PART I: What Is Total Quality Management?---Paula N. Wanken
Everyone is talking about Total Quality Management (TQM) and its earliest and most well-known spokesperson, W. Edwards Deming. In the past year the media have focused considerable attention on this management phenomenon. Public television has featured several programs on the “Quality” movement, including an hour program profiling Deming’s life and career. In 1991 Business Week devoted an entire issue to Total Quality Management, and the cover story of May, 1992 issue of Nation’s Business was also about TQM. That same month Library Journal published an article by Terry and Kitty Mackey about applying the Deming approach to libraries. There’s even a journal, Quality Progress, devoted to the principles of Quality Management. So Total Quality is moving toward total coverage – from manufacturing to health care to education and libraries!
Although this widespread attention has been relatively recent, the concept of Total Quality Management has been around at least since the 1940’s, shortly after World War II. It was then that W. Edwards Deming went to Japan and introduced to the Japanese his 14-point management system that is the basis of today’s Total Quality Management principles.
What is Total Quality Management? In its simplest terms, it is a management approach that assumes long-term success comes through making decisions based on facts, and with the goal of ensuring customer satisfaction. The success of such a program is based on the participation of all members of an organization in improving processes, products, and the culture in which the members work.
The term “Total Quality Management” was initially coined in 1985 by the Naval Air Systems Command to describe its Japanese-style management approach to quality improvement, but the ideas have been advocated and practiced since shortly after World War II.
Although Deming is the best known advocate of Total Quality management, there are several others who have contributed to the ideas of quality. Dr. Joseph Juran has been influential in quality improvement since the 1930’s. Juran offers a ten-point management system to improve quality, one step at a time.
Dr. Kaou Ishikawa was the most influential quality advocate from the 1940’s through the 1960’s. He advocated the use of simple statistical and graphical tools and he developed the concept of Quality Control Circles, which is the basis of “empowerment” that we hear so much of today.
Dr. Armond Feigenbaum was the first American to look at quality as a company-wide effort, and his approach served as the fore-runner of today’s Total Quality Management.
Dr. Genichi Taguchi developed the Taguchi Loss Function, which determine factors that can be altered to ensure the best and most predictable quality. This Loss Function is the theoretical basis for Continuous Improvement, integral to the Total Quality Management philosophy.
Philip Crosby, the fifth person closely associated with today’s Quality Movement, began his quality career by advocating Zero Defects, a thesis imploring workers to make fewer mistakes. Crosby’s theories measure quality by determining the cost of defects. Crosby, lik many of the other Quality advocates, streses the importance of employee training.
So, just what does it mean to practice Total Quality Management? It means you must be committed to the process of developing an organization based on your customers’ needs. It means you must give employees the responsibility of making their own decisions – with the purpose of continually improving. They in turn will analytically evaluate how well the processes they are involved in do contribute to meeting customer needs. There are five basic elements involved in the development of such an organization.
1. A systems approach is an integral component of TQM. Deming places most responsibility for Quality on management and the overall “system”. The “system” is what delivers what the customers want. A systems approach looks at individual departments in the context of the entire organization. You must break down barriers among departments. A problem in circulation may well be related to a policy in technical services.
You must look at the library’s mission and relate all department goals to that mission. Departments in your library must work as a team – or at the very least teams in the same league.
Deming has an “80/20 rule.” 80% of an organization’s problems are “system” problems. Only 20% of the problems are due to employees. In recent years he has changed that to the “95/5 rule.” You cannot address problems involving individual employees or departments without thinking of the system as a whole.
2. Empowering employees is another aspect of the TQM management philosophy. The word “empower” literally means to give power to, to authorize, to enable. People are born with intrinsic motivations to learn, to be innovative and creative, to develop positive relationships and self-esteem. Deming believes that traditional management grinds these motivations out of people by making decisions and establishing priorities for employees, and by creating competition through rankings, ratings, and personnel appraisals.
You must give people the responsibility and authority to solve problems at the level at which they arise. If there’s a dispute over a fine, let the circulation assistant attempt to resolve it. This approach builds self-esteem and motivates employees to make their best efforts.
In order for such delegation to work, there must be adequate training, which is an important part of empowerment. People require the resources necessary to do their jobs well. This includes not only relevant training, but also sufficient staff, work space, equipment and supplies.
Another key factor in successful empowerment is communication. Managers must communicate to know what employees’ needs and concerns are, and to let employees know what management’s priorities are. Good communications involve both group and one-on-one interaction, and are essential if employees are to be motivated to work at their highest potential, or to be empowered.
3. Total Quality Management challenges us to make decisions based on facts. It is important to collect and analyze good data. Ishikawa and Deming both advocate the use of statistical and graphical tools. Juran pioneered the use of Pareto charts, which are a graphic way of looking at the frequency of problems and factors. TQM also recommends use of statistical tools such as cause-and-effect diagrams, check sheets, control charts and flow charts to help organizations understand and improve processes.
4. A Quality organization must know its customers and their needs. That is not to say a library will be open every hour its patrons request, or purchase every requested book or journal. It does mean that libraries find out from their customers what their needs are, and make decisions based on a thorough understanding of who the customers are and what they have expressed as their needs.
5. Finally, Total Quality Management challenges organizations to continuously improve. TQM is not a project that has a beginning and a definable end. TQM is a process that continues. Policies and procedures constantly need to be reviewed and revised. We must get away from the “because that’s how it’s done” mentality.
TQM practitioners often use something known as the “PDCA Cycle,” sometimes referred to as the Deming Cycle. PDCA stands for Plan, Do, Check, Act. Using this cycle, an organization plans for changes, does the changes on a small scale, checks on the results to determine what was learned, and acts to apply the lessons learned, making them permanent. The PDCA cycle continues, incorporating changes from the previous cycle.
That’s an overview of Total Quality Management. Many of the principles are based on commonsense, and many practices have been around for some time. Xavier University Libraries had actually been implementing TQM for some time, without labelling it as such. The Dean of the Business College, hearing of some of the libraries activities, commented on how impressed he was that Total Quality Management was being implemented in the library.
What the library has been defining as a “customer approach” to services, and its subsequent efforts to identify and determine how we were meeting customers needs, was indeed Total Quality Management.
Director of Libraries