Posts Tagged ‘Quality Management’

maart 25th, 2013 · by John · Weblog EN

The ancient Greeks called it Aretè, often translated as virtue, but “reaching our highest potential” or excellence comes nearer to the original concept. Excellence is about superiority in a good way, having an unusual degree of good qualities. We can strive for excellence but we will never reach it, because there will always be another business trying to outdo us. The journey for excellence therefore never ends, and we must keep on looking for new ways to improve our organization.

The Wealth of Nations

Business excellence in the sense of improving the performance of an organization started with Adam Smith. In his “Wealth of Nations” (1776) Smith recognized how division of labor could increase output. In a society where production was dominated by handcrafted goods, one man would perform all the activities in the production process. Smith described how that work was divided into a set of simple tasks, performed by specialized workers.

Scientific Management

In the last decades of the 19th century, Frederick Taylor started the scientific management movement.  Taylor believed in transferring control from workers to management. He increased the distinction between mental (planning) and manual labor (executing). Detailed plans specifying the job, and how it was to be done, were to be formulated by management and communicated to the workers. Scientific management had a huge impact on mass production principles. Henry Ford significantly improved productivity by organizing processes differently. He for instance introduced the conveyor to organize an assembly line, and standardized methods and tools to decrease variation and cost.

Toyota Production System

World War II left Japan a poor country. Scarcity of resources and technology forced companies to focus on efficiency and customer requirements. The idea of continuous improvement was one of the most important innovations of this era. These new principles became part of the most successful business case of all times, the Toyota Production System. The objectives of TPS were:

  • To design a process capable of delivering required results smoothly without inconsistency.
  • To ensure processes are flexible without stress or overburden since this generates waste.
  • To address waste (anything that does not advance the process or everything that does not increase value).

Total Quality Management

The 1980s showed the birth of Total Quality Management. TQM was a management philosophy for continuously improving the quality of products and processes. Its basic principle was that meeting or exceeding customer requirements is the responsibility of everyone involved in the creation or consumption of products and services.

Six Sigma

Two decades later Six Sigma came into being. Six Sigma aimed for an error free business performance with a rigorous focus on meeting or exceeding customer requirements. Six Sigma included the tools and philosophies of TQM, but also led to improvements.

  • TQM failed where management did not participate and backed it up. Six Sigma required management involvement.
  • TQM did not require teams to work on projects and creating a culture of continuous improvement. Six Sigma did.
  • TQM never defined a methodology for its implementation. Six Sigma provides an improvement model known as DMAIC.

Six Sigma also had more advanced statistical tools than TQM. Incorporating these tools created opportunities for bigger and better improvements.


Lean had its roots in the Toyota Production System. The core idea was to maximize customer value by eliminating waste. Lean therefore meant creating more value with fewer resources. It changed the focus of management from optimizing separate technologies, assets and vertical departments, to optimizing the horizontal flow of products and services through value streams that flow across technologies, assets and departments to customers.

Lean Six Sigma

Lean focused on reducing waste by creating efficient processes. The focus of Six Sigma was on creating perfection in the output of these processes. As both systems were complementing each other, Lean and Six Sigma were combined into Lean Six Sigma (LSS). LSS incorporates all proven tools and philosophies and, because it is open to new and better methods, it helps us in our continuing strive for excellence.

John Greijmans


oktober 9th, 2012 · by John · Weblog EN

Some twenty-five years ago, in my first real job, I was confronted with quality management for the first and, I am happy to say, not for the last time. Mind you, we did not have ISO9000 yet, and not everyone was thinking in terms of quality at that point in time. Today, quality is a concept often used in business and management. Nevertheless I would like to share my ideas as to what quality stands for, and how we can achieve it.

Quality: Meet Expectations

Quality can be defined as meeting requirements or being fit for the purpose. Quality management is often associated with meeting customers’ requirements, but it has a broader meaning. There are also other stakeholders in and around the organization, and all of them have requirements. Employees might for example want to work in a safe and healthy environment, and society does want the organization to reduce its carbon footprint.

Total Quality Management (TQM) integrates the processes for achieving these requirements into a holistic system for continuously improving the quality of products and processes. In other words, TQM requires the involvement of management, staff, suppliers and customers, in order to meet or exceed expectations of the relevant stakeholders.

Apart from systems like ISO and OHSAS, which basically are certificates showing that the organization can deliver the specific requirements, I have used two methodologies to implement and practice continuous improvement: EFQM and Lean Six Sigma.

EFQM: Enable the Results

The EFQM model helps organizations in meeting stakeholder requirements. The model has organizations measuring where they are on the path to excellence; that is continuously meeting and exceeding requirements. It helps organizations understand the gap between excellence and actual performance, and it stimulates them to find the solution needed to bridge that gap.

The EFQM model actually is a simple cause-and-effect diagram. There are five Enablers (leadership, strategy, people, partnerships and processes) and four Result areas (customer, people, society and business results). The enablers cover what an organization does, the results what an organization achieves. To improve results, the organization must improve the performance of the enablers. Quality management is as simple as that.

Lean Six Sigma: Eliminate the Waste

Lean is focused on eliminating seven kinds of waste: defects, overproduction, transportation, waiting, inventory, motion and over-processing. As waste is not needed to achieve a stakeholder requirement, it should be eliminated in order to achieve quality. For the same reason, Six Sigma focusses on reducing waste in the production of goods and services to a rate of 3.4 defects per million opportunities (DPMO).

The combination of Lean and Six Sigma is called Lean Six Sigma (LSS). It uses a project methodology named DMAIC, which stands for the project phases: define, measure, analyze, implement and control. DMAIC also contains a toolkit with methods to attack and improve situations where quality is not delivered. The tool I like most is 5WHY: by asking five times why something has happened, you will arrive at the root cause of the non-conformance.

Achieve Excellence through EFQM and Lean Six Sigma

So what methodology should we use to achieve excellence: EFQM or LSS? As you might have guessed, this is not an either/or question, you have to use them both! By focusing on results, EFQM will guide you to set the objectives you want to achieve. The enablers will point out where and what you should improve in order to meet these objectives. Lean Six Sigma provides a methodology and a toolkit to achieve the improvement. When you have realized the objective, you set yourself a new and challenging target, and you are effectively improving continuously.

John Greijmans


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