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Evidence-Based Decision-Making for Competitive Performance

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Total Quality Management -- Way More Than Buzz Words:

I really hate all management buzz words and slogans. They drip with marketing connotations that often obscure and debase the principles behind them. Nowhere are there more buzz words and slogans than in quality management. They are the inventions of those wanting to sell books rather than do the hard work that it takes to actually improve quality. Hence, I hesitate to even talk about TQM, but I will talk about needing a useful quality program.

If you are to have a sucessful technology company you MUST have a good quality program. You don't need your 7th degree purple belt with rose pedal clusters, but you do need to have an orgaization that understands, at a gut level, that quality matters and managing quality is one of the many important tasks. If you want a primer on quality you should read Dr. Edward Deming's 14 points in the context of your business. I have reproduced them below. If you still need help shoot me an email and we can talk about quality management and how you can start down the path of a continuously improving organization.

Here are Deming's 14 points more or less summarized from his book, Out of the Crisis:

  1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive, to stay in business and to provide jobs. (Begin with the End in Mind)
  2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.(Quality Problems are Management Problems)
  3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for massive inspection by building quality into the product in the first place.(You Can't Inspect In Quality -- Build it In)
  4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of a price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move towards a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.(Look at Long-term Costs)
  5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.(You MUST Improve Continuously)
  6. Institute training on the job.(Invest in People)
  7. Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.(Managers Help the Workers Do Their Work Well)
  8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.(No Bullies)
  9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, in order to foresee problems of production and usage that may be encountered with the product or service.(No Silos)
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.(Get Real!)
    1. Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute with leadership.
    2. Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers and numerical goals. Instead substitute with leadership.
  11. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.(Get Professional at Worker Level)
  12. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit ratingand of management by objectives (Get Professional at Management and Engineering Levels).
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.(And Again...INVEST IN PEOPLE)
  14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody's job.(Engage EVERYONE in Constant Tranformation toward Improvement)