course, you can apply your
creativity to improving even your standard processes; but you need a
baseline to start to improve.)
> is not observable. Such people tend to become uncomfortable in
> organizations with a capability for verifying boasts of talent. The
> weird thing is, in a culture which embraces TQM, all that happens to
> these people is that their excuses disappear. They go on working at
> the (now known) level of their actual talent, and they learn something
> about themselves.
> I have worked with very talented, creative people, who loved (the idea
> if not always the implementation of) TQM because it allowed them to
> spend more time creatively solving hard problems and less on fixing
> stupid mistakes that everybody makes when there is no force preventing it.
Not only that, but truly professional individuals will shine because their
professionalism becomes apparent in inspections, action plans completed,
Thanks, Kurt, for an interesting post.
TQM is one of the many systems introduced over the years that tries to
organize common sense and put it into a form that can be learned and
remembered. We organize much of our life with these "mnemonic" models:
calendars, street maps, "I'm OK, You're OK", etc. As described in
their book "Understanding People: Models and Concepts" (University
Associates, 1977), Boshear and Albrecht note that the operational
definition of a model is a conceptual framework that:
- Has a definite scope, encompassing a particular body of information
from the real world;
- Defines the data elements within its scope of application;
- Structures the information in a way that can be diagrammed;
- Describes relationships between the data elements; and
- Permits inferences that can be demonstrated by real-world
TQM is a model that packages a certain set of common-sense management
concepts into a compact form we can learn and remember. It is not the
first such package and will most certainly not be the last. It is a
useful model for understanding problems and potential solutions to
quality in products or services.
Like other such packages of the past, TQM ceases to be useful when it
stops describing a philosophy (a way of thinking) and starts becoming a
system of forms, checklists, structured experiences, etc. One example
I've observed involves the term TQM ("total quality management") and
one of the principles: No mottos. One large organization, on the
apparent whim of a higher-up who said "We don't want managers, we want
leaders" (or something to that effect), adopted "total quality
leadership" (TQL) as its system. That approach, putting a motto
ahead of fitting in with the common terminology, demonstrates to me
that the leaders (or managers) of the organization didn't understand
a basic TQM principle.
Michael D. Shapiro, Ph.D. Internet: msha...@nosc.mil
Code 4123, NCCOSC RDT&E Division (NRaD) San Diego CA 92152
Voice: (619) 553-4080 FAX: (619) 553-4808 DSN: 553-4080
(Organization name changed from NOSC in January 1992.)
1) No one pays for a "common sense" consultant :-) ;-)
2) TQM (depending on the consultant) tries to suggest mechanisms for
quantitative analysis, so that when your common sense and my
common sense don't agree, we can make progress instead of
hashing over opinions.