TQM is not dead

I am concerned by the first part of Karl Albrecht's column in the October 1995 issue. He indicates that the mortality rate of management fads has been distressingly high. These fads include "the quality movement," " TQM" and "reengineering."

He says the quality movement has disappeared from the mythical Room 101. In my opinion, the quality movement is merely the sum total of all individual quality initiatives (which are all different). It was never a single management process or principle, and is too diverse to talk about in terms of being dead or alive. The author's statement that "many organizations now attack their problems with strategies more specific than "quality"" doesn't support a conclusion that the quality movement has disappeared. Many organizations adopt TQM in an effort to solve problems but also to achieve improvements that result in a higher level of quality.

Mr. Albrecht says that TQM is "stone cold dead," caused by a "wrong mind-set." No basis or explanation is offered to support his conclusion except that "those three initials [TQM] are fast disappearing from business cards and department titles." That is hardly acceptable data to support conclusions. In my opinion, TQM is not dead nor will it die because it works when properly implemented.

He calls reengineering a reincarnation of TQM, with a terminal diagnosis. In my view, reengineering has always been part of TQM. If we combine zero defects, prevention, focus on processes and continuous improvement, we have reengineering.

The argument that reengineering accomplishes dramatic improvement and TQM focuses on incremental improvement is not correct. The phrase "doing the right things right" is part of TQM and requires questioning what you do as well as how you do it. The first question always was and is, " Why are we doing what we do at all?" To me, reengineering focuses on a part of TQM and it, too, is here to stay.

Finally, Mr. Albrecht says that without a focus on the business vision and strategy, and a means for engaging the organization's brainpower, most reengineering efforts fail. I agree with that but suggest that it is nothing new. TQM (or reengineering) never was represented to make up for basic management deficiencies and always needs to be coordinated with and integrated into the vision, mission and strategies of the company.

I don't believe TQM is a fad, and it certainly is not dead. I think we as professionals confuse the public by the variety of names and labels we put on variations of the same thing. Indeed, by changing the names, we make the name a fad but the underlying principles and philosophy live on no matter what you call it.

-Martin J. Jacobs Raleigh, North Carolina

SAC is no alternative

The article "SAC: An Alternative to Site-by-Site Audits\rdblquote ["News Digest," October 1995] was an entertaining few minutes. The concept is, of course, ludicrous. Anyone who understands the principles of the ISO 9000 system understands that internal audits are an important part of the process. However, to imply that any company is capable of an introspective look at their own processes and procedures with an objective nature is similar to those CEOs who said, "I'm rightsizing, I mean downsizing, not laying people off."

ISO 9000 was formulated to allow a company to form a key internal audit structure. It requires an independent third party to verify that all is going according to plan. If a company is concerned about the thought of an independent auditor looking over their shoulder (as it appears in the article), I am going to be suspicious about their products.

The egocentric concept that in a multiple-site facility, all parts are a clone of the central core is ridiculous. I personally have audited various divisions of several of the companies listed and found a wide disparity of compliance to requirements.

Perhaps it makes for interesting filler in your magazine, but I would steer clear of endorsing this approach to quality.

-R.R. Kunes Aurora, Ohio

It is Quality Digests editorial policy to report on the latest trends and news in the quality and management world, not the most popular ones. In addition, Quality Digest merely reported on the SAC initiative- we in no way endorse it.


Copyright 1995 by QCI International. It is unlawful to reprint, retransmit, or otherwise reproduce this article, except for personal use, without the written permission of QCI International (which gladly grants permission when asked). Call (800) 527-8875 or fax (916) 527-6983.

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