Total Quality Management (TQM) is a structured system for satisfying internal and external customers and suppliers by integrating the business environment, continuous improvement, and breakthroughs with development, improvement, and maintenance cycles while changing organizational culture.
The TQM philosophy emphasizes use of people, usually in multifunctional teams, to bring about improvement from within the organization.
It stresses optimal life-cycle cost and uses measurement within a disciplined methodology to target improvements. The key elements of the philosophy are the prevention of defects and an emphasis on quality in design. Important aims include the elimination of losses and the reduction of variability.
Further, it advocates the development of relationships – employee, supplier and customer. The entire TQM philosophy is based on an intense desire to achieve die best in all processes.
TQM is at first glance seen primarily as a change in an organization’s way of doing work. In the human services, this means the way clients are processed, the service delivery methods applied to them and ancillary organizational processes such as paperwork procurement processes, and other procedures.
But TQM is also a change in an organization’s culture, its norms, values, and belief systems. TQM brings about a change in an organization’s decision-making processes and power bases.
For substantive change to occur, changes in these three dimensions must be aligned: TQM as a technological change will not be successful unless cultural and political dimensions are attended to. It is a well known fact that TQM, deployment results in a radical change, in the culture and the way of work in an organization.
However, a fundamental factor crucial to its success is leadership, including philosophy, style, and behavior. These must be congruent as they are presented by a leader.