The Evolution of Total Quality Management

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The Evolution of Total Quality Management

A useful way to begin to understand the evolution of TQM is to link it to show how the industrial world was developing at the time TQM was evolving.

Until the industrial revolution in the mid 18th century, most goods were custom made. Industrialisation brought about a fundamental shift from cottage industry production to large scale manufacturing. Simultaneously, industrial activity underwent extensive mechanisation. As explained by Ho, ‘craftsmen were diminishing and being replaced by mass production and repetitive work practices.’ The aim with the new industrial era was to produce large numbers of the same product which required processes to be put in place to control quality as it could not be left up to individuals.

Cali explains that the shift away from the production of goods by individual craftsmen bought about the introduction of the assembly line between 1900 and1940 in America where products passed consecutively through various operations. Cali describes how ‘Standardisation became the trend’ adding that the prevailing management thinking at this time centred around keeping jobs simple and under close supervision. The expectation was that workers would meet standards only if closely supervised.

The 2nd world war played a key role in the evolution of TQM. Factories geared up for mass production and were split into functional departments. At the end of the war, America undertook the rebuilding of Japan’s shattered economy. Amongst the many Americans that were sent to Japan to support this effort was Dr W Edwards Deming. He was instrumental in convincing the Japanese to adopt the principles of industrial efficiency and thus the development of the TQM theory was born. He advocated a climate of ‘continuous improvement’. “Listen to me” Deming told the Japanese “…and in 5 yrs you will be competing with the West. Keep listening and soon the West will be demanding protection from you”.

Using his TQM...
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