Towards A Total Quality Culture

Faiez Hassan Seyal | March 1998

Introduction

Having been involved in implementing Total Quality (TQ) in Pakistan, I am often asked about the progress being made by organizations in implementing TQ as a strategic issue. Based on our research of 70 medium-sized companies, an examination was made of key issues as they impact TQ. The first point to note is that in spite of all the efforts made by serious agencies, only 30 percent companies have knowledge of TQ. Out of those companies, which have a knowledge of TQ, the research revealed that more than 75 % are either reluctant to initiate or initially started but then halted the TQ effort.

The research concluded that more than ninety-five (95) percent of the failures are due to the strong opposition form the organizational people – the single most important but unfortunately, the most neglected resource. Out of those who want to implement any change initiative, more and more are reluctant to take the initiative because of either the lack of support or the resistance of people to change. The results also suggest that one of the greatest obstacles faced by organizations attempting to implement total quality is the cultural change. Many organization do an excellent job of committing to total quality, involving employees have the necessary skills. The culprit in many of these cases is organizational inertia. TQ is an organizational culture committed to Quality and without addressing the cultural issue, every effort of introducing TQ will go flat.

This paper explains the concept of organizational culture and how to go about changing it. The paper is meant to address the key implementation issue, i.e., people – their resistance, lack of commitment, lack of positive attitude and willingness to change. The paper is primarily meant to address the cultural change issues during any of the change effort. The paper is based on our research of the world’s best practices and draws heavily on our experience of advising a number of clients during various change assignments.

Understanding the Total Quality Culture

One of the biggest difficulties in the implementation of a TQ approach is to develop and maintain an organizational culture. No one can deny the fact that Total Quality is not a one-time restructuring but is an organizational culture where all the employees are committed to meet or exceed their customers’ needs and expectations. This leads to a basic question that What Exactly a Culture is? We believe that an organization’s culture is the everyday manifestation of its underlying values and traditions. It shows up in how employees behave on the job, their expectations of the organization and each other, and what is considered normal in terms of how employees approach their jobs.

The only way to judge that an organization is implementing TQ is through a feeling you acquire when you visit such an organization. This feeling does not always come from slogans but draws from the employees’ behavior and attitude towards each other and customers. Have you ever eaten in a restaurant in which the service was poor and the employees not interested in you? Such organizations have a culture problem. Valuing the customer is not part of their culture. No matter what slogans or what advertising gimmicks they use, the behavior of their employees clearly says” We don’t care about customers.” What an organization truly values will show up in the behavior of its employees, and no amount of lip service or advertising to the contrary will change this. If an organization’s culture is its value system as manifested in organizational behavior, what is a quality culture?

A quality culture is an organizational value system that promotes continual improvement of quality. It consists of beliefs, values, behaviors, traditions, procedures, policies, and expectations that promote quality and service.

Many factors contribute to the creation of an organization’s culture. The value systems of top managers are often reflected in their organization’s culture. How top managers treat employees and how employees at all levels interact on a personal basis also contribute to the organizational culture. Expectations are important determinants of an organizational culture. What management expects of employees and what employees, in turn, expect of management both contribute to an organization’s culture. The stories passed along from employees typically play a major role in the establishment of an organization’s culture. All of these factors can be both good and bad.

If managers treat employees with trust, dignity, and respect, employees will be more likely to treat each other with the same and it will become part of the organization’s culture. On the other hand, if management treats employees poorly, employees are likely to follow suit. Both situations, if not changed, will become ingrained as traditions and rituals. These traditions will affect the behavior and actions of employees and will be passed along to one another.

This is why it is so important to establish a quality culture. If mistrust, power and politics are a part of culture, it will be difficult to build partnerships between internal and external customers. It will also be difficult to establish an environment of mutually supportive teamwork. Organizations having these problems are not likely to be world-class competitors. The commitment to quality cannot be faked. Employees know when management is just going through the motions. Changing an organization’s culture requires a total commitment and a sustained effort at all levels of the organization.

Why Achieving Cultural Change is Difficult?

Change is resisted in any organization. Resistance to change is normal organizational behavior. In this regard and organization is similar to a biological organism. From the perspective of organizational culture, the alien is change, and the organism, is the organization to be changed. Continuous improvement means continuous change. In order to ensure continuous improvement, one must be able to facilitate continuous change. Most people understand and accept that organizational change will be resisted. However, in order to be an effective agent of change, one must understand why it is resisted. Any organization has two separate cultures relating to change: the advocates and the resisters.

Advocates focus on the anticipated benefits of the change. Resistors, on the other hand, focus on perceived threats to their status, beliefs, habits, and security. Often, both advocates and resisters are wrong in how they initially approach change. Advocates are often guilty of focusing so intently on benefits that they fail to take into account the perceptions of employees who may feel threatened by the change. Resisters are often guilty of focusing so intently on threats to the status quo that they refuse to acknowledge the benefits. These approaches typically divide an organization into warring camps that waste energy and time instead of focusing resources on the facilitation of change.

To attempt the implementation of total quality without creating a quality culture is to invite failure. Organizations in which the prevailing culture is based on orthodox management practices are not likely to succeed in the implementation of total quality. Successful total quality requires cultural change. Few reasons why cultural change must precede the implementation of total quality are described here.

  • The total-quality approach to doing business may be radically different than what management and employees are used to. Managers who are used to sit in their isolated offices are likely to reject the concept of employees involvement and empowerment. Employees who are used to competing against their fellow employees for promotions and salary increases may not be open to mutually supportive internal partnerships and teamwork. These situations can create an environment that is hostile toward change, no matter how desirable that change is. Change can be difficult, even when people want to change. It is impossible in a hostile environment.
  • The nature of total quality is such that the organization may have to go down somewhat before it can turn things around and start to come up. In a conversion to total quality, positive results are rarely achieved in the short run. This characteristic gives the resisters the opportunity to demotivate others.
  • Employees who have worked in an organization for long, have probably seen a variety of management fads come and go. Promoting the latest management gimmick k and then letting it die may be a part of the existing culture. If this is the case, it will be very difficult to overcome the past. Employees will remember earlier fads and gimmicks and will characterize total quality as being just the same. The past is not just and important part of an organization’s culture; it can be the most difficult part to overcome.

How People Respond to Ineffective Change?[1]

Before recommending various measures and strategies to manage change effectively, let’s see how people respond to an ineffective change. My experience of managing change with leading national and international companies in Pakistan and abroad suggests that when people are overwhelmed by more changes than they can absorb or when their rate of absorbing change is well below that of people and events around them. The outcome of both of these situations is emotional distress and most of the people exhibit some or all of the following behavior symptoms:

  • Brief irritation among team members, which may be distracting
  • Poor communication and reduced trust between team
  • Defensive and blameful behavior
  • Reduced capacity for risk taking
  • Increased conflicts and inappropriate outbursts at the work place
  • Poor decision making
  • Venting job frustration at home

If the situation goes un-noticed by the management, additional psychological and physiological stress symptoms may manifest within the individual, including:

  • Lower morale, feeling of victimization and un-empowerment
  • Headaches and abdominal cramps
  • Chronic absenteeism
  • Feelings of resignation
  • Physical weakness
  • Loss of appetite and energy
  • Ashen looks
  • Chronic low back ache and muscle aches
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Blurring of mind

An extreme ignorance of the top management towards the issue and the employees may even result in server reactions, such as:

  • Malicious compliance
  • Blocking of tasks or procedures
  • Undermining of leadership
  • Promoting a negative attitude in others
  • Strike and sabotage
  • Drug addiction
  • Family abuse
  • Chronic depression
  • Nervous breakdown
  • Suicide

This in not intended as a complete list of all the dysfunctional behaviors caused by change. It merely indicates some of the symptoms seen today in families, business, and societies.

Studies in human behavior demonstrates that people have a preference regarding what they would like to control, specially controlling the events that affect us personally – and if not these events, then the people involved in these events. There is no set guideline to determine if the change will be perceived minor or major, however, the change is considered major when it is perceived to be so by those affected. Major Change is the result of significant disruption in established expectations and it occurs when people believe they have lost control over some important aspect of their lives or their environment.

The process we use to adjust to the positive or negative implications of a major shift in our expectations is called Assimilation. Assimilating or absorbing such mismatches in expectations is not easy and the price is paid in the form of reduced intellectual energy, increased psychological stress, and diminished physical stamina and health. Every person, group, and organization has a certain number of assimilation points available. These points represent our capacity to absorb change. Like scarce resources, these points are not unlimited. Resilient people learn quickly to increase the number of their assimilation points and find it easier to stay within the limits of their personal assimilation budget. Disruptive changes always exert an assimilation fee. We spend assimilation points whether we accept or reject changes that come our way. Another key aspect to the nature of change is how we use our assimilation points. The demands on our assimilation capacity come from more than one direction:

  • Personal Changes affect us, our spouse, family, or close friends and associates
  • Corporate Changes occur, not just at work but with any institution that affects our lives, or our associates, clients/customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, etc.
  • Social or Macro Changes affect us as a part of a larger constituency

Personal change is when “I” must change; corporate change is when “We” must change; and social or macro change is when “Everyone” must change. Paradoxically, even though the term social or macro change sounds big, it actually has the least effect on an individual’s day-to-day behavior. Only when changes affect us personally do we begin to sit up and take notice. For an example, if there was an air crash, you will not be affected too much until one of your friends or relatives was on board. Until people see a personal connection between their own behavior and resolution of the organizational or macro issues, the problem is simply an intellectual exercise and not personally relevant.

Initiating Cultural Change

We need to manage change using our heads and our hearts, both. We need to know that our capacity to intellectually observe, form an opinion, decide, and act is greater than our capacity to move through the same sequence emotionally. Therefore, as we participate in organizational change we often make an intellectual commitment that far exceeds our emotional one. As a manager of organizational change, we must learn to deal with both the intellectual and emotional cycles of commitment, taking into consideration the differences between the two as you develop your implementation plans. Without getting into the anatomy of change process, following are certain measures, which can enhance the management’s resilience. These critical guidelines can enhance the success probability of any change initiative and must be addressed by the change agents before initiating the change process.

Take Change as a Process

The management should be willing to initiate the change with the assumption that it is a process not an event. A number of change initiatives were put in the cold storage during the earlier diagnostic phase because the magnitude of change was under-estimated.

Accept the Ambiguity as a Natural Reaction

By preparing the management in advance, to accept the discomfort and uncertainty, the resilience can be increased. It must be treated as a natural phenomenon during the change.

Calculate the Cost of No-Change

The resilience can also be increased if the cost of “no-change” is calculated, both in terms of current losses and also in terms of expected savings. The higher the cost of status quo, the lower the cost of transition and higher the resilience towards change.

Understand Concerns of Potential Resisters

The third step is to understand the concerns of potential resisters – to put yourself in their place. People resist change for the following reasons:

Fear: Change brings with it the fear of the unknown, and people fear the unknown. Worst-case scenarios are assumed and compounded by rumors. In this way, fear tends to grow with time.

Loss of Control: People value having a sense of control over their lives. There is security in control. Change can threaten this sense of security and cause people to feel as if they are losing control of their lives, jobs, areas of responsibility, and so on.

Uncertainty: Uncertainty is difficult to deal with. For better or worse, people like to know where they stand. Will I be able to handle this? What will happen to me if I can’t? These are the types of questions people have when confronted with change.

More work: Change sometimes means more work, at least at first. This concern includes work in the form of learning. In order to make the change, people may have to learn more information or develop new skills. For an undefined period, they may have to work longer hours.

Know the History of the Current Culture

Organizational cultures don’t just happen. Somebody wrote the policy that now inhibits competitiveness. Somebody started the tradition that is now such a barrier. Times and circumstances change. Don’t be too quick to criticize. Policies, traditions, and other aspects of the existing culture that now seem questionable may have been put in place for good reason in another time and under different circumstance. Learn the history behind the existing culture before trying to change it.

Identify Key People and Involve them

The change program must have the whole-hearted support from the key people (all the directors and the key management people). These key people can either facilitate or can inhibit implementation of the change. These people should be identified, brought together, and given the plan. Give advocates and inhibitors opportunities to state their cases. Record all concerns and deal with them.

Invest Resources in Building Commitment

The lack of commitment to Change is one of the prime reasons that winners are so rare. Building trust and commitment to change is not easy, and the process is something for which many people are not prepared. Resilient Organizations do not take people’s commitment for granted. They approach the development of trust and commitment is time consuming and expensive to attain. But once its infrastructure develops, the speed of assimilation can accelerate. Following are tips to remember, for the management wanting to build and enhance people’s commitment:

  • People respond to change at different intellectual and emotional rates. As we adjust to organizational change, we develop our opinion toward the change and make a decision to support or resist change.
  • Winning organizational commitment is both complex and costly. Most managers want full support for the changes that they hope to make, but they have little understanding of the effort and expends involved in acquiring it. Those days are gone when managers could say. “I don’t need to tell my employees anything or listen to them”. In today’s sophisticated and complex corporate environments, you will find many people who will kneel down in obedience, then bury your project when you turn around.
  • Managers often devote considerable resources to making the right decision about what should be changed, and then fail to build the commitment necessary to execute that decision. A well planned strategy will increase the probability that targets will commit to such an imperative change. Strategies for building commitment should not be limited to a few people. The long-range commitment can only be achieved if there is an alignment of individual and organizational values.
  • Either build commitment or prepare for the consequences. A change project’s importance to the organization and the degree of disruption it causes should determine the level of commitment required for success. The greater its significance and attendant disruption, the greater the amount of commitment required. There will be situations in which high levels of commitment are preferred, but its cost it too high. When full commitment is not feasible, your only choice is to prepare for resistance. Quite often, management decides not to invest in building target commitment, and then they are surprised by the resistance.
  • Sometimes it appears that the fastest way to implement change is to force it. But this approach only appears quick because most people do not calculate the cost of long-term, covert resistance. On the other hand, by slowing down, sometimes, it is possible to have the time for opening communication, involving employees, fostering empowerment, and developing good working relationships. Forcing compliance to change may assure the technical implementation of a change in the short-run but the long-range cost of recurring resistance will be too high

Take People’s Frame of Reference in to Account

We all know that individuals have different personalities, temperaments, experiences, backgrounds, fears, etc. leading to a different frame of references. Just like the tip of the iceberg, they have different needs and wants. The change agents should take individual’s frame of reference into account, while presenting various change strategies and initiatives. The people will be more receptive for change if:

  • the targets in the change project see the change as reducing rather than increasing their current burdens, responsibilities and work load by becoming more efficient and effective or through the introduction of Information Technology
  • the change initiative promises to offer new work experiences either through the introduction of new systems or personal development and training opportunities, that interests participants
  • participants are ensured that the change is ultimately going to enhance the Quality of their Lives and does not threaten their autonomy, independence and security
  • the change provides the participants opportunities to join and contributing the diagnostic efforts leading them to agree on what the basic problem is and to feel its importance
  • people are assured that only those recommendations will be adopted which has consensus of all. The consensus should follow the group discussion and must be free of vested interests
  • participants are assured that all the parties involved will be able to see both sides of the question and recognize valid objections and take steps to relieve unnecessary fears

Identify the Changes Needed

An organization’s culture dictates how people in it behave, respond to problems, and interact with each other. If the existing culture is a quality culture, it will have such characteristics as the following:

  • open, continual communication
  • mutually supportive internal partnerships
  • teamwork approach to problems and processes
  • obsession with continual improvement
  • broad-based employee involvement and empowerment
  • sincere desire for customer input and feedback

Does the organization’s culture have these characteristics? The best way to answer this question is to involve the entire workforce form bottom to top in a systematic assessment that is stratified by level (i.e., executive management, middle-management, first-line employee, and so on). A comprehensive assessment of an organization’s existing culture will usually identify improvements that need to be made. These improvements will require changes in the status quo. These changes should be listed without annotation or explanation.

Develop an Implementation Plan

The plan for effecting change is developed according to the Who-What-When-Where-How model. The plan should contain all five elements, and each element should be comprehensively dealt with. However, the plan should be brief. Be comprehensive and thorough, but keep it as brief as possible.

  • Who will be affected by changes? Who will have to be involved in order for the change to succeed? Who is likely to challenge the change?
  • What tasks must be accomplished? What are the most likely barriers? What are the related processes and procedures that will be affected by the change?
  • When should the change be implemented? When should progress be measured? When should be various tasks associated with the change be accomplished? When should implementation be completed?
  • Where will the change be implemented? Where ere the people and processes that will be affected?
  • How should the change be made? How will it affect existing people and processes? How will it improve quality, productivity, and competitiveness?

Facilitating Cultural Change

Establishing a quality culture is a lot like constructing a building. Once you have laid down the foundation, it involves specific guidelines to facilitate the cultural change. The responsibility for facilitating change necessarily falls to its advocates.

Keep a Facilitation Attitude

The first step in facilitating change is to adopt a facilitating paradigm. If change is to happen, advocates must begin with a different paradigm. When a change is advocated, ask such questions as the following:

  • Who will be affected by this change and how?
  • How will the change be perceived by those it affects?
  • How can the concerns of those affected by addressed?

Understand Emotional Response Curve

Advocates of the change will play key roles in its implementation. The success of the implementation will depend to large extent on how well advocates play their roles. It is essential that they understand the emotional transition people go through when force to deal with change; particularly unwanted change. The transition consists of sevens steps: shock, denial, realization, acceptance, rebuilding, understanding, and recovery. People who confront a change they don’t want to make may have to go through all seven steps in the transition. Advocates should understand this and proceed accordingly. Figure below illustrates the transition process people go through when confronted by one of these major traumatic changes in their lives.

The first emotional response to any type of change is shock. A person is living comfortably with the predictability of his or her life. Suddenly an un-expected change intrudes. A typically response to the shock it produces is denial. The change is so unwanted that the natural human response is to simply deny that it has happened. The length of the denial phase differs form person to person. Regardless of its length, the denial phase is temporary. Events force the issue, and the realization of reality begins to set in. As this happens, the person’s state of mind begins to fall. Depression is common during the realization phase. People need a lot of support during this phase. When realization bottoms out, acceptance occurs. Acceptance does not mean the person agrees with what has happened. Rather, it means that he or she is ready to say, “I have this problem, now what can I do about it?” This attitude allows the rebuilding process to begin. During this phase, People need as much support as they did during the realization phase. As the rebuilding phase is accomplished, understanding sets in. In this phase, people have come to grips with the change, and they are dealing with it successfully. This phase blends into the final phase, recovery. In this phase, people are getting on with their lives.

Managers hoping to instill a quality culture should understand this transitional process: The change from a transitional process. The change from a traditional organizational culture can be traumatic enough to trigger the process. Knowing this and understanding the process will help managers who are trying to instill a quality culture.

Use Head and a Heart Both

Advocates should be conscious of human nature as they work to implement change. On an intellectual level, people may understand and even agree with the reason behind a change. But understanding intellectually is rarely enough. People tend to react to change more on an emotion (hearts) level than on an intellectual (minds) level, at least initially. Therefore, it is important to take the time to deal with the inevitable emotional response that occurs in the early stages of implementation.

Stay Open to Listen and Observe

People are the primary inhibitors of change in any organization. Consequently, it is easy to become frustrated and adopt an attitude of “we could get a lot done if it weren’t for the people in this organization.” The problem with such an attitude is that people are the organization. For this reason, it is important to pay attention to both people and systems. Be prepared to listen and observe, Try to hear what is being said and observe what is not being said. Employees who are listened to are more likely to participate in changes than those who are not.

Address those Remedies which are Accessible

The change agents should treat those remedies first which are seen by the management as accessible and easy applicable.

Don’t Tamper but Improve Systems

Tampering with existing systems is not the same as improving them. Tampering occurs when changes are made without understanding why a given system works the way it does and without fully understanding what needs to be changed and why. In order to improve something, you must first understand what is wrong with it, why, and how to go about changing it for the better.

Keep Everyone Involved

People will resist change. To do this is a normal human behavior. What people really don’t like is being changed. It can be difficult to effect change even when people want to change. It can be impossible when people feel that changes are being imposed on them. The most effective way to ensure that employees will go along with changes is to involve them in planning and implementing the changes. Give them opportunities to express their concerns and fears. Getting problems into the open from the outset will allow them to be dealt with. Leaving them aside or ignoring them will guarantee that even little problems become big ones.

The change targets (including managers, supervisors, union leaders and other key people involved in the organization) must stay committed that the change is the only way of survival. They must have the ownership of planned change and must accept it as their own, not one devised or given by someone else (foreign principal, buyer, etc.) At some point in the process, those affected by change will have to take ownership of the change or it will fail. By involving those from the outset in planning for the change will have to take ownership of the change or it will fail. By involving them from the outset in planning for the change, Organizations can ensure that potential resisters understand it and have adequate opportunities to express their views and concerns about it. This type of involvement will help potential resisters develop a sense of ownership in the change which can, in turn, convert them to advocates.

Frequent, open, communication-preferably face-to-face-is the best strategy. Advocates should allow even the most negative opponents to voice their concerns and objections in open forums. Then these concerns should be answered in an objective, patient, non defensive manner. When the majority of employees accept the change, critical mass will set in and peer pressure will begin to work on the side of the advocates.

Avoid Surprises

The way in which the change is introduced must not be haphazard. It should be a careful planned and design effort. Predictability is important to people. This is one of the reasons they resist change. Change is unpredictable. It brings with it the fear of the unknown. For this reason, it is better to bring potential resisters into the process form the outset. Surprising potential resisters will turn them into committed resisters. It must be recognized that innovations and new initiatives are likely to be misunderstood and misinterpreted. In this case, the change effort must provide a process for feedback of views on the project and any further clarification, if required.

Move Slowly at First

In order to gain the support of potential resisters, it is necessary to let them evaluate the proposed change, express their concerns, weigh the expected benefits, and find ways to alleviate problems. This can take time. However, if advocates are perceived as rushing the change through, potential resisters will become distrustful.

Start Small and Stay Flexible

Change will be more readily accepted if advocates start small and are flexible enough to revise strategies that are not working as planned. This approach offers several benefits including (1) starting with a small pilot test or experiment is less threatening than a broad-based, all-encompassing implementation, (2) conducting a small pilot test an help identify unanticipated problems with the changes that valuable resources are not wasted moving in the wrong direction. The change initiative must be kept open to revision and reconsideration if experience indicates that the desired results are not achieved and there is a need for change in direction. Change is not made simply for the sake of change. It is made for the sake of continual improvement. Consequently, it should be taken constructively from the perspective of how it will bring about improvements.

Encourage Risk-Taking

The environment in which change takes place is determined by reward and recognition systems and examples set by managers. A reward and recognition system that does not reward risk-taking or that punishes employees for ideas that don’t work, will undermine change. Well thought out, sincere attempts to make improvements should be recognized and regarded even when they fail. Managers should roll up their sleeves and do their share of the work associated with change. This approach will create a positive environment that is conducive to change.

Incorporate the Change

The change will be more readily accepted if it is not expected to alter the religious, cultural or social values and ideals which have long Been acknowledged by the participants. Of course, this is not always possible. However, whenever it can be done, it should be done.

Use “Give and Take” Rule

This strategy could also be called “require something, give something”. If, for example, change will require intense extra effort on the part of selected employees for a given period of time, offer these employees some pay-off either before or immediately after the change is implemented. It can show employees that they are valued.

Respond Quickly and Positively

When potential resisters raise questions or express concerns, advocates should respond quickly and positively. Making employees wait for the answers magnifies the intensity of their concerns. A quick response can often eliminate the concern before it becomes a problem, and it will show employees that their concerns are considered important. A quick response does not mean a surface-level or inaccurate response made before having all the facts. Rather, it means a response made as soon as it can be made thoroughly and accurately. It is also important to respond positively. Advocates should not be offended by or impatient with the questions of potential resisters. A negative attitude toward questions and concerns only serves to magnify them.

Work with Leaders

In any organization, there are people who are looked towards as leaders. In some cases, those people are in leadership positions (supervisors, middle-managers, team captains, and so on). In other cases, they are informal leaders (highly respected employees whose status is based in their experience or superior knowledge and skills). The support of such leaders is critical. Other employees will take cues form them. The best way to get their support is to involve them in planning for the change from the outset.

Respect People Unconditionally

This strategy is fundamental to all aspects of total quality. It requires behavior that acknowledges the human resources as the organization’s most valuable resources. Without this strategy, the others won’t matter. The participants must be extensively trained in behavioral skills and must begin to develop acceptance of each other. Extensive training should also be provided in the interpersonal skills including conflict management to win support, trust and confidence in their relations with one another.

Provide Continuous Support

This final strategy is critical. It means that the material, moral, and emotional support needed by people undergoing change should be provided Undergoing change is a lot like walking a tightrope for the first time. It will work out a lot better if you have someone to help you get started, someone waiting at the other end to encourage progress, and a safety net underneath in case you fall. Planning is important.. Communication is critical. But support is essential.

Conclusion

Quality is a measure of customer satisfaction. TQ is a description of the culture of a business which delivers customer satisfaction in all activities a key part of this culture is the recognition that no deviation from customer requirement is ever acceptable, leading to a process of continuous improvement. To introduce a TQ culture will involve a major cultural change for employees. Managers must recognize that their prime role will no longer be one of supervision of their subordinates, but of continually improving the process under their control. Senior managers must demonstrate commitment to change, by showing leadership and setting the example. To do this and to keep dealing with day-to-day problems is far from easy. Management and staff have to be convinced of the benefits of changing the way they behave. It is a major problem to gain this conviction without which lasting culture change is not possible. Each situation and each individual tend to be unique and hence it is difficult to predict how a particular change will be regarded by those affected. In any case, it would be wrong to suppose that human beings will always resist change, despite the deep-seated and universal nature of the fears.

Knowing people’s psychology and understanding the characteristics of organizations that have strong quality cultures is important to any executive team that hopes to change the culture of its organization. Before implementing any of the specific strategies for establishing a quality culture, every person who will be involved in the change or affected by it must also be a part of it. Quoting Peter R. Scholtes, “The transformation to Quality Leadership is often dramatic, and almost always traumatic. Change is seldom easy. It is unlikely anyone will figure out how to change an organization without requiring its people to change. Therefore, we must all be sensitive to the problem that people will have with the transformation.”


Footnotes

[1] This section is heavily based on Daryl R. Conner, “Managing at the Speed of Change”, ODR Resources, Inc. 1992