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MGT510 - Total Quality Management - Lecture Handout 10

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The Evolution of Quality Approaches

The shift to Total Quality Management may be revolutionary for many managers because the tenets of the new paradigm are so radically different from past managerial practices. It will require both a thought revolution and a behavioral revolution. Approaches to quality have evolved through a series of gradual refinements over the last century. The shift seems dramatic and revolutionary to many managers because they have not kept up with the evolving approaches over the years. However, they have not defined their managerial roles in terms of the latest advancements or they feel skeptical about its success.

The Four Major Quality Eras

Date of inception
Quality Control
Strategic Total
Primary concern Detection Control Coordination Strategic impact
View of quality A problem to be
A problem to be
A problem to be
solved, but one
that is attacked
A competitive
Emphasis Product
Product uniformity
with reduced
The entire
production chain,
from design to
market, and the
contribution of all
functional groups,
designers, to
preventing quality
The market and
consumer needs
Methods Gauging and
Statistical tools
and techniques
Programs and
Strategic planning,
goal-setting, and
mobilizing the
Role of quality
sorting, counting,
and grading
and the application
of statistical
quality planning,
and program
education and
consultative work
with other
departments, and
program design
Who has
responsibility for
The inspection
The manufacturing
and engineering
All department,
although top
management is
only peripherally
involved in
planning, and
executing quality
Everyone in the
organization, with
top management
exercising strong
Orientation and
“Inspects in”
“Controls in”
“Builds in” quality “Manages in”

Customer-Craft OR the Inspection Era

Until the nineteenth century, skilled craftsmen manufactured goods in small volume. They handcrafted and fit together parts to form a unique product that was only informally inspected. Population growth and industrialization brought about production in larger volume. Manufacturing in the industrialized world tended to follow this craftsmanship model till the factory system, with its emphasis on product inspection, started in Great Britain in the mid-1750s and grew into the Industrial Revolution in the early 1800s.

The factory system, a product of the Industrial Revolution in Europe, began to divide the craftsmen’s trades into specialized tasks. This forced craftsmen to become factory workers and forced shop owners to become production supervisors, and marked an initial decline in employees’ sense of empowerment and autonomy in the workplace.

Quality in the factory system was ensured through the skill of laborers supplemented by audits and/or inspections. Defective products were either reworked or scrapped.

Mass Production and Inspection

In the 1800s, increased specialization, division of labor, and mass production required more formal inspection. Parts had to be interchangeable. Inspectors examined products to detect flaws and separate the good from the bad. They used gauges to catch deviant parts and make sure parts fit together at final assembly. The gauging system made inspections more consistent than those conducted solely by eye, and gave inspection a new respectability.

Formalizing the Inspection Function

By the early 1900s, gauging had become more refined, and inspection was even more important. It was prominent in Henry Ford’s moving assembly line and Frederick W. Taylor’s system of shop floor management. In 1922, G.S. Radford formally linked inspection to quality control. For the first time, quality was regarded as an independent function and a distinct management responsibility. Radford defined quality in term of conformance to “established requirements” and emphasized inspection. He also suggested some lasting quality principles, such as getting designers involved early, closely coordinating various departments, and achieving the quality improvement results of increased output and lower costs.

Late in the 19th century the United States broke further from European tradition and adopted a new management approach developed by Frederick W. Taylor. Taylor’s goal was to increase productivity without increasing the number of skilled craftsmen. He achieved this by assigning factory planning to specialized engineers and by using craftsmen and supervisors, who had been displaced by the growth of factories, as inspectors and managers who executed the engineers’ plans.

Taylor’s approach led to remarkable rises in productivity, but it had significant drawbacks: Workers were once again stripped of their dwindling power, and the new emphasis on productivity had a negative effect on quality.

To remedy the quality decline, factory managers created inspection departments to keep defective products from reaching customers. If defective product did reach the customer, it was more common for upper managers to ask the inspector, “Why did we let this get out?” than to ask the production manager, “Why did we make it this way to begin with?”

Through the 1920s, however, quality control was most often limited to inspection and focused on activities such as counting, grading, and rework, which is antithetical to Total Quality Management’s emphasis on prevention to avoid defects. Inspection departments and quality professionals were not required to troubleshoot, to understand and address the causes of poor quality, until the 1930s, with the creation of statistical quality control.

In the early 20th century, manufacturers began to include quality processes in quality practices. After the United States entered World War II, quality became a critical component of the war effort: Bullets manufactured in one place, for example, had to work consistently in rifles made in another. The armed forces initially inspected virtually every unit of product; then to simplify and speed up this process without compromising safety, the military began to use sampling techniques for inspection, aided by the publication of military-specification standards and training courses in Walter Shewhart’s statistical process control techniques.

The Statistical Quality Control Era

In 1931, Walter A. Shewhart gave quality a scientific footing with the publication of his book Economic Control of Quality of Manufactured Product. Shewhart was one of a group of people at Bell Laboratories investigating problems of quality. The statistical quality control approach that Shewhart advocated is based on his views of quality. Statistical quality control requires that numbers derived from measures of processes or products be analyzed according to a theory of variation that links outcomes to uses.

Shewhart’s Views of Quality

Shewhart offered a pragmatic concept of quality: “The measure of quality is a quantity which may take on different numerical values. In other words, the measure of quality, no mater what the definition of quality may be, is a variable”. Shewhart’s emphasis on measurement in his definition of quality obviously relates to his prescriptions for statistical quality control, which requires numbers.

Shewhart recognized that industrial processes yield data. For example, a process in which metal is cut into sheets yields certain measurements, such as each sheet’s length, height and weight. Shewhart determined this data could be analyzed using statistical techniques to see whether a process is stable and in control, or if it is being affected by special causes that should be fixed. In doing so, Shewhart laid the foundation for control charts, a modern-day quality tool.

Shewhart’s concepts are referred to as statistical quality control (SQC). They differ from product orientation in that they make quality relevant not only for the finished product but also for the process that created it.

The Quality Assurance Era

During the quality assurance era, the concept of quality in the United States evolved from a narrow, manufacturing-based discipline to one with implications for management throughout a firm. Statistics and manufacturing control remained important, but coordination with other areas, such as design, engineering, planning, and service activities, also became important to quality. While quality remained focused on defect prevention, the quality assurance era brought a more proactive approach and some new tools.

The quality assurance era significantly expanded the involvement of all other functions through total quality control, and inspired managers to pursue perfection actively. However, the approaches to achieving quality remained largely defensive. Controlling quality still meant acting on defects. Quality was something that could hurt a company if ignored, rather than a positive characteristic necessary in obtaining competitive advantage. This view started to change in the 1970s and 1980s, when managers started to recognize the strategic importance of quality.

Total Quality Control and Customer Driven Quality

The beginning of the 20th century marked the inclusion of “processes” in quality practices. A “process” is defined as a group of activities that takes an input, adds value to it and provides an output, such as when a chef transforms a pile of ingredients into a meal.

In 1956, Armand Feigenbaum extended this principle by suggesting that high-quality products are more likely to be produced through total quality control than when manufacturing works in isolation:

The underlying principle of this total quality view. . . . is that, to provide genuine effectiveness, control must start with the design of the product and end only when the product has been placed in the hands of a customer who remains satisfied .. . . the first principle to recognize is that quality is everybody’s job.

The birth of total quality in the United States came as a direct response to the quality revolution in Japan following World War II. The Japanese welcomed the input of Americans Joseph M. Juran and W. Edwards Deming and rather than concentrating on inspection, focused on improving all organizational processes through the people who used them.

Feigenbaum’s message reinforced Juran’s emphasis on managerial responsibility. To make total quality control work, many companies developed matrices or relationship charts. These charts list functions (departments or groups) across the top and required activities down the side, and shows responsibility relationships in each cell. The considerable overlap among functions means that cross-functional teams are needed to ensure required communication and collaboration, for example, in assessing the “manufacturability” of a design and debugging new manufacturing techniques through pilot runs.

Both Juran and Feigenbaum acknowledged that statistical methods and manufacturing control were still important. However, they also felt total quality control would require new management skills to deal with areas such as new product development and vendor selection. Managers also would be required to engage in activities such as quality planning and coordinating cross-functional teamwork. Despite the emphasis on teamwork, Feigenbaum’s TQC suggests that more than half of the primary responsibilities for quality belong to the quality control department, another practice that is antithetical to modern Total Quality Management.

W Edwards Deming, a statistician with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Census Bureau, became a proponent of Shewhart’s SQC methods and later became a leader of the quality movement in both Japan and the United States.

The Strategic Quality Management Era

The present quality era, Strategic Quality Management, incorporates elements of each of the preceding eras, particularly the contributions of Shewhart, Deming, Juran, and Feigenbaum. So many elements of previous eras are incorporated into Strategic Quality Management that the last two decades may at first appear to be just a repackaging of old ideas. There are, however, dramatic differences from earlier eras. For the first time, top managers began to view quality positively as a competitive advantage, and to address it in their strategic planning processes, which are focused on customer value.

Because quality started to attract the attention of top managers, it impacted management throughout the organization. Quality was not just for the inspectors or people in the quality assurance department to worry about. This era marks the emergence of a new paradigm for management. A number of developments were brought together and reconfigured into a new approach to management in all departments and specialties.

A variety of external forces brought quality to the attention of top managers. They began to see a link between losses of profitability and poor quality. The forces that brought this connection to their attention included a rising tide of multimillion-dollar product liability suits for defective products and constant pressures from the government on several fronts, including closer policing of defects, product recalls. Perhaps the most salient external force was the growing market share incursions from foreign competitors, particularly the Japanese, in such diverse industries as semiconductors, automobiles, machine tools, radial tires, and consumer electronics.

Producing products with superior quality, lower cost, and more reliable delivery, Japanese firms gained market shares and achieved immense profitability. The onslaught of these events in the mid-1970s and 1980s seemed rather sudden, However, Japanese firm had been building their industrial capabilities for decades, developing and refining approaches to quality grounded in the principles taught to them by Americans after World War II. Manager and theorists have been captivated by “Japanese management” over the last two decades. Indeed, the Strategic Quality Management era borrows a number of it elements from the developments that quality took place in Japan at the same time as the quality
assurance era in the United States.

Total Quality Management

Just as the definition of quality has been a source of confusion, so has the definition of Total Quality Management. There is no consensus on what constitutes TQM. Almost every organization defines it differently or calls it something other than TQM.

In the United States, Total Quality Management is often used to refer to the management approaches being developed in the current era of Strategic Quality Management while the new paradigm is emerging. Ideally, managers in the Strategic Quality Management era regard total Quality management as something more than a “program,” and take it beyond all the deficiencies mentioned earlier.

In this context, the word “Total” conveys the idea that all employees, throughout every function and level of an organization, pursue quality. The word “quality” suggests excellence in every aspect of the organization. “Management” refers to the pursuit of quality results through a quality management process. This begins with strategic management processes and extends through product design, manufacturing, marketing, finance, and so on. It encompasses, yet goes beyond, all of the earlier definitions of quality by puling them together into a never-ending process of improvement. Accordingly, TQM is as much about the quality process as it is about quality results or quality products. It began with people, particularly managers.

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