Upon completion of this chapter, you should be able to
• explain how quality is defined and measured.
• define total quality management.
• explain the empowerment of employees.
• distinguish between internal and external customers.
• outline the steps in a Total Quality management program.
quality total quality management
A NEW CONCERN FOR AN OLD IDEA_________________
The end of World War II left the economy of the world tilted heavily in favor of the United States. Europe and most of Asia were left with only skeletal remains of their prewar industrial capability. American factories were intact and able to convert from the production of war goods to the manufacture of countless products and machines needed by the rest of the world. We had no competition on the world stage. As the rest of the world slowly rebuilt their industrial capabilities, comparison of their products to those made in the United States was the worldwide standard. Quality was defined as made in America.
Regardless of whether the business dealt in products or in services, most American companies operating in the postwar era focused their quality standard on the finished product or service, and defined it to fit their personal image. Quality control was usually the final inspection step in the manufacturing or service process, and products that failed to meet the prescribed quality standard were rejected. Similarly, services
that were unsatisfactory were repeated in full or in part. The customer was not involved in the definition or the measurement of quality at all. Complaint or approval was the customer’s only role.
Yet products and services that do not meet the customers’ needs cannot be considered qualitative. A florist may fill an order for a flowering plant with the largest, most showy, healthiest specimen in the shop, believing he is giving the customer a top quality product. If the customer desires a plant for the center of her dining table, however, she will reject the plant as oversized and certain to inhibit conversation between guests seated around the table. If she is not satisfied with the plant, it is not a quality product. A nursery grower may set exacting standards for tree production. Every tree is shaped, sheared, and spaced to produce a block of plants that are exact duplicates. The nursery perceives and advertises its plants as being the highest quality. If the client wants matching trees to line a formal entry, then the trees possess the quality sought. If the client wants trees to create a naturalized woodland effect, the trees won’t do the job. They lack quality as perceived by the customer, regardless of the grower’s opinion or the price. A lawn that is installed to textbook standards may exhibit lush greenness and weed – free growth. Is it quality? Perhaps, if the client has water available to maintain it. If the local weather is droughty, then perhaps not.
In recent years, America’s dominance of the world economy has lessened. Our former international customers are now our competitors. In matters of quality, the teacher has become the student and American businesspeople are having to observe and learn from other nations. The success of foreign manufacturers and service firms, most notably the Japanese, has been accomplished through hard work, clever management, and a different way of defining and measuring quality.