Did the Japanese finally find the secret to unlocking the productive powers of a usually vast complement of workers by harmonizing their thoughts and activities into one single cohesive unit
Many of the management specialists at the time were duly impressed, going so far as to equate the advent of TQM to, first, the Industrial Revolution and, much later, the communication revolution. TQM was enthusiastically adopted in the US in the 1960s, followed by Europe in the 1980s, where the concept was further enriched in both areas with new strategies based on local needs and requirements. (Navantara, P.)
TQM, one of its technical definitions goes, is a way of managing people and business processes in an organization to fulfill and satisfy the customer's needs at every stage. It also behooves the company to handle its suppliers and other business partners in the same strategic manner. The basic TQM foundations, as conceptualized by the Japanese and given additional features for relevance in the US and Europe consist of people, processes and systems, in that order of importance. As indicated, a company starts to carry out a TQM program by training and reorienting its people on the quality path it has set for itself. The next step is to improve or overhaul, if necessary, the entire processes and systems of production to achieve the desired quality of the company's output.
For TQM to work then, there should be a high measure of training, ethics, teamwork, integrity and trust among the organization's people. They should look up to a leader and communication should be open at all times between the boardroom and the shop floor and across the whole company. TQM also calls for a system of reward and recognition to motivate employees. (Wilkinson, A., Marchington, M. & Daleuman, B.)
All this looks good on paper but it soon become evident that the management model is too complicated, costly and takes too long to gestate. (Valasquez, J., 2000) This puts TQM out of reach of struggling companies or those tittering into bankruptcy, which are supposed to be the ones in more urgent need of more effective management systems to bail them out.
Das Amitav (2005) points out that TQM operates on the basic concept that quality is the sole concern of the production and quality control departments. As a consequence, it is overly focused on defect reduction and process improvement and less on generating income to improve the bottom line. The strategy also tends to be confined to quality circles and some industrial engineers. The more ideal method, Amitav believes, should enshrine quality achievement in the hearts of all the people involved and defect reduction and process improvement should secondary importance to strategies improving the bottom line. Lack of leadership is another perceived drawback of TQM, when common sense dictates that the leader should work hands-on instead of just hand out orders.
For this reason, I strongly recommend the Six Sigma model, the latest byword in management concepts that is grabbing the attention previously reserved for TQM. The Six Sigma approach is tailor-made for our company, which is mainly a manufacturing concern. Not surprisingly, the Japanese were again the