TQM Implementation and Systems


Total quality management (TQM) as a term to describe an organization’s quality policy and procedure has fallen out of favor as international standards for quality management have been developed. Please see our series of pages on Quality Management Systems for more information.

When planning and implementing a total quality management system or quality management strategy, there is no one solution for every situation.

Each organization is unique in terms of the culture, management practices, and the processes used to create and deliver its products and services. The quality management strategy will then vary from organization to organization; however, a set of primary elements should be present in some format.

Generic Strategy Model for Implementing TQM Systems

  1. Top management learns about and decides to commit to TQM. TQM is identified as one of the organization’s strategies.
  2. The organization assesses current culture, customer satisfaction, and quality management systems.
  3. Top management identifies core values and principles to be used, and communicates them.
  4. A TQM master plan is developed on the basis of steps 1, 2, and 3.
  5. The organization identifies and prioritizes customer demands and aligns products and services to meet those demands.
  6. Management maps the critical processes through which the organization meets its customers’ needs.
  7. Management oversees the formation of teams for process improvement efforts.
  8. The momentum of the TQM effort is managed by the steering committee.
  9. Managers contribute individually to the effort through hoshin planning, training, coaching, or other methods.
  10. Daily process management and standardization take place.
  11. Progress is evaluated and the plan is revised as needed.
  12. Constant employee awareness and feedback on status are provided and a reward/recognition process is established.

Examples of Total Quality Management System Strategies

Strategy 1: The TQM element approach

The TQM element approach takes key business processes and/or organizational units and uses the tools of TQM to foster improvements. This method was widely used in the early 1980s as companies tried to implement parts of TQM as they learned them.

Examples of this approach include quality circles, statistical process control, Taguchi methods, and quality function deployment.

Strategy 2: The guru approach

The guru approach uses the teachings and writings of one or more of the leading quality thinkers as a guide against which to determine where the organization has deficiencies. Then, the organization makes appropriate changes to remedy those deficiencies.

Strategy 3: The organization model approach

In this approach, individuals or teams visit organizations that have taken a leadership role in TQM and determine their processes and reasons for success. They then integrate these ideas with their own ideas to develop an organizational model adapted for their specific organization.

This method was used widely in the late 1980s and is exemplified by the initial recipients of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

Strategy 4: The Japanese total quality approach

Organizations using the Japanese total quality approach examine the detailed implementation techniques and strategies employed by Deming Prize–winning companies and use this experience to develop a long-range master plan for in-house use.

This approach was used by Florida Power and Light—among others—to implement TQM and to compete for and win the Deming Prize.

Strategy 5: The award criteria approach

When using this model, an organization uses the criteria of a quality award, for example, the Deming Prize, the European Quality Award, or the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, to identify areas for improvement. Under this approach, TQM implementation focuses on meeting specific award criteria.

Although some argue that this is not an appropriate use of award criteria, some organizations do use this approach and it can result in improvement.

Excerpted from The Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence Handbook, pages 293-294.