Management facilitators role in TQM


Total Quality Management (TQM) is really about change. Yet some companies are pursuing TQM as a kind of system for reducing waste and improving products or service quality, more like the application of the ISO 9000 series. TQM is about a system of management based on certain core principles of good management of people and resources.

The change has to occur in the mindset of a traditional organization, which is a carry-forward of the Taylor system of mass production. Frederick Taylor’s thinking, which formed a strong basis for the Industrial Revolution. Japan probably understood this in the late 1950s and rejected Taylorism as a management system as is did not fit in with the ethos and culture of Japan. Japan’s subsequent movement over the last forty years from devastated economy to an economic power house is testimony to the fact that growth is possible when human beings are valued authentically.

The people within an organization in the twenty-first century will demand the psychological satisfaction of contributions that they make. The world has gone so far and so fast in the last fifty years that technological development in every sphere of activity is an unstoppable process. The focus will be on how people within the organization optimally use the latest technology in the shortest possible time frames to counteract the rate of technological obsolescence. The transition towards a TQM culture, as opposed to Taylorism, is best brought about by in-company change agents or facilitators. The role of the change agents and the manner they should be trained forms the subject matter of this article.

A change agent from within is likely to be more effective than an outsider. An outsider must empower full internal change agents within a true frame to be useful; the internal change agent must, in turn, empower the rest of the staff.

It is quite possible for trained consultants and specialists to bring about and initiate changes within an organization that are temporary and based largely upon the quality of interaction of the outsider. However sustainable change in any form, and particularly those that relate to human beings and mindsets, cannot be imposed by an outsider to any organizational system. Hence it is logical to explore the methodology by which the insiders within a system are involved as change agents who can continuously interact with the people in the organization, understanding their fears and helping them through the process of positive change.

Trainers involved in developing people require some special gifts and skills that can be learnt only by an elite few. Experience has shown clearly that people within an organization in any function, who have experienced life, are quite capable of functioning as good trainers. Where internal trainers have been developed, their ratings by the people within the company have been consistently higher than outside consultants, simply because the internal trainers understand the management culture, the work ethos and the problems with much more clarity.

The design of the inputs for internal change agents has to be such that they not only understand the theory but also apply it under real life conditions within the organizations as a part of their learning process. The design for change agents therefore must incorporate aspects related to application, while simultaneously creating beneficial changes within the organization during the time of learning. It is only in the principal of application that theory can really be internalized.

Many companies appoint consultants in the hope that their responsibility for change can be delegated to a consultant. The consultant too does not give any signals to the contrary, thereby increasing the dependence on the outsider. It becomes essential when starting an internal resources building process for the outsider to state a time-frame in which transference will be completed. This increases the pressure on the management to take ownership for supporting the in-company change agents in a manner where they feel adequately empowered within a time-frame to release the outsider. The stating of the time-frame is therefore crucial.

In the case of very large organizations with a turnover of over $250 million and employee strength exceeding 10,000, the period of the external consultant should not be more than forty-eight months.. This simultaneously puts healthy pressure on the outsider to perform against a tangible goal.

The movement therefore has to be to develop internal trainers and facilitators by providing them with the skills and knowledge that an outside specialist may be in a position to give. The real test of the outsider’s competence is the transference accomplished by the internal trainer / facilitator within the organization. Companies must therefore look at the consultant’s ability to transfer the skills that he has, rather than his skills alone.

There is no aspect of TQM implementation so difficult that it is outside the scope of an average employee in an organization. It has been found that even many workers who have an education level up to the fourth standard can clearly understand the concepts and implement them. The approach to training and learning has to be changed wherein we believe that no theory is good enough if it cannot be implemented.