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Total Quality Management
Total Quality Management is a comprehensive structured philosophy and approach towards organisational management that aims to continuously improve the quality of products and services to its customers, both internal and external to the organisation or business.
The principles of Total Quality Management were created by the American, Dr W. Edwards Deming, shortly after the end of the Second World War. Although it was Deming, along with Philip Crosby, Kaoru Ishikawa, and Joseph Juran that laid the foundations for TQM, it wasn't until the 1980s that the term was coined, by the United States' Navy. Whilst Deming focused on statistical tools, Juran concentrated on the role of employees in quality management.
The concept of a quality strategy, as developed by Crosby, was to ensure that there was a zero defects, 'get it right first time' approach. Ishikawa expanded upon this to take in, not only the production processes, but the after sales service, and quality of management. His idea of quality control was to apply it to the whole company.
Toyota Motor Corporation established a set of 14 principles and values that underlie their production system and management ideology, which they termed 'The Toyota Way'; and on the basis of this established a worldwide reputation for quality and reliability, becoming one of the world's largest and most successful motor manufacturers. They strived towards 'Kaizen' which is the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement, or change for the better. This philosophy, when applied to the workplace, involves all employees from top to bottom of the organisation.
The 'Toyota Way' principles have since been adopted in business and management practices in all industries throughout the world. Toyota's production system was inspired by visits to American manufacturing companies, including the Ford Motor Company, and observing their production systems. They were unimpressed by Ford's production methodology which included uneven workflows and, in their eyes, unnecessarily large amounts of stock, but conversely, were inspired after visiting a supermarket and observing their practises of only reordering and restocking goods after their products had been sold.
Clearly, for an organisation to improve the quality of its products and services the current methodology must be changed for the better. This needs to be driven from the top, through all the layers of management, right down to the lowest levels of the workforce. One of the most effective strategies is good and early communication. People are naturally resistant to change, they dislike the uncertainty that change brings, it takes them out of their comfort zone, disrupts well established patterns of behaviour, and invokes feelings of fear regarding how the change may affect them, especially where there is a likelihood of job losses as a result. Careful attention must be paid to the emotions such change will elicit as it is the emotional response that may provoke the most resistance. Therefore, it is necessary to manage the change well by including those most affected in the process, explaining to them the reasons behind the changes, the benefits that change will bring to them as individuals and the company as a whole. It is important to engage and consult with union representatives so that the unions and workforce are fully included in any organisational restructuring.
Rationalising and improving a car production line may mean that the production processes are changed to accommodate newer, more efficient machinery and tooling, and shop floor layouts. In order to undertake the new work practices, the workforce may need to become multi-skilled and able to multi-task, carrying out more than one process at a time. To do this well and ensure that high standards of quality are achieved and maintained they ought to be trained properly for the functions that they are required to carry out, and undertake regular refresher courses as necessary. Job rotation may need to be implemented to prevent boredom and/or skill fade. Keeping people together in small teams and involving these teams in quality circles may also help maintain and improve product quality.
For a business to be successful it needs to concentrate, or focus, on a number of areas. One of the most important is its customers, for without its customers a business has no raison d'être. There are two types of customer, the internal customer and the external customer. The internal customer is the entire workforce of a company, whose role is to provide a service or product to the external customer. The external customer is the individual, group or company, which purchases or hires those services or products. The internal customer, the workforce, should be empowered and involved, and made to feel that their contribution to the company is worthwhile; that they are valued members of staff, their wants and needs are given due consideration, and that they are able work in a healthy and productive environment. The external customer must feel that the products or services provided to them are fit for purpose, provide good value for money, and have an acceptable quality for their particular price point.
By focussing on the performance of the whole process, rather than individual departments or procedures, it ought to be possible to ensure that good quality products are consistently delivered in an effective and efficient manner to the customer.
It is important that the product or service meets the needs of the customer. This includes providing the features that the customer actually requires whilst excluding any unnecessary costly ones. Competitors' products need to be compared and assessed in order to differentiate the products and perhaps provide a more unique or individual experience or relationship with the product. Effective branding and marketing is also essential.
Management and leadership of personnel in the workplace is extremely important if an organisation is to function properly. Managers have subordinates and hold a position of authority over them according to the requirements of the company, and use that authority to achieve specific results. Leaders, on the other hand, do not have subordinates, but followers, who are often inspired by the direction their chosen leader wishes to take them, and voluntarily go along with that leader, seeing the benefits to them as an individual or group by doing so.
Motivation is the drive, ambition, or desire for people to achieve or attain a certain goal. There are many reasons how employees can be motivated, including financial incentives, job-security, fringe-benefits, personal responsibility and recognition, self-satisfaction. The Hawthorne Effect may also be used as a tool to improve employee motivation.
For a company to maintain its standards of workmanship and quality it must continually invest, not only in the hardware and tooling that the company requires to manufacture its goods, but in the people it employs to carry out those processes. Therefore it is essential that its employees are given periodic refresher training, or training specific to any new processes or equipment.
Despite devising 'The Toyota Way' and exporting the concept around the world, Toyota has recently been guilty of a number of high profile failures to its renowned quality standards. On a number of separate occasions during 2009/2010 it was forced to recall tens of millions of vehicles worldwide across its model range after they were found to contain a number of safety issues affecting accelerator, braking and engine systems.
The negative publicity generated, which was widely reported in the press and other news media, consequently dented consumer confidence and damaged Toyota's reputation for quality and customer service.
Toyota is not the only motor vehicle manufacturer to issue recalls; Nissan, Peugeot, Citroen, Hyundai, Daihatsu and BMW are some of the other manufacturers that have been forced to recall vehicles over safety issues during 2010 alone; but it is Toyota that has been the most visible, and therefore, newsworthy, of the aforementioned manufacturers.
There are a number of methods in which the quality of a product or process can be improved. One of the well established methods of quality improvement is to implement Kaisen teams or quality circles, which are small groups, around half a dozen individuals, that get together periodically to look at and try to resolve problems and issues. Some of the tools they use include fishbone diagrams to help discover any causes of problems, and Pareto charts to identify specific causes by analysing the frequency that faults occur. Another method of improving quality is to adopt the Six Sigma strategy to identify and remove defects, and to minimise any variability in the manufacturing processes.
In order to successfully implement a Total Quality Management initiative a number of barriers may need to be overcome. Firstly, it is essential that a high level of commitment is given, especially by top-level managers. Secondly, the general workforce needs to be convinced that TQM is in their best interest. It has been stated above, and is worth repeating, that "people are naturally resistant to change, they dislike the uncertainty that change brings, it takes them out of their comfort zone, disrupts well established patterns of behaviour, and invokes feelings of fear regarding how the change may affect them, especially where there is a likelihood of job losses as a result. Careful attention must be paid to the emotions such change will elicit as it is the emotional response that may provoke the most resistance."