Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What is TQM?

What is TQM?

The best source to go for this is Dr. J M Juran's teachings on TQM. The next best is to refer to the Baldrige award criteria.

I will try to present a summary of Dr. JMJ's view on TQM.

Customer Satisfaction
Employee Empowerment
Cost/Waste Reduction
Revenue Improvement.

Quality Planning
Quality Control
Quality Improvement.

This is also known as the Juran Trilogy.

Total Quality System
Customer-Supplier Chain
Organization-Wide Involvement
Measurement and Information
Education and Training.

Strategic Quality Planning
Executive Leadership
Customer Focus.

The above model is explained in JMJ’s courses and also described in some of his books. You may also refer his books – Quality, Planning, and Analysis and Managerial Breakthrough.

The Baldrige model also provides a comprehensive treatment of TQM. It is important to understand that unlike techniques such as Six Sigma and Balanced Scorecard, TQM is a larger body of knowledge. Several authors have taken a shot to develop a model for TQM but in my view only Juran’s work and the Baldrige model come close. And even this maybe incomplete.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Resistance to Change May Not be Injurious to Org Health!

Why do we only toe a line that resistance is bad for change? It may actually be good. It works like a good opposition in a democracy. If there wasn't friction we could see meaningless change everyday...and that would be more chaos than we already have. Let's not always assume that friction and resistance is not a good thing.

If people with 15 years or more experience have a view should we not listen to it with empathy? And make changes in our plans, if required. I manage change for a living and face resistance all the time. And in many cases the one’s resisting have a damn good point. It is the job of the change agent to listen, learn, and modify his/her plans. This need not be seen as weakness or lack of conviction. It should be seen as flexibility and empathy. For, if the people who have to live the change feel that they have been listened to, the change process will be better off.

Assuming, that some of you agree with this point of view, I also realize that in many cases we face resistance which defies logic. Here, I like to use something that the Quality Guru, J M Juran wrote. There are two kinds of change. One is a technological change and the other is the social consequence of the technological change. It is the social consequence which is often ignored and becomes a problem. If we can focus on this social consequence early in the change cycle, chances are we will have less resistance.

I also advocate celebration as a means of reducing likely resistance. Involve all in celebrating milestones and it could help. In some cases if the ‘contamination’ is dangerous, we must put our foot down and insist that some behavior will not be tolerated. If this comes from senior management it is likely to be believed. I have also tried having a heart to heart talk – let’s give this a fair chance kind of talk. If the change works then it was meant to work and if it doesn’t it wasn’t meant to work.

In summary, resistance and friction is not necessarily a bad thing if we have an open mind to it. When such friction is not useful, early involvement and decisive intolerance to bad behavior helps.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cultural Change - Elephant in the Room

It is often argued that inspite of several tools/techniques there is little cultural change acros organizations. A friend, put a question on LinkedIn - What could be possible reasons for not seeing the transformation and what could be done about the same?

Has it ever occurred to us that we could be lacking in assessing a change in culture. I find it difficult to believe that we all know when culture has changed. Maybe we don't.

Unless we tackle your question at specifics it will remain an intellectual or academic discussion only. Nothing wrong with it but I don't think you were looking for that.

Cultural change is a vast body of knowledge and is much like the proverbial elephant in the room. We all have a definition for it. Some of us will believe adoption of tools (such as Lean and Six Sigma) will lead to cultural change. Many others will feel cultural change leads to adoption of such tools.

What is cultural change? I am least qualified to comment on this but will try. If fundamental behaviors of most people in the company change and as a result more is achieved (or less also) we could say culture has changes. For example, a service company could become more service oriented or customer friendly. Take CSIR as an example. Under Dr. R A Mashelkar, this organization saw a dramatic change in culture from doing research for long years to become one of world's leading research (with results) organization. He instituted several game changing practices - the most radical one being, closing down research projects which could not deliver research targets in time.

In my view organizational culture is always changing - only the scale of time is in years or decades.

The question was - What could be possible reasons for not seeing the transformation and what could be done about the same?

While most may argue that culture does not change...my argument is that it changes but we are unable to notice the change in most cases. Probably because we are looking for something that we want. And in looking for that specific change we miss the other changes. I am assuming you are referring to positive/beneficial change. Also, when we seek cultural change, what behavioural changes are we looking for. If we can find a way of measuring this then it's easier to figure out if culture changed.

I must also add that it is a bit naive to assume that an organization's deep rooted culture will change because it adopted lean, six sigma, or some other tool. Just as it is a bit naive to assume that there is a problem with culture all the time.

Whatever cultural change I have seen, and I have very limited experience, is a result of a 'fire-in-the-belly' vision, a worthwhile purpose, customer orientation, employee focus, metrics approach, process that back-up all the above, and a focus on key results. Some organic mix of the above leads to a change in culture over time.

I doubt, if gunning for a change in culture as a pre-condition is a useful thing to do. If it is an output of a series of beneficial changes over a period of time, we should consider us lucky.

So in summary, let's not point our guns at organizational culture so early. It might need to be changed. And moreover, we may not know what is changing unless we look for it with a very open mind.