Total Quality Leadership (TQL) Model

Faiez Hassan Seyal | August 1996


After the World War II, Japan was in a state of crisis. It was struggling to rebuild its economy and put people to work. This involved more than just getting the factories running again. Even if they could get the production flowing, who would buy the goods that were produced? Japan had to look beyond its own shores for markets. It was this bleak scenario under which Dr. W. Edward Deming, an American statistician, was invited by the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE), to give a series of lectures to plant managers, engineers, and research workers. Deming insisted that the top executives of Japanese industry get involved. JUSE arranged for that first high-level meeting on July 5, 1950. The top twenty one Japanese company presidents attended. Deming told them that they could compete in the world’s market within five years if they followed his teachings. They did it in four years! The individual elements of the concept – such as the use of statistical data (the one stressed Deming in Japan), teamwork, and employee involvement (again used under the name of quality circles in Japan) – have been used by visionary organizations, many of them in Japan, for years. It is the pulling together and coordinated use of these and other previously disparate elements that gave birth to the comprehensive concept known as Total Quality Management (TQM). Since then The TQM concept as an approach to doing business began to gain worldwide acceptance. Juran in mid to late 60’s and Crosby in late 70’s made enormous contributions in the field. The introduction of Malcolm Baldridge Award in the United States and European Quality Award in Europe provided world-wide recognition to the companies who adopted TQM philosophy as the way of doing their business.

The concept of TQM or sometimes known as Total Quality or TQ has not really been grasped by our local industry as yet. Although comprised of various business tools, TQ is not a business tool in itself. It is a philosophy, a way of doing business. TQ is not something that one can have under the compulsion of having it. If one does not believe in its philosophy then one cannot adopt TQ. Change is always difficult, and changing a culture that has been ingrained for many years is a monumental undertaking. Is survival assured with change? As a consultant I have been pondering over this question for quite sometime and have realized that the answer may be a No. But the other side of the coin is that going out of business is virtually assured if you don’t change. Every local enterprise, no matter what type, will be pressured more and more as TQ pervades industry, health care, merchandising, and services. Few comparisons between a TQ vs. Traditional companies are:

  • Traditional companies are bound to get a short-term focus, rather than long-term
  • Traditional approach tends to be arrogant, rather than customer-focused
  • Traditional approach seriously underestimates the potential contribution of their employees
  • Traditional approach equates better quality with higher cost
  • Traditional approach is short on leadership and long on “bossmanship”

Alternate Approach to Total Quality – Total Quality Leadership (TQL)

The exact opposite to the above-mentioned ingredients of traditional approach is what I call Total Quality Leadership (TQL). Apart from the study of local industry this TQ philosophy takes its roots from globally acclaimed TQ and Change approaches such as Malcolm Baldridge Quality Award, European Quality Award and Mckinsey’s 7’s framework. TQL and has the following four facets to it:

1. Leadership

TQL starts from the top and it provided vision, resources and commitment to implement TQ. But this is not the only side of the word “Leadership” in our TQL Model. Every employee of the company is a leader; meaning thereby that the whole leadership is not merely finding and recording failures, but are removing the causes of failure and helping each other to do a better job, effectively and efficiently.

2. Change and/or Alignment of the Hardware and Software for Shared Values

Apart from physical assets our Strategy, Structure, Systems/Processes are our hardware and the Style of management, Staff (people) and their Skills are what we call software. We change and/or align the hardware and software to achieve the vision and objectives provided by the Leadership. We believe that none of these components can be changed in isolation. If we decide to change our style of management we will have to tailor the other ingredients accordingly. These components, when put together, formulate our Shared Values or Culture.

3. Goals

The ultimate goal of this TQ effort is not to earn profits, because we believe that profitability is a by-product of all the main goals listed below. Profitability is a short-term goal, which cannot be sustained without the following goals. If we focus on the following goals, the profitability will follow automatically. Leadership and alignment of our hardware and software help us attain our three cherished goals of:

  • Customer satisfaction (both internal and external customers)
  • People satisfaction (our employees, vendors, associates, competition and society at large)
  • Impact on society (community development)

4. Sustained Profitability

The ultimate outcome of the first three facets of this model ensures the fourth one; sustained profitability. How is it possible not to be profitable if you have a leadership vision, strategy, structure, systems, style, staff skills, all aligned, satisfied customers, motivated employees, happy vendors, and most importantly generations of satisfied community who values your contributions to the society. TQL Model treats all the four facets as prerequisite to each other and as such they serve as input to the following facet whereas each of them is an output of the preceding one. Whatever the names of this TQL Model facets may be, it’s a journey, not a destination. This TQL Model also incorporates and inculcates the continuous improvement culture.