Page 5: Developing a total quality approach
The next step was to develop a Total Quality Approach throughout the organisation. Quality improvement is a continuous effort to eliminate wasteful practices and to make improvements. Quality management must become a way of life for a company, but it can only be implemented effectively if it becomes a way of life for every employee. Quality requires power and responsibility to be put in the hands of everyone in the company. Blue Circle Cement has developed the theory of a Total Quality Staircase:
- Identifying barriers to involvement - It is important in getting the Total Quality process going to identify the barriers to employee involvement in the process. Clearly if an organisation has a “Them and Us” culture predominating then it will not be ready for successful change. What is required is a set of relationships in which employees and managers are prepared to envisage the desirability of a situation based on equal opportunities and mutual respect, in which there is a strong motivation to do jobs well.
- Develop a common vision - Managers and employees need to share a vision. In the case of Blue Circle Cement, this was based on building a highly skilled and flexible workforce.
- Develop the plan - The next step is to develop a plan based on this shared vision. In Blue Circle Cement’s case, this involved Integrated Working and the Stable Income Plan.
- Keeping people informed - This step is to provide information to everyone in the workplace - to let them know what the effect of their work and actions are and what they will be.
- Develop the Total Quality concept - Having brought everyone on board and committed to change, it is important to develop the Total Quality concept. Everyone needs to understand what it means and build up a commitment to it, so that all managers and employees share ownership of the concept.
- Building a supportive structure - If the same management structure remains in place after Total Quality is introduced, then it is probable that the same results will be obtained. In order to change the culture it is essential for managers to change their attitudes and approaches.
- Developing facilitators to help the process - To assist in the process of change it is necessary to gain the support of a cross-section of the workforce which has been trained to facilitate change. They must be able to offer unbiased support for the operational teams. This includes a full range of skills including team composition, team dynamics, meeting skills, problem solving skills as well as being able to deal with a multitude of “people” problems that arise in business.
- Empowerment flow - This then leads to the position where empowerment can develop because the foundations are in place to allow this to flourish. The empowerment flow diagram above highlights the way in which an empowered workforce is enabled to be entrepreneurial in developing continuous improvement.
- Improvement Teams - At the centre of the process of continuous improvement is a series of improvement teams which are empowered to “do it” i.e. get things done by using their own initiative.
- Customer Focus - Only when the house is in order can the needs of the customer be enhanced by customer focus.
- Continuous improvement - Given all of the above there will have been set in motion a process of continuous improvement which is ongoing.