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Total Quality Management

The European Foundation for Quality Management [EFQM] and the American National Institute for Standards and Technology [NIST] each sponsor a Total Quality management [TQM] Award. The NIST award is called the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award . The EFQM Quality Award follows the EFQM Excellence Model. There are similar awards in many other countries, including Australia. Both awards are based upon the Japanese based Deming Prize based upon a Total Quality Control [TQC] framework (although many Japanese now state that this was TQM which was mistranslated into English into TQC as the Japanese use the same Kanji/Katakana-Hiragana for TQM/TQC). 

In essence the Excellence frameworks have the same aim and use many similar criteria, generally consisting of 7 or 8 major criteria.


The EFQM excellence criteria are:

  • Customer focus.
  • Results orientation.
  • Corporate social responsibility.
  • Leadership and constancy of purpose.
  • People development and involvement.
  • Continuous learning. Improvement and innovation.
  • Partnership development.
  • Managament by processes and facts.

The EFQM criteria have undergone the most recent changes to reflect some of the industrial and societal shifts in the past decade.


The Baldrige performance excellence criteria are:

  • Leadership— how senior executives guide the organization and how the organization addresses its responsibilities to the public and practices good citizenship.
  • Strategic planning— how the organization sets strategic directions and how it determines key action plans.
  • Customer and market focus— how the organization determines requirements and expectations of customers and markets, and satisfies them.
  • Measurement, analysis, and knowledge management— the management, use, analysis and improvement of data and information to support key organization processes and the  performance management system.
  • Workforce focus— how the organization enables its workforce to develop its full potential and how the workforce is aligned with the organization’s objectives.
  • Process management— aspects of how key production/delivery and support processes are designed, managed, and improved.
  • Results— the organization’s performance and improvement in its key business areas: customer satisfaction, financial and marketplace performance, human resources, supplier and partner performance, operational performance, and governance and social responsibility. The category also examines how the organization performs relative to competitors.  

Problems with EFQM Baldrige

The EFQM and Baldrige Awards face similar problems and challenges.

Despite the clear role of leadership in the criteria, the leadership of many organizations fail to follow the good and best practices promoted by the excellence frameworks. In the past decade, major corporate collapses such as Worldcom, Enron, and Parmelat amongst others highlight how inadequate and perhaps even corrupt leadership and management in organizations can completely ignore or destroy excellence initiatives. On a more moderate scale, inadequate leaders and managers often ignore the requirements of their roles to strive for excellence and place pressure upon others to also ignore these requirements to focus on short term gain and profits. Unenlightened leadership may also focus on only part of the criteria, such as processes or customers and ignore all the other criteria. While this may lead to more immediate gains, it can also be compared to building sand castles - the first major flood of challenges destroy the entire organization.

Implementing the criteria takes concerted effort from all people involved in the organization. Simple laziness and forgetfulness combined with indifference can quickly lead to failure. While this is also true of quality systems conforming to ISO9000, with the excellence awards it is more critical as there are less independent [audit] checks to correct problems.

Implementing the criteria is basically an all out approach [See why Big Bang approaches mostly create a lot of noise]. Hence it is difficult to use the frameworks within a department or team on their own. It also means that the motivation element required for individuals is not always adequate in the Big Bang approaches. This is where the STARS approach is superior, as it can work from the individual to the team to the organization.

There is an assumed aim for the expected culture of the organization that is not always clear or implementable. The existing culture is also assumed to be readily changeable. See STARS concerning the fallibility of assumptions and the STARS Cultural theme.

Most importantly, the quality awards are only now starting to adjust to the requirements for Sustainability. The impact of an organization in terms of resources used and benefits delivered has until now not considered long term social and environmental sustainability criteria. The EFQM award is the first to move in this direction with the recent addition of the Corporate Social Responsibility criteria.

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