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Beyond Total Quality

By the end of the 1990s Total Quality Management (TQM) was considered little more than a fad by many American business leaders (although it still retained its prominence in Europe).

While use of the term TQM has faded somewhat, particularly in the United States, quality expert Nancy Tague says: “Enough organizations have used it with success that, to paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.” (see The Quality Toolbox, ASQ Quality Press, 2005).

As the 21st century begins, the quality movement has matured. Tague says new quality systems have evolved beyond the foundations laid by Deming, Juran and the early Japanese practitioners of quality.

Some examples of this maturation:

  • In 2000 the ISO 9000 series of quality management standards was revised to increase emphasis on customer satisfaction.
  • Beginning in 1995, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award added a business results criterion to its measures of applicant success.
  • Six Sigma, a methodology developed by Motorola to improve its business processes by minimizing defects, evolved into an organizational approach that achieved breakthroughs – and significant bottom-line results. When Motorola received a Baldrige Award in 1988, it shared its quality practices with others.
  • Quality function deployment was developed by Yoji Akao as a process for focusing on customer wants or needs in the design or redesign of a product or service.
  • Sector-specific versions of the ISO 9000 series of quality management standards were developed for such industries as automotive (QS-9000 and ISO/TS 16949), aerospace (AS9000) and telecommunications (TL 9000) and for environmental management (ISO 14000).
  • Quality has moved beyond the manufacturing sector into such areas as service, healthcare, education and government.
  • The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award has added education and healthcare to its original categories: manufacturing, small business and service. Many advocates are pressing for the adoption of a “nonprofit organization” category as well.


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