As with most things, it was given this name for a reason... On the subject of which, yet another of the 8 million things that press my buttons is that I find that people don't think about the names of things... treating them as just an associated noise, without thinking about what the words represent. After all, someone decided to name 'Take That' after a phrase associated with punching someone in a 50's crime novel- and another decided to call a quarter pounder a 'Big Mac', when it's McDonalds... or designed the sign that says 'this door is alarmed'... by what, I wonder?
Anyway, to TQM....
- Total - meaning absolutely everything & everyone
- Quality - meaning 'right first time, every time'*
- Management - meaning the process of planning, organising, coordinating and controlling
* With the term 'quality' - the proper definition would be 'the totality of features and characteristics that bears upon the ability of a product or service to satisfy stated and implied needs' - but that doesn't make a good bullet point... It does, however, include all the key aspects we need to think about to understand TQM....
The 'Totality of Features...' suggests every aspect of what you do needs to be considered in the light of whether it satisfies the needs of both internal and external customers. Those needs are both the 'stated' ones - what they tell you they want or need - and the 'implied' ones - much harder, and easiest to understand if you think of it as ' all the things they don't even know they want, don't tell you about, but shape the way they perceive you and your work'...
To give an example or two of 'implied' needs.... consider these:
- An external customer rings your organisation at 8.40am...and gets no answer. It's unlikely they will have told you they expect to be able to speak to you before 9am....but you can imagine that they will certainly 'judge' you if they can't.
- A customer goes into a grocers and asks for 'half a dozen eggs'.... this is riddled with 'implied' needs - 6 hens eggs, raw, unbroken, in a box, fresh etc etc
Ask yourself this: 'Could the service and support between our departments be better?' and 'do we ever have problems with our processes, products and services?'
...if the answer to either question is 'yes' - then a commitment to TQM, applied with some judiciously joined-up-thinking, might be a useful start.
If you're serious about this, I recommend benchmarking your organisation against the EFQM Excellence Model