Total Quality Management (TQM) Framework In A Nutshell

The Total Quality Management (TQM) framework is a technique based on the premise that employees continuously work on their ability to provide value to customers. Importantly, the word “total” means that all employees are involved in the process – regardless of whether they work in development, production, or fulfillment.

Understanding the TQM framework

The TQM framework was developed by management consultant William Deming, who introduced it to the Japanese manufacturing industry. Today, Toyota is perhaps the best example of the TQM framework in action. The carmaker has a “customer first” focus and a commitment to continuous improvement through “total participation”.

Indeed, the focus of the TQM framework is the continual improvement of all processes with an organization – regardless of whether they have a direct or indirect impact on customer satisfaction.

Improvement comes from identifying and then removing or reducing errors. Errors commonly occur in supply chain management, manufacturing, employee training, and customer experience. 

Regardless of the cause, all employees must work toward problem-solving and adding value to the customer experience.

8 principles of Total Quality Management

While there is no universal approach to implementing a TQM framework, many businesses use the following eight principles. Many of these are evergreen principles that can be applied to any industry and are incorporated in more modern management techniques.

1. Customer-focused

The TQM framework acknowledges that the customer is the final determiner of whether company processes are sufficiently high quality. If the customer is not satisfied, then the company must refocus its efforts on understanding consumer needs and expectations on a deeper level.

2. Employee engagement

Engaged employees are empowered employees who are not fearful of their jobs. As a result, they have the confidence and experience to suggest and implement continuous improvement across many systems.

3. Process approach

Refining process is a fundamental component of the TQM framework. Here, refinement means processes are followed in a logical order to ensure consistency and increased productivity. Flowcharts and visual action plans can be produced so that employees understand their responsibilities.

4. System integration

System integration means that every single employee in a given company has a reasonable understanding of policies, standards, and objectives. It is vital that employees understand their roles and how they contribute to the greater success of the company – no matter how indirect these roles may seem.

5. Strategic and systematic approach

A business must develop strategies that are quality-centric. Company mission statements and their associated goals and values should also reflect the quality-first approach to customer satisfaction.

6. Continual improvement

Continual improvement is important in developing a competitive advantage and also in meeting stakeholder expectations. Toyota’s model for continual improvement places a high emphasis on employee participation, eliminating waste and reducing bureaucracy. These factors increase innovation and reduce costs, which ultimately flow to the consumer.

7. Decision-making based on facts

Informed decisions are derived from a deep understanding of a business’s market and their target audience. Wherever possible, data should be collected to support employee experience and intuition concerning creating value for consumers.

8. Communication

Communication is an often overlooked yet vitally important part of any successful company. It plays a key role in clarifying expectations while also increasing employee morale and motivation. It also increases collaboration and innovation between previously separate departments in a single company.

Key takeaways:

  • The TQM framework is an approach to long-term success by increasing customer satisfaction through the reduction or elimination of errors.
  • At its core, the TQM framework emphasizes a total commitment to long term change through a cohesive and collaborative approach to employee problem-solving.
  • The TQM framework utilizes eight principles with a focus on customers, communication, employees, and incremental improvements.

Other strategy frameworks

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Published by

Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"