TQM vs. LO LO11880

Mon, 13 Jan 1997 12:17:28 -0500 (EST)

Replying to LO11826 and well as to the general subject of LO vs. TQM.

I saw a reference a few years ago that the Navy first coined the term TQM
and the term was later adopted by the Department of Defense.

Regarding the general issue of TQM vs. LO, I offer the following
comparisons on the relationship between TQM and LO with the intent of
building a bridge (if one is even needed) between LO and TQM.

The late Dr. W. Edwards Deming, who was considered one of the foremost
experts on continual improvement when asked about TQM, remarked: "I know
not the term TQM, I never use it." Deming also stated that if he was to
reduce his message to management to just a few words, it all had to do
with reducing variation.

Richard Karash in: Leading Lights: An Interview with Richard Karash of
Innovation Associates, (see Rick's home page) offered the following
descriptions of a learning organization:

"A learning organization is one in which, at all levels, people are
continually expanding their capability to produce the results that they
really want to create. The Learning Organization is about achieving
remarkable levels of performance, but also, about making it rewarding and
satisfying for the people involved."

This description of a learning organization fits my concept of TQM. As
was mentioned above, the term TQM was coined by the Department of the Navy
and adopted by the Department of Defense. The foundation for TQM is based
on the works of Dr. Walter Shewhart. "Producing results" as Richard
mentions in his description of a LO, is accomplished via a process or
system and Shewhart's methods and tools help to control and predict the
variation inherent in a system/process.

IMHO, the only significant distinction between LO and TQM is that LO is
based more on an intuitive understanding of the variation principle and
continuous improvement as taught by quality professionals such as Deming
and Juran, is based on a conscious awareness and understanding to include:
common and special causes of variation, stable and unstable systems and
two types of mistakes.

A few key terms and concepts:

1. Variation. Variation is a law of nature that states that everything
is one of a kind or unique. Put another way, variation implies that no
two things are or will ever be exactly alike, e.g., people, identical
twins, fingerprints, snowflakes, fast food hamburgers, manufactured parts,

a. Variation represents the difference between the ideal and the
actual. An ideal represents a standard of perfection that one can strive
for but never achieve thus making continuous improvement possible.

2. Dr. Walter Shewhart. Shewhart discovered that although everything
varies and individual things are unpredictable, groups of things from a
constant system of causes tends to be predictable. He developed the
behavior-over-time or control chart to help control the variation in a
process. The control chart helps to indicate that "if you always do what
you always did, you will usually get what you always got." He also used
an action learning cycle that he referred to as the Plan-Do-Check-Act
cycle, to help determine the effects of change on a process. Shewhart's
work has been studied by the best minds in the world since 1924 and has
been accepted internationally as a standard way of organizing and
communicating numerical (statistical) information.

3. Quality. IMHO, Quality is doing the right thing right. It is an ideal
that is uniquely defined by each individual. Doing things right
represents efficiency and doing the right thing represents effectiveness.
Efficiency and effectiveness are mutually exclusive terms, i.e., you can
do the wrong thing right or the right thing wrong.

a. Efficiency deals with the science-side of quality (if you always
do what you always did, you will usually get what you always got).
Effectiveness deals more with the art of quality, i.e., the infinite, the
unknown and unknowable, the answers to questions such as "what today seems
impossible but if it could be done, would fundamentally improve quality?

For example, the AM radio was an answer to a "what today seems
impossible" question. Once other people (customers) determined that the
AM radio was the right thing for them, the next challenge was to try and
manufacture an AM radio as "perfectly" as possible--this is where
Shewhart's control chart comes in handy.

4. Common Challenge. Reducing variation is the key to quality. The
challenge is to reduce variation in one area without making it worse in
another. Since people affected by the change determine if things got
better or worse, it helps to involve them in any improvement
initiative--thus the need for a shared vision based on an ideal.
Shewhart's methods and tools help to measure progress against an ideal.

5. When people within our organization was reconciling the distinction
between TQM, business process reengineering, reinventing government,
learning organizations, the seven-habits, organizational excellence, etc.,
I submitted a couple of articles for our agency news magazine in an
attempt to provide some common ground among the various "warring"
factions. The articles can be found at the following site:

Doing the right thing right - DFAS: The DoD Accounting Firm.

Success through quality choices - DFAS: The DoD Accounting Firm.

The articles contain information extracted from materials that I
use in the college courses that I teach part-time. I refined a few of the
points since these articles were published but I hope they provide a
little more information for those that might be interested. (Note: The
articles were the first time I submitted anything to our news magazine and
I wasn't real thrilled with the editing process -- but I think the general
concepts were retained.)

6. Support Guide. I've written a book titled: Success through Quality:
Support Guide for the Journey to Continuous Improvement. I plan to make
this guide available via the internet (PDF format/sharewhare) within the
next 30-90 days. The guide was written to support the continuous
improvement workshops my ASQC section provides via the public library. If
anyone wants to go more in-depth on the subject of continuous quality
improvement and LO, perhaps the guide will provide a common foundation for
discussion. The guide is about 90 pages long and I never used the term

Tim Clark (Tim)
Program Coordinator: Indpls Quality Leadership Initiative




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