"Visions of World Benefit & Global Responsibility: Perspectives of McGill Students

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Worldwide Management of Quality

In an era where competition between organizations has intensified worldwide, businesses in all countries have to stay aware of what techniques are being used elsewhere to remain competitive. Instead of cutting costs to increase profits, a new idea has come to be, the one where there are no more trade-offs between quality and costs and is referred to as total quality management and KAIZEN, as the Japanese call it. This concept has not only been proven to be successful in organizations but is also now being applied by important international organizations.

The idea of the management of quality is different than other traditional techniques of command in control in organizations since it tries to create profit and increase productivity through continuous improvements, innovation and eliminating non-value added activities and defects. It attempts to increase the participation and efficiency from everyone, from CEOs, employees and suppliers, throughout the whole value chain and supply chain. KAIZEN first emerged in Japan at the Toyota Production System Plant, where it was very successful and moved to other industries such electronics. Today, all around the world, the Japanese are recognized for their quality products.

The main leaders in this concept are well known DR. W. Edwards Deming, who emphasized more the statistical process of quality control, and Joseph M. Juran, who focused more on the management of quality. Both of these men help build the science of quality during their stay in Japan after World War II, in the 1950’s. It is only later, in the 1970’s and 1980’s that KAIZEN started to gain attention in the United States, well after Japan, with a third expert named Philip Crosby and his 14 steps program for improvement.

Throughout the recent years, new tools and techniques associated with the concept of quality have come to be very useful for companies, such as the balance scorecard, the quality function deployment, the Taguchi method and value engineering among others. In addition, published standards of quality have also emerged, such as ISO 9000, which ‘sets down the minimum requirements for a reliable and effective Quality Assurance system within a company[1]’, which is given through external assessment. ISO 9000 therefore gives organizations external feedback on every aspect of their company, from employee training, supplier development to new product development, along with invaluable knowledge on themselves and an important competitive advantage. Furthermore, quality awards in the United States and Japan were created and are now sought after by companies.

Moreover, the concept of quality has extended its influence in all areas of life, including the community, the state and international organizations. For example, the ASQ, the American Society for Quality, is using its knowledge and international influence to help the UN Global Compact[2]. The UN Global Compact brings companies together with UN agencies, labour and civil society to support universal environmental and social principles[3]. The ASQ is there to help the Global Compact maximize its work and efforts in a productive and efficient way. This new and innovative partnership is a significant new application of the idea of quality management and continuous improvement since it will better help the achievement of the goal of the UN Global Compact which is to create a sustainable environment for companies and society.

A partnership such as this one brings together knowledgeable people from different areas and corners of the world and can potentially have worldwide effects on nations and communities. This is significant for leaders and managers of companies which will have to get on board to remain on the far front of new development and initiatives in optimizing their systems for the benefit of society.

[1] Gerard Ryan, University College Dublin, Quinn School of Business, 2006
[2] Steven G. Brant, Quanlity and Globalizaiton: Creating Breakthrough Prosperity in the 21st Century, 2003
[3] http://www.unglobalcompact.org/AboutTheGC/index.html, Retrieved July 21st, 2007

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