A Look at Total Quality Management, Then and Now
The concept and principles of Total Quality Management (TQM) came into the foreground back in 1988. This was the time that the U.S. government came up with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Companies were being encouraged to adopt a business model, centered on business productivity without having to sacrifice quality.
This was the era when the trade export-import balance between U.S. and Japan had shifted in Japan’s favor. Although a series of U.S. countermeasures were being undertaken, trade friction and rifts took place in the international market. Some U.S. courts had even made rulings that sided with charges of unfair trade practices against Japanese companies for selling Japanese products below costs in the U.S.
However, when Motorola became the first recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige Award in 1988, the company’s success was supported by the attainment of about $2.2 billion savings in costs. American companies stopped harping against their Japanese counterparts, and finally started focusing their attention on the concept of TQM.
W. Edwards Deming, known as the Father of Total Quality Management was one of Japan’s main guiding forces in improving industrial performance. This was in the 1950s when Deming’s teachings were initially scoffed at by American manufacturers. However, as the events in history unfolded, TQM became an all important discipline by the mid-1980s. On the other hand, the Motorola Company responded to the honor of being the first recipient of Malcolm Baldrige Award by spawning their Deming-inspired business management into a system of learning known as the Six Sigma.
Today, the concept and principles of Total Quality Management are getting more attention than ever, in order to meet the challenges of global competition. However, the Chairman of the Malcolm Baldrige Award gives emphasis that their purpose is not just to give out awards, but to focus on business models. The objective is to encourage the adoption and use of business tools and processes to achieve goals based on the principles of TQM.