HOW OLD IS THE QUALITY CONCEPT
TQM in its various forms appears to dominate business life nowadays. Quality in fact has been around for quite a long time and has progressed from stages of playing a purely reactive role (inspection) to its present prominence in shaping the competitive strategy of business.
Age of quality:
- Quality did not emerge until the era of mass production, as part of Frederick Taylor’s scientific management preaching. One role of supervisors was to carry out inspection of the work of their subordinates.
- However, the man who spearheaded the quality movement was W A Shewart, who in 1931 gave a clearer definition of Total Quality Control, how to measure and control it.
- Shewart argued that variability has to be accepted as a way of life and that differences between parts, peoples’ skills and process parameters, lead to differences between the same (different) goods produced.
- Shewart debated that by using statistical and probability techniques, variability can be better understood, monitored and controlled.
Stages of quality:
- Quality then underwent various stages of evolution comprising sampling (to check a limited number of items representing the whole batch to find out about overall behaviour/state of quality).
- The quality assurance era involved the work of pioneers such as Juran, Feingenbaum (on Total Quality Control), Reliability
- Engineering (checking product performance over time) and the concept of Zero Defect advocated by people like Crosby who believes that perfect quality is both technically possible and economically desirable.
Movement of the quality:
- The quality movement has carried on progressing until the present day, when quality has taken a central place in determining organisational objectives and competitive indices.
- It seems that besides the Japanese, the rest of the world has suddenly woken up from a long sleep with eagerness and a sense of urgency to be updated on all the potential benefits of quality when adopted as a way of conducting business.