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Just some thoughts...

By scottpmullins ·
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Total Quality Management

by scottpmullins In reply to Just some thoughts...

<p>Donald L. Weintraub writes in his article "Implementing Total Quality Management" that there are five (5) pillars that make up <em>total quality</em>.  These should not come as a surprise to most engineers and managers:  customer satisfaction, total involvement, measurement, systematic support, and continuous improvement.  But, more importantly, TQM is not about striving for quality for the sake of it but in achieving success across the spectrum of an engagement.</p>
<p><strong><em>Customer Satisfaction</em></strong></p>
<p>Know your customer.  Know their business.  Know what their goals and objectives are.  Align your strategy and delivery of product and service to their objectives.  Understand where their pain points are - is it funding, schedule, scope, or just "being in the know"?  As a former supervisor once taught me, "even if it works, if the customer is not happy, you have not delivered..."</p>
<p><strong><em>Total Involvement</em></strong></p>
<p>In order to be successful in achieving total quality, everyone involved - at any level directly or indirectly - needs to be marching to the same drummer.  A commitment from senior management... Pledge from "worker-bees" to deliver zero-flaws... Assurance from management to ensure resources are available... Everyone needs to be involved.</p>
<p><strong><em>Measurement</em></strong></p>
<p>I once read that "what is measured will improve".  Be selective about what is measured - because your staff will focus on those points, possibly to the neglect of other areas of responsibility.  Likewise, though, do not measure what is unimportant or inconsequential - it just wastes your staff's time and yours.  If you need a guide, figure out how you can measure your team's contribution to the bottom line.</p>
<p><strong><em>Systematic Support</em></strong></p>
<p>Remember what we said about linking your team's contribution to the bottom line?  This pillar focuses solely on that concept... aligning everything in your organization with corporate strategies, objectives, and goals.  Build subordinate strategies, objectives, and goals that help achieve the corporate's intended end-state.  And, then go do it.  Plans do no good if they are just sitting in a binder on a shelf collecting dust.  Remember, it is always easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.</p>
<p><strong><em>Continuous Improvement</em></strong></p>
<p>Now that you have a methodology towards delivering total quality... make it better.  Quarterly, semi-annually, annually - sit back and review where you and your team are at.  Are you doing what you set out to do?  Is it still the right thing to do?  How has the landscape changed since then?  What assumptions and risks are still or now present?  Prune, prune, prune... and always be weary of your "teeth-to-tail" ratio.  You never want to be dragging more than what you can work with.</p>
<p>In the end, achieving total quality is a lifelong pursuit for an organization.  It is not a goal, end-state, or tangible "thing".  It is a philosophy, a way of doing business.  It does not require "yellow-sticky notes" but requires some forethought and a good dose of common sense.  Chances are you are probably already doing some or all of the above and do not even realize it.  Good for you...  If not, take heed of the suggesions offered and see how they can help you.</p>

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