TQM stands for "Total Quality Management" and infers that a Total Quality Strategy will improve business by proactively improving customer service and job quality. However, it is not true to say that all businesses manage to implement such a strategy fully - many only achieve what is referred to as PQM (Partial Quality Management). In fact, the Canadian Conference Board's completed a number of global studies which highlighted the fact that 70 percent of companies in North America do not manage to reach this ultimate goal, although it is true to say that many companies are yet to consider this method of running their business.

Lou Holtz, a football coach for Notre Dame has observed that people often say and promise more than they will actually accomplish. Catchy slogans, impassioned speeches, and clever advertising will not compensate for a lack of true quality and service.

Putting your company's talk into practice by moving up from PQM to TQM is tough, but these guidelines will help you do it.


Cohesion and communication in business are important. Businesses are often divided into different levels-senior management, middle-level managers, and the workers. Communication often comes from the top down through the different levels. Recently, senior management at Finning, Ltd in Vancouver decided to shake things up. The CEO, Jim Shepard and his team decided to take employee training programs first and then they took it upon themselves to train the rest of the staff. This makes communications easier-managers can relay their goals directly and get feedback from the rest of the staff. Also, interacting together can help staff feel like they are part of a team.


Focus and Support Groups -- Many of today's most effective companies have at their core specialized teams and groups geared toward improving/increasing productivity within each organizational department or division. It is important to keep in mind, however, that most medium to large organizations can only handle a relatively small number of such teams, so supervisors must not make the mistake of allowing more groups to be formed than are necessary. Also, they may find that their "old-guard" managers and departmental leaders may not mesh well with these newer-style improvement groups, feeling that coaches are better suited for directing sports than business. More often than not, they equate the term "fostering innovation" with "If I want to hear your ideas, I will tell you what to say." These "old-guard" leaders and experts who put in place and control in minute detail the cross-function processes within the organization, at best, offer an unenthusiastic ear to advice offered for adjusting operations that currently may be hindering the excellence of work desired.


Improved Reporting and Planning - The quality and service improvement that should be overseen with rigor and discipline, which proper business planning is all about. Supervisors with more subordinates, money and training at improving the business has little expectation. Often it ends with even less or no service or quality. A superior organization can be most effective with teamwork from management, work teams, board members or union members, with a little extra effort from the vendors or customers that will develop the quality strategy. The same effort given to financial statements should be put into quality and service ratings and the reporting system.


An indication that PQM rather than TQM is taking place is the excessive reliance on just a few improvement techniques and tools. There is no silver bullet that cures all ills within an organization. A TQM implementation will utilize many balanced techniques across a broad spectrum of the company. Enhanced customer focus, overall product improvement, an increased emphasis and perception of value from all levels of the organization must be fostered. Monitoring and analyzing data that are critical to performance (known at Xerox as "management based on fact") allows the company to apply resources across many areas of improvement but with greater precision. All this implies that TQM leads to leadership development and a wholesale change in company culture.