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Rationale for Change
Change is always difficult and changing a culture that has been ingrained for many years is a monumental undertaking. The main reason is that change brings unsure outcomes and people are afraid of the unsure outcomes. But, this situation is different in the case of survival. People are willing to accept the change in order to survive. In every enterprise, no matter what the type of enterprise it may be, change is essential in order to be competitive in the marketplace as totalquality pervades industry, education, health care, government, merchandising and services.
Role of Top Management Leadership
Every organization must have a leader. Leaders are described as people that command or guide a group or activity - not a very illuminating description. Any person in charge of any group is a leader. That person may or may not be an effective leader. Too many times he or she is not. This is where top management plays the important role. Top management needs to be the person who can be the leader to ensure the success of the implementation process of total-quality throughout the entire organization.
Role of Middle Management
Middle managers deal with the facilities, equipment and processes put in place by higher management. They will often function as project team leaders, seeking to define and characterize processes and finding ways to improve them, or to take on a wide variety of special total-quality projects. With their teams, they will find new ways to do things and new things to do. They will find themselves on the firing line, for it is at this level that products are produced and information is collected and analyzed.
Implementation Principles & Phases
A preliminary step in TQM implementation is to assess the organization's current reality. Relevant preconditions have to do with the organization's history, its current needs, precipitating events leading to TQM, and the existing employee quality of working life. If the current reality does not include important preconditions, TQM implementation should be delayed until the organization is in a state in which TQM is likely to succeed.
If an organization has a track record of effective responsiveness to the environment, and if it has been able to successfully change the way it operates when needed, TQM will be easier to implement. If an organization has been historically reactive and has no skill at improving its operating systems, there will be both employee skepticism and a lack of skilled change agents.
If this condition prevails, a comprehensive program of management and leadership development may be instituted. A management audit is a good assessment tool to identify current levels of organizational functioning and areas in need of change. An organization should be basically healthy before beginning TQM. If it has significant problems such as a very unstable funding base, weak administrative systems, lack of managerial skill, or poor employee morale, TQM would not be appropriate.
However, a certain level of stress is probably desirable to initiate TQM. People need to feel a need for a change. Kanter (1983) addresses this phenomenon be describing building blocks which are present in effective organizational change. These forces include departures from tradition, a crisis or galvanizing event, strategic decisions, individual "prime movers," and action vehicles. Departures from tradition are activities, usually at lower levels of the organization, which occur when entrepreneurs move outside the normal ways of operating to solve a problem.
A crisis, if it is not too disabling, can also help create a sense of urgency which can mobilize people to act. In the case of TQM, this may be a funding cut or threat, or demands from consumers or other stakeholders for improved quality of service. After a crisis, a leader may intervene strategically by articulating a new vision of the future to help the organization deal with it. A plan to implement TQM may be such a strategic decision. Such a leader may then become a prime mover, who takes charge in championing the new idea and showing others how it will help them get where they want to go. Finally, action vehicles are needed and mechanisms or structures to enable the change to occur and become institutionalized
Steps in Managing the Transition
Beckhard and Pritchard (1992) have outlined the basic steps in managing a transition to a new system such as TQM: identifying tasks to be done, creating necessary management structures, developing strategies for building commitment, designing mechanisms to communicate the change, and assigning resources.
Jablonski offers a five-phase guideline for implementing total quality management: preparation, planning, assessment, implementation, and diversification. Each phase is designed to be executed as part of a long-term goal of continually increasing quality and productivity. Jablonski's approach is one of many that has been applied to achieve TQM, but contains the key elements commonly associated with other popular total quality systems.
Preparation—During preparation, management decides whether or not to pursue a TQM program. They undergo initial training, identify needs for outside consultants, develop a specific vision and goals, draft a corporate policy, commit the necessary resources, and communicate the goals throughout the organization.
Planning—In the planning stage, a detailed plan of implementation is drafted (including budget and schedule), the infrastructure that will support the program is established, and the resources necessary to begin the plan are earmarked and secured.
Assessment—This stage emphasizes a thorough selfassessment—with input from customers/clients—of the qualities and characteristics of individuals in the company, as well as the company as a whole.
Implementation—At this point, the organization can already begin to determine its return on its investment in TQM. It is during this phase that support personnel are chosen and trained, and managers and the work force are trained. Training entails raising workers' awareness of exactly what TQM involves and how it can help them and the company. It also explains each worker's role in the program and explains what is expected of all the workers.
Diversification—In this stage, managers utilize their TQM experiences and successes to bring groups outside the organization (suppliers, distributors, and other companies have impact the business's overall health) into the quality process. Diversification activities include training, rewarding, supporting, and partnering with groups that are embraced by the organization's TQM initiatives.