Discussing Total Quality Management standards

Many authors have discussed TQM Standards. Samuel K. M. Ho in the article ‘Is the ISO 9000 Series for Total Quality Management?’ wrote that the philosophy of Total Quality Management is that of promoting continuous improvement in an organization and focuses primarily on total satisfaction for both the internal and external customers, within a management environment that seeks continuous improvement of all systems and processes. He added that the philosophy is based on an intense desire to achieve victory. Achieving victory is a challenge for today’s companies. Competition is intense and senior managers and CEOs thrive to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage over their competitors. “Though some people see TQM as something necessary to reach competitiveness and emphasize the relation between TQM and success (eg U/s GAO, 1991; Becker, 1993; Ghobadian and Gallear, 1996), others claim TQM to be merely a management fad and point out that many companies have failed to implement TQM (eg Binney, 1992; Harari, 1993; Hachman and Wageman, 1995)” (Ulrika Hellsten and Bengt Klefsjo) As Hellsten and Klefsjo mentioned in their article there are different opinions of TQM. The goal of this assignment is to analyze the different views of TQM and identify whether TQM standards do help companies promote quality. It also analyzes whether TQM standards vote for the satisfaction for both the internal and external customers as said by Samuel K. M. Ho, or else they are diminishing the real scope of quality by constraining innovation and creativity in today’s’ businesses. Studies by different authors both for and against TQM will be analyzed to understand whether TQM standards improve or lessen quality of products and services. It is important to add that various authors discussing TQM mentioned that there exists different descriptions of TQM and also (Boon O K, Atumugam V, Hwa T S (2005) said that surprisingly, a limited amount of rigorous research has been done towards identifying the effects of soft TQM practices on employees’ work-related attitudes”. To start with it is vital to understand what is meant by TQM and its purpose.

Definition of Total Quality Management

“In order to define quality one has to first consider who the customer is, and subsequently consider what the requirements of each different customer group are at any one time.” (Leicester 2007:1.3) The Total Quality Management book of Leicester says that it is important to remember that when the level of quality the customer expects is perceived by him as being exceeded by the level of quality he has received, then an opinion of ‘good quality’ is formed. Vice versa the level of quality is said to be poor when the customer’s expectations of the level of quality he should receive exceed the level of quality the customer perceives he has actually received. Therefore for companies to succeed it is important to understand the level of quality that the customer is expecting. There are various definitions which have been identified by different authors such as;

‘Fitness for purpose’

‘Conformance to requirements’

‘Zero Defects’

Though the above phrases of quality all have different meanings in general they all have common characteristics such as; aim of satisfying the customer, provide best quality at the lowest possible price and should be companywide strategy. A definition which gathers the meaning of TQM has been defined in a website of Lean Manufacturing Concepts. “TQM is a process and philosophy of achieving best possible outcomes from the inputs, by using them effectively and efficiently in order to deliver best value for the customer, while achieving long term objectives of the organization” Anon (2009). This sounds an appropriate definition of TQM since it emphasizes on the value received by the customer and in return the organization attains its objectives.

TQM Standards and BS EN ISO 9000

TQM started in 1927 with Elton Mayo’s Hawthorne experiments through 1932. Later in the 1950s Edward Deming taught statistical methods and Dr Juran taught quality management techniques to the Japanese. Many of the Total Quality Management theories were originated by Armand Feigenbaun. TQM continued evolving. New methods were introduced to support TQM such as Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma. Broughton (2009) Also organizations can become certified to ISO 9000. Various ISOs have been developed for different sectors such as ISO ISO9001, ISO9002 and ISO9003. ISO standards have been set up to focus on business planning, quality management and continuous improvement. Broughton (2009) Broughton said that the key concepts of TQM are;

Structured system for exceeding customer expectations

System that empowers employees

Drives higher profits

Drives lower costs

Continuous improvement

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Management centered approach on improving quality

As mentioned above the concepts of TQM are all centered for the benefit of the company and to satisfy the needs of the customer and ensure customer satisfaction. However, what are the impacts of TQM standards on creativity and innovation? Do TQM standards really focus on processes rather than employees thus affecting business innovation? In the next section some arguments for and against TQM standards will be discussed.

Literature Review

Arguments For and Against TQM standards

“As Wood and Peccei (1995) stated, TQM is widely agreed as a way of managing organizations with the notion to enhance employees’ attitudes. Quality practitioners such as Deming (1986), Crosby (1979), Juran (1991) and Feigenbaum (1983) have written much on the idea of TQM philosophies and methods. Surprisingly, a limited amount of rigorous research has been done towards identifying the effects of soft TQM practices on employees’ work-related attitudes”. (Boon O K, Atumugam V, Hwa T S (2005) In an article namely Does soft TQM predicts employees attitudes? it is mentioned that a survey of the literature reveals that several TQM proponents believe that the soft aspects of TQM are essential to the success of TQM (Juran, 1964; Ishikawa, 1985; Deming, 1986; Aubrey and Felkins, 1998; Dale et al., 1992; Cruickshank, 2000). Powell (1995, p. 15) concluded that “organizations that acquire the soft elements of TQM can outperform competitors without the accompanying TQM ideology.” Evidence from the growing literature on TQM failure emphasizes the neglect of the “soft” side of quality management wherein the HR and organizational behaviour aspects of quality management are not given their deserved emphasis (Lowery et al., 2000;Wilkinson et al., 1998; Cruickshank, 2000).

TQM, which has been adopted by leading industrial companies, is a participative system empowering all employees to take responsibility for improving quality within the organization. Instead of using traditional bureaucratic rule enforcement, TQM calls for a change in the corporate culture, where the new work climate has the following characteristics:

An open, problem-solving atmosphere;

Participatory design making.

Trust among all employees (staff, line, workers, managers).

A sense of ownership and responsibility for goal achievement and problems solving.

Self-motivation and self-control by all employees.


TQM requires that management, and eventually every member of the organization, commit to the need for continual improvement in the way work is accomplished. Business plans, strategies, and management actions require continual rethinking in order to develop a culture that reinforces the TQM perspective. The challenge is to develop a robust culture where the idea of quality improvement is not only widely understood across departments, but becomes a fundamental, deep-seated value within each function area as well. Anon (2009)

On the other hand Crawford (1998) argues that one of the main reasons for the present economic stalemate being experienced in Japan is the obstacle to innovation which is presented by the mindset of continuous improvement. He considers that this mentality reflects, in the main, a wish to avoid the embarrassment resulting from potential failures associated with radical change. The point is also made that a strategy of continuous improvement does not necessarily work in markets which constitute high risk investment, such as pharmaceuticals and microprocessors. These types of arguments tend to imply that TQM is not a valid paradigm in a world where changes are becoming increasingly frequent and need to be made at a faster pace. Martinez Lorent A.R, Dewhurst F, Dale B G (1999) It continues that though TQM is seen as business innovation it does not necessarily mean that it promotes business innovation.

Martinez Laurent, Dewhurst and Dale said that TQM tends to lessen business innovation such as improving processes and improving the way in which people are managed with the aim of adapting to the changing environment. On the other hand Curry and Clayton (1992), Imai (1986) and Miller (1995) said that progressive business innovation can be achieved by TQM through continuous improvement. In the article TQM and business innovation it is also mentioned that “Companies following TQM approach can more easily assimilate innovations imported from other situations due to the willingness of its employees to accept new ideas as a result of the continuous improvement ethos promoted by TQM” Martinez Lorent A.R, Dewhurst F, Dale B G (1999)

It is evident from the literature reviewed that TQM is becoming a major requirement for organisations to be successful and gain a competitive advantage. As time goes by customers are becoming more demanding and companies have to focus on identifying customer needs to achieve customer satisfaction. In an article of TQM on the web it says that the views of today’s companies of TQM include characteristics such as an open problem solving atmosphere and participatory decision making. Anon (2009) This is an evidence that it is not true that TQM focuses on processes and neglects the people aspect. To adapt to the changing of customers’ needs and this changing environment TQM promotes employee involvement and as mentioned above participatory decision making. This would also lead to employee satisfaction and motivation.

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Though it is claimed that TQM has various benefits various companies have claimed that TQM implementation resulted in a failure. Thus it is necessary that companies manage TQM efficiently and effectively. The next chapter of this assignment will outline some of the aspects which need to be considered for the successful implementation of TQM.

Successful implementation of TQM

Before applying any TQM standards a company should have a well defined strategy and mission in place. Having a strategy in place means that the company has pre defined set of objectives to achieve. The operational and management structure should be adopted to achieve the set strategy. The mission statement should reflect the values and beliefs which underpin all corporate activities. (Leciester 2007:4.5) A mission statement has to be well communicated to the employees and has to inspire people with the aim of achieving the goals set by the company. Last but not least a company should set value statements. “Value statements should guide the way people within the organization function and as such should be a substantial influence on the development of a total quality culture”. (Leicester 2007:4.8) Helsten and Klefsjo believe that before applying any TQM standards a company has to start with core values and only then the techniques and tools are selected as shown in the diagram below.

Increase external and internal customer satisfaction with a reduced amount of resources.





The techniques and tools selected will then have to be adopted. For instance an example mentioned by Hellsten and Klefsjo, the core value “Let everybody be committed” can be implemented by techniques such as ‘improvement groups’ and quality circles’. The tools might be ‘Ishikawa diagram’, ‘Pareto diagram’ and ‘histograms’. Core values characterize the organization and as these change overtime the techniques and tools will have to fit these values.

Robert Dunn says that most importantly before implementing BS EN 9000 one has to be thinking about quality in the company and in all its activities. It is useless implementing the standard just for the sake because purchasers want the certification. (Dunn R 1995:11)

Today, developing quality across the entire firm can be an important function of the human resource management (HRM) department. A failure on HRM’s part to recognize this opportunity and act on it may result in the loss of TQM implementation responsibilities to other departments with less expertise in training and development. The ultimate consequence of this loss is an ineffective implementation of the TQM strategy. Thus, HRM should act as the pivotal change agent necessary for the successful implementation of TQM.

Based on this “customer first” orientation, organizational members are constantly seeking to improve products or services. Employees are encouraged to work together across organizational boundaries. Underlying these cooperative efforts are two crucial ideas. One is that the initial contact with the customer is critical and influences all future association with that customer. The other idea is that it is more costly to acquire new customers than to keep the customers you already have. Exemplifying TQM here would mean that the HR department would need to train itself, focusing on being customer-driven toward other departments.  Anon (2009)

The effective use of quality improvement teams, and the TQM system as a whole, can be reinforced by applying basic principles of motivation. In particular, the recognition of team accomplishments as opposed to those of individuals, and the effective use of goal setting for group efforts, are important in driving the TQM system. The HR department is in a position to help institutionalize team approaches to TQM by designing appraisal and reward systems that focus on team performance.  

For many companies, the philosophy of TQM represents a major culture shift away from a traditional production-driven atmosphere. In the face of such radical operational makeovers, a determined implementation effort is vital to prevent TQM from becoming simply just another management fad. Senior management must take the lead in overt support of TQM. Anon (2009)

Part of HRM’s functional expertise is its ability to monitor and survey employee attitudes. This expertise can be particularly important for a TQM program, since getting off to a good start means having information about current performance. Thus, a preparatory step is to administer an employee survey targeting two primary concerns. One involves identifying troublesome areas in current operations, where improvements in quality can have the most impact on company performance. The other focuses on determining existing employee perceptions and attitudes toward quality as a necessary goal, so that the implementation program itself can be fine-tuned for effectiveness.

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Beyond communicating the TQM philosophy, the specific training and development needs for making TQM a practical reality must be assessed. Basically HR professionals must decide the following: What knowledge and skills must be taught? How? What performance (behaviours) will be recognized, and how will we reward them? HRM has faced these questions before and can best confront them in the TQM process. Training and development that does not fit within the realm of these questions will more than likely encounter heavy resistance. However, training and development does fall within the realm of these questions probably will be accepted more readily.

Testimonies from Various Companies

TQM standards help you clarify and identify customers’ requirements. Furthermore TQM help a company deliver what the customers’ order and on time, spot product deficiencies and improve processes and also improve competitiveness.

Alan Davis from Ind Coope Burton Brewery highly believes that the company is committed to a total quality culture. He adds that with this approach all parts of the company are involved in continuous improvement in return this gives the assurance of quality to the customer. He also added that the company will soon be ready to seek registration of its quality system to BS 5750. (Moritiboys & Oakland J 1994:35).

Acorns Nurseries of Cardiff which is a child care centre claimed that by seeking registration under BS EN ISO 9002 they would be able to demonstrate the quality of their service thus would inspire confidence in their customers. Acorns said that the advantages of having a documented system are;

Ensure standards are throughout amongst all their sites.

Well kept records, stock control ensures consumables are available and parents’ concerns are replied quickly.

Most importantly the efficient management system allows the nursery nurses to get on with what they are best at – looking after children. (Dunn R 1995:7)

Below are some of the benefits of TQM standards by Robert Dunn;

Motivate staff to improve performance

Define key roles in the company

Consistent in orders and delivery

Good management of customer complaints

Continuous improvement

Glossop Carton a company which achieved certification in 1992 says that since the certification gross profit has risen and when things go wrong, they can now pin point where they have gone wrong. Therefore then they can adjust accordingly and learn from mistakes thus promoting a better quality product for the customer.


In the book of Leicester in an article by Moritiboys & Oakland it is mentioned that “The International Standards Organisation (ISO) Standard 9000 Series sets out the methods by which management system, incorporating all the activities associated with quality, can be implemented in an organization to ensure that all the specified performance requirements and needs of the customer are fully met. In the article Implementing BS EN ISO 9000 it is said that the standard is flexible and companies big or small can adapt it to their needs and be compliant. A proof of this is the write up by Pat Martin founder of Stelmax a business employing 12 people. “I used to think BS EN ISO 9000 was just for the big fish in the sea”. She emphasizes that quality is important to all firms no matter the size. She says that the quality of the products improved which is highly required factor in this increasingly competitive market. (Dunn R 1995:6)

It is evident from the literature reviewed that TQM standards are important for organizations and as time passes its popularity is increasing considerably. TQM standards are also required to outcompete competitors in this increasing market. However for a successful implementation and to promote innovation and creativity it is necessary that organizations primarily identify the core values and also do not neglect the human resources aspect. Training and development, setting up TQM focus teams, support from senior managers, involvement in decision making, communication and rewards are the essence of successful TQM implementation. These all lead to employee satisfaction and in return will ensure ‘customer satisfaction’ which is the fad of TQM.

Last, TQM is necessary because it works. The pioneering firms in TQM include American Express, IBM, Xerox, 3M, Toyota, Ricoh, Canon, Hewlett-Packard, Nissan and many others. Samuel K.M (1993)

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