Why total quality matters in the 21st century
Quality can be defined in many ways depending on product or services it refers to. As stated by Russell and Taylor III, (2010) The American Society for Quality (ASQ) defines quality as "a subjective term for which each person has his or her own definition. In technical usage, quality can have two meanings: (1) The characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs and (2) A product or service free of deficiencies."
"The consumer is the most important part of the production line. Quality should be aimed at the needs of the consumer, present and future." From this perspective, product and service quality is determined by what the customer wants and is willing to pay for. Since customers have different product needs, they will have different quality expectations, (Russell and Taylor III, 2010, chapter 2).
The concept of Total Quality Management (TQM) is based on a number of ideas, expressed by (Omachuno & Ross, 2004, p.5). “ It means thinking about quality in terms of all functions of the enterprise, a start-to-finish process that integrates interrelated functions at all levels. It is a systems approach that considers every interaction between the various elements of the organization. The keyword to TQM is continuous improvement.
Following an international conference in May 1990, the conference Board summarized the key issues and terminology to TQM:
• The cost of quality as the measure of non-quality and a measure of how the quality process is progressing
• A cultural change that appreciates the primary need to meet customer requirements, implements a management philosophy that acknowledges this emphasis, encourages employee involvement, and embraces the ethic of continuous improvement.
• Enabling mechanisms of change, including training, education, communication, recognition, and management behaviour, teamwork, and customer satisfaction programs.
• Implementing TQM by defining the mission, identifying the output, identifying the customers, negotiating customer requirements, developing a “supplier specification” that details customer objectives, and determining the activities required to fulfil those objectives.
• Management behaviour that includes acting as role models, using quality processes and tools, encouraging communication, sponsoring feedback activities, and fostering and providing a supporting environment.
(Omachuno & Ross, 2004, p.5 & 6).
Deming and Juran introduced statistical quality control to Japanese workers after World War II as part of the rebuilding program after the war. As stated by (Evans, 2008, p.10)“ They convinced the top Japanese managers that, quality improvement would open new world market and was necessary for the survival of their nation” During the late 1970s and early 1980s businesses in the United states lost significant market share to other global competitors, Japan in particular. The Japanese was producing remarkably higher standards for a whole host of products, from consumer electronics to car and machine tools. Aside from aerospace and agriculture, there are few markets left where the United States carries its own weight in international trade. The reason for this as stated by (Evans, 2008, p.10) “During the next 20 years, while the Japanese were improving quality at an unprecedented rate, Quality levels in the West remained stagnant”. United States embraced Demming’s philosophy of quality. Ford Motor Company was among the first to embraces Demming’s philosophy. Within a few years, Ford’s earnings were the highest for any automotive company in history, despite a 7 percent drop in U.S. car and truck sales. In 1992 Ford Taurus outsold the Honda Accord to become leader in domestic sales.
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