Performance Excellence and Quality Management

Quality assurance frameworks have been around for over fifty years, the father of the movement being W. Edwards Deming in reconstruction Japan. Deming’s Fourteen Principles introduced a behavioural dimension and comprehensive structure to the more mechanistic precursors, Quality Control and Scientific Management, as developed by FW Taylor, Henry Ford and General Electric etc earlier in the century.

Since Deming, we have been deluged by waves of quality systems, definitions and frameworks – emanating both from Japanese and Euro-American thinking and industrial practice.

From Japan have come a variety of terms and approaches, invariably shop floor: 

  • Kanban, Poka Yoke, Gemba, Genka, Muri, Muda, Mura
  • Kaizen Improvement Teams
  • Toyota Production System – 3 Wastes, 7 Steps, JIT, Autonomation
  • Lean Manufacturing

Key insights included “creating value for the customer is the sole goal”, “preserving value with less work”, “continuous improvement”, “quality assigned via design”, and “Pull / flow”. Lean Manufacturing has four goals – Improve Quality, Eliminate Waste, Reduce Time, and Reduce Total Costs. Lean is now a widely adopted and proven pathway towards greater customer value and improved operating surplus. (An Altiora client achieved a 30% reduction in time via Lean Manufacturing)

Gathering stimulus from the pioneering Fordism and Japanese work have come the EuroAmerican increasingly holistic responses, such as: 

  • Numerous Comparator Tools, such as Benchmarking and Best Practice
  • ISO
  • Six Sigma
  • Balanced Scorecard
  • TQM
  • Business Excellence (whose American version is Baldrige)

To contrast these frameworks, ISO is the most bureaucratic, measurement-oriented and static system, while Business Excellence is the most comprehensive and holistic, broadening the theory into business performance and competitiveness. Business Excellence envelops in its criteria all key business drivers and values, and puts great store by Customers and Business Performance. Lean Manufacturing fits appropriately within Business Excellence. For a manufacturing or process business, Lean is still hugely ambitious and perhaps the best place to begin.

However you improve your customer value proposition, may I wish your business an excellent future!