Total Quality Management – William Edwards Deming

In this paper I will talk about the management and leadership roles and tasks in relation to Total Quality Management. Total quality management represents, within the past two decades, one of the most reflective changes in the mode companies are now

being managed. According to Biech (1994), “Quality improvement (TQM) are a customer-focused, quality-centered, fact-based, team driven, senior management-led process to achieve an organizations strategic imperative through continuous process improvement” (pp. 1-2). The benefits associated with TQM include higher quality, lower cost products and services that align with customer demands (Zbaracki, 1998). The capability of a company to answer to the needs of its customers measures the overall success of that company. Many organizations may ask the question, what is quality? As Hick (1998) explains, “quality is meeting or exceeding the needs and expectations of the customer” (p.1). What exactly are the expectations of the customers? It is now the responsibility of the organization to define those needs. Perhaps Biech (1994) provides a simpler picture, “Quality is the measure of satisfaction that occurs between a customer and supplier that only they can define. In other words, quality is what the customer says it is” (p.25). Yet according to Perigord (1987), “Total quality means that all participants in a company are involved regardless of their position in the hierarchy” (p.7). Basically making it seem impossible for quality to be successful if all members are not sharing in the same vision and/or goals.

Edwards Deming is well known for the introduction of the concept involving quality management. After World War II, Deming gained exclusive recognition throughout Japan, which later flourished to his homeland. During the early 50’s, Deming was invited to Japan to helper in he recovery of Japan’s economy. Going through a period of economic hardship and declines, the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) called on Deming’s expertise. In 1980, Deming introduced 14 key factors behind this idea of quality management. Gitlow (1994) notes the following as 14 points discussed in Deming’s work, “Out of the Crisis”.

After Deming’s success with his Japanese counter partners, many North American manufacturers began to focus in on the Japanese strategies. The Japanese not only adopted Deming’s ideas for manufacturing, but also expanded them to include administrative and service industries. The implementation of quality concepts began to increase along with the techniques that focused in on employee motivation, measurement, and rewards (Hick, 1998). During the eighties, quality improvement had yet again changed names and was referred to as Total Quality Management (TQM).

Hick (1998) also explains that the continuous improvement process should “be driven from the top, but implemented from the bottom” (p.2). Next customer focus, which involves the identification of who the customers are. When companies consider process improvements, they must know the people who will be using their products or services. Hick (1998) explains, “the starting point for quality improvement is to determine the customer needs” (p.3). As Allen (2001) also notes, “customer satisfaction is the hallmark of an effective TQM program” (p.5). It is wise for managers to encourage employee-customer exposure to effectively gain understanding of customer needs (Allen, 2001).

Walter Shewhart developed the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle, which provides a methodology for process improvements. Many organizations may use this cycle upon the realization of the need for process improvements. The PDCA cycle is also known as Deming’s cycle because Deming used this methodology to explain the concepts of continuous process improvements. This cycle consists of four important steps The first one is to plan, which is used to determine the processes needing improvement, setting a target, and making all the key players in the effort; the second one is to do what involves the implementation; the third one is to check, which included comparing the pre and post improvement data. This step is also used to determine if the post improvement efforts have corrected the original problem; and the last one is to act, which involves continuous monitoring of that particular process and moving on in areas that need further improvements (Biech, 1994). Including flow charts, organizations can also use cause and effect diagrams, run charts, and control charts as basic measuring tools.

The main concept behind Deming’s quality theory was the creation of techniques and procedures for process control (Hick, 1998). The theory was expressed as the responsibility of the organization as a whole.
In implementing such a major change, leaders must acknowledge their employees fear of the unknown. As Biech (1994) notes, “Everyone will need to be coached, encouraged, prodded, and protected as they try on new skills and behaviors” (p.138). Biech (1994) also notes several points important for leaders to acknowledge: customer-designed approach for the organization, strong, visible, leadership and commitment from all levels of management, clear vision consistently being communicated at all levels, active participation of the best people regardless of position and experience, willingness to grow as the need arises, and discipline to give the TQM implementation effort time to succeed.
There are common reasons why some companies fail at implementing TQM. There are also common ways companies can prepare for the TQM tackle. Companies can start by focusing in on the previous listed points. Throughout many notes from TQM researchers, TQM can be successful if given direct and undivided attention. As Perigord (1994) notes, “Doing it right the first time means meeting the commitment that has been made”(p.107).

It’s the overall desire of the company that drives TQM home. If TQM is enviable, it’s potential, it’s achievable, it becomes everybody’s job, and it becomes victorious.


– Allen, R. (2001, May). Aligning Reward Practices in Support of Total Quality Management. Business Horizons. Retrieved Aug 13, 2007 from the World Wide Web: http://www.
– Biech, E. (1994). TQM For Training. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Gitlow, H. S., & Gitlow, S. J. (1994). Total Quality Management In Action. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
– Hick, M. (1998). Quality Management. Mike Hicks Eagle. Retrieved Aug 13, 2007 from the World Wide Web:
Perigord, M. (1987). Achieving Total Quality Management: A Program For Action. Maryland: Productivity Press.
– Zbarack, M. J. (1998). The Rhetoric and Reality of Total Quality Management. Administrative Science Quarterly. Retrieved Sep 13, 2007 from the World Wide Web: