TQM as Strategy implementation

We can see the three elements common to strategy implementation in one increasingly common type of strategic change: the adoption of total quality management (TQM). A successful TQM program may change the structure of an organization through conversion to a more team oriented, worker empowered approach; it changes the culture as the commitment to quality is institutionalized and organization members at all levels think about quality in new ways; and it changes operations through improved processes, clarified instructions, modeling of behavior by top management, and training in new ways to accomplish work. This form of strategy implementation is far from easy. In fact, The Wall Street Journal reported in 1992 that two thirds of all quality improvement programs ultimately fail because organizations do not adequately understand the process.

Xerox is an example of an organization that has successfully embraced quality. At Xerox, long one of the nation’s most successful corporate ventures, a crisis necessitated the turn to quality. For years Xerox was virtually synonymous with the photocopier business. Then the Japanese targeted the industry and started to take away business. At one point in the 1980s Xerox was near bankruptcy – it had gone from having almost 100 percent of the market to less than 10 percent. How did this happen? one of Xerox’s major problems was quality. Its machines broke down, and its newer designs were flawed. Furthermore, communication about these problems was hampered by a bureaucratic structure with many layers of management. To turn the company around, management made a commitment to embrace quality throughout the organization.

Xerox instituted extensive training programs for all of its over 100,000 employees worldwide, from the CEO on down. As employees were trained, they become trainers themselves. This helped to solidify and communicate the quality principles and kept them fresh in the trainers’ minds. In addition, Xerox empowered teams of workers and focused their efforts on quality:

Xerox is a quality company. Quality is the basic principle for Xerox:

Quality means providing our external and internal customers with innovative products and services that fully satisfy their requirements. Quality improvement is the job of every Xerox employees.

In the 1990s Xerox is still working on redesigning its management and organizational structure. CEO Paul Allaire has brought in new managers from outside the organization because outsiders can often spot problems more rapidly than those long immersed in the traditional Xerox culture. Xerox is also forming joint ventures with Sun Microsystems and Microsoft. The transition to new structures, a new culture, and new ways of operating is not without difficulty and struggle. In fact, Allaire believes that Xerox will need to change more in the next five years than it has in the last 10 years. But it has made important changes that should help it weather the storms of the next few years.

Matching Structure and Strategy:

Successful implementation depends in part on how the organization’s activities are divided, organized, and coordinated – in short, on the structure of the organization. Not surprisingly, the chances that an organization’s strategy will succeed are far greater when its structure matches its strategy. By the same token, as its basic strategy changes over time, so must its structure.

Quality is either a written or non-written commitment to a known or unknown consumer in the market. Since the market or the target market itself is decided by the company, as to which type of consumer or customer to cater to, quality is a strategic marketing decision taken by the company itself at the outset. We may broaden this concept by saying that the quality of products to be produced by a corporation is a corporate level decision. It is a decision based on various marketing considerations, production constraints manpower or personnel constraints and equipment or technology constraints. The decision regarding quality are not really in the realm of one functional manager as this involves overall strategic decisions for the running of the business of a corporation.

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