TQM & LOs LO11244

Michael McMaster (Michael@kbddean.demon.co.uk)
Tue, 3 Dec 1996 00:48:15 +0000

Replying to LO11222 --

This TQM thread contains much of interest to me. John Zs comments trigger
a variety of related matters for me.

The first is that there is a likely inherent danger in the
certification/standards systems (BS5750, ISO 9000, etc). John cautions
not the blame the results on the existence of standards.

I accept that. However, I would not dismiss the nature of the standards
so readily. That is, standards have value. Standards which are (all or
mainly) mechanistic and reductionist will inevitably create the kinds of
problems that others have been pointing at.

Quality is complex and emergent. The people producing the levels of
quality actually being produced are also complex and their behaviour is
emergent. The organisation which is producing the quality is complex and
emergent in a somewhat different manner than the individuals.

To the extent that the standards - almost all as they appear to me - are
mechanistic, then they can be expected to produce as much damage as good.
In those few systems where complexity and emergence (living entities) are
honoured, even these standards will be OK because the larger systems are
bigger than the standards. In all other systems - bureaucratic, etc - the
standards will fail to produce the intended results.

John says,
>" Why do we need a "special" system to give us the results we would
> expect as normal?

I disagree that we should expect "quality" as "normal". It isn't worth
talking about let alone having standards for if it's only what's "normal"
that we are seeking. We already have what's normal.

Surely we talk about quality and have systems or initiatives for quality
only when we want something beyond the normal.

Finally, isn't it interesting when the contemporary quality movement makes
self-responsibility and self-checking so important and devalues quality
control inspectors that the systems do the worst (as John points out) in
this area by not only have separated checkers but having them be excluded
from the relationship system. This embodies the worst of the old
fashioned philosophy of outside observers being "better" than the elements
of the system.

Michael McMaster :   Michael@kbdworld.com
"I don't give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity 
but I'd die for the simplicity on the other side of complexity." 
            attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes 

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>