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Managing Quality:


Kaizen and Total Quality Management (TQM)

A movement aimed at improvement of managerial performance at all levels

By Vadim Kotelnikov, Founder, The first-ever BUSINESS e-COACH, 1000ventures.com

"Everybody in an organization has to believe their livelihood is based on the quality of the product they deliver" Lee Iacocca


Main Differences between TQM Practices in Japan the West


  • deals with quality of people

  • customer-oriented

  • upstream

  • process-oriented, aimed at improving  the total performance

  • company-wide, everybody's responsibility

The West:

  • deals with quality of products

  • manufacturer-oriented

  • downstream

  • product-oriented, aimed at detecting and eliminating defective parts

  • responsibility of quality control managers

The Seven Main Features of the TQC Movement in Japan

  1. Company-wide TQC, involving all employees, organization, hardware, and software

  2. Emphasis on education and training for top management, middle management and workers

  3. Quality control (QC) circle activities by small groups of volunteers

  4. TQC audits

  5. Application of statistical methods

  6. Constant revision and upgrading of standards

  7. Nation-wide TQC promotion



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The Three TQM Goals at Japan Steel Works

  1. To provide products and services that satisfy customer requirements and earn customer trust

  2. To steer the corporation toward higher profitability through such measures as improved work procedures, fewer defects, lower costs, lower debt service, and more advantageous order filling

  3. To help employees fulfill their potential for achieving the corporate goal, with particular emphasis on such areas as policy deployment and voluntary activities

Areas Targeted by TQM in Japan

Product Quality Improvement

Improvements in the Workplace


  • Education and training

  • Organizational / systems development

  • Cross-functional management

  • Policy deployment

  • Quality deployment

Supply, Production, and Selling Chain

  • Supply management

  • Meeting production quotas

  • Meeting delivery schedules

  • Marketing

  • Sales

  • Services

What is TQM Concept in Japan?

TQM, also known as Total Quality Control (TQC), is a management tool for improving total performance. TQC means organized Kaizen activities involving everyone in a company managers and workers in a totally systemic and integrated effort toward improving performance at every level. It is to lead to increased customer satisfaction through satisfying such corporate cross-functional goals as quality, cost, scheduling, manpower development, and new product development.

In Japan, TQC activities are not limited to quality control only. Elaborate system of Kaizen strategies has been developed as management tools within the TQC approach. TQC in Kaizen is a movement aimed at improvement of managerial performance at all levels.


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According to the Japan Industrial Standards, "implementing quality control effectively necessitates the cooperation of all people in the company, including top management, managers, supervisors, and workers in all areas of corporate activities such as market research and development, product planning, design, preparation for production, purchasing, vendor management, manufacturing, inspection, sales and after-sale services, as well as financial control, personnel administration, and training & education. Quality control carried out in this manner is called company-wide quality control or total quality control (TQC)."

Quality control in Japan deals with quality of people. It is the fundamental concept of the Kaizen-style TQC. Building quality into its people brings a company a half-way towards producing quality products.

Education and Training

As a natural follow-up to the concept of building quality into people, TQC starts with education and training of managers and workers. The major aim of these awareness and training programs is to implant TQC thinking in all employees.

TQC education and training is a continuous process. Separate courses for different organizational levels are organized to reach everyone in the company.

Quality Control Circles (QCCs)

To involve employees in productivity and efficiency improvement activities, a team-based environment must be developed in which they can participate actively in improving their process, product, or service performance. One such employee participation program is quality control circles (QCCs).

QC-circle activities are usually directed towards improvements in the workplace. They focus on such areas as:

  • cost

  • safety

  • productivity

Case Studies: Survey by NPC, Malaysia

A 2002 survey on quality control circles (QCCs) by the National Productivity Corporation (NPC) of Malaysia revealed that the majority of the respondents were from the manufacturing (42.0%) and service (31.0%) sectors. Most of the projects undertaken were related to members' own workplaces, work processes, service delivery, and product development. The vast majority (95.1%) of the respondents said that QCC activities had helped reduce operational costs, with savings reported ranging from US$125.00 to US$2 million, with the median of US$50,000.

In 2004, the NPC launched the Innovative and Creative Circle (ICC) Program, which expanded the QCC approach to focus on innovation. It aims at promoting knowledge sharing, creative thinking, innovation for value creation, and cost optimization. The first National ICC Convention was held in September 2004.1

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  1. "Productivity Improvement in the Service Sector," Mah Lok Abdullah, APO Newsletter, January 2005

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What is Kaizen - Implementation Steps - Kaizen Blitz - Roadblocks

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