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History of Total Quality Management

The history of total quality management (TQM) began initially as a term coined by the Naval Air Systems Command to describe its Japanese-style management approach to quality improvement. An umbrella methodology for continually improving the quality of all processes, it draws on a knowledge of the principles and practices of:

  • The behavioral sciences
  • The analysis of quantitative and nonquantitative data
  • Economics theories
  • Process analysis

The History of Total Quality Management (TQM)
History of Total Quality Management (TQM)

  • Some of the first seeds of quality management were planted as the principles of scientific management swept through U.S. industry.
  • Businesses clearly separated the processes of planning and carrying out the plan, and union opposition arose as workers were deprived of a voice in the conditions and functions of their work.
  • The Hawthorne experiments in the late 1920s showed how worker productivity could be impacted by participation.
  • Walter Shewhart developed the methods for statistical analysis and control of quality.
  • W. Edwards Deming taught methods for statistical analysis and control of quality to Japanese engineers and executives. This can be considered the origin of TQM.
  • Joseph M. Juran taught the concepts of controlling quality and managerial breakthrough.
  • Armand V. Feigenbaum’s book Total Quality Control, a forerunner for the present understanding of TQM, was published.
  • Philip B. Crosby’s promotion of zero defects paved the way for quality improvement in many companies.
  • The Japanese named their approach to total quality "companywide quality control." It is around this time that the term quality management systems arises.
  • Kaoru Ishikawa’s synthesis of the philosophy contributed to Japan’s ascendancy as a quality leader.
  • TQM is the name for the philosophy of a broad and systemic approach to managing organizational quality.
  • Quality standards such as the ISO 9000 series and quality award programs such as the Deming Prize and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award specify principles and processes that comprise TQM.
  • TQM as a term to describe an organization's quality policy and procedure has fallen out of favor as international standards for quality management have been developed. Please see our series of pages on quality management systems for more information.

Adapted from The Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence Handbook, Fourth Edition, ASQ Quality Press.

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