Total 'What Now?' Management--The Quest for Continuous Process Improvement

Rich Kay, PMP

In the Beginning
First some background on TQM. TQM grew from the industrial era just after World War II. Dr. W. Edwards Deming is credited with helping Japan reestablish its industrial-based economy with his teachings. The Japanese revered Dr. Deming so much, that "The Deming Prize" was created to annually recognize companies who have applied his principles and showed improvement in quality of product or service.


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In the late 1980s, America saw the need to increase the quality experience, both in product and service for customers. Enters Dr. W. Edwards Deming's TQM. From TQM flowed Deming's 14 Points ? Obligations of Management, the 7 Deadly Diseases and the System of Profound Knowledge. These elements, when applied, constituted an organizational development intervention purported to increase the quality of a product or service produced by an organization through continuous process improvement. Quality was defined by the customer, and other stakeholders were involved in defining quality as well as playing a part in defining the vision and strategy of the organization.

Quality meant different things to different stakeholders. It was a great departure from the Henry Ford days of - you can have any color car you want as long as it is black. By actively involving all stakeholders, quality was continuously refined to provide what the customer wanted or desired.

Does TQM work? Having implemented TQM in a service organization and watched it flourish in many other organizations, I can unequivocally say yes, it works. Was it easy ? not a bit. However, I also saw it cannibalized in other organizations. As with any organizational development intervention, it must be sustained from the top down and recognized from the bottom up through forming a critical mass of supporters as with any intervention.

Next Phase
Now TVM hits the scene. In Michael Wood's article on TVM, he describes TVM this way:

"Total Value Management implies that an organization must look to the long-term implication of its actions. It means that its focus must be on sustainable growth not short-term stock price pressures. It means that it must allow strategic partners and employees to prosper, it means that customers must be provided a superior experience with each interaction and transaction."

If you had the opportunity to work with TQM over the years, you will see a great similarity between TQM and TVM. While value is inherent in quality, I believe TVM begins to capitalize on our familiarity and past implementations of the TQM philosophy to provide a quality product or service.

I think most importantly, it stretches our thinking a little further and places more emphasis on the stakeholder element, i.e. customers, vendors/suppliers, community, shareholders, employees, etc., and the balance we should strive to achieve to ensure longevity - the key being balance. Stakeholder needs analysis is not a static one-time event, but a continual process as a quest for continuous process improvement.

So don't throw away your TQM books, but rather use them as a foundation to launch into TVM.

What do you think? Have we reached a new level of thinking or are we repackaging TQM? Join our discussion and share your thoughts. 

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"I respect a man who knows how to spell a word more than one way."

- Mark Twain