Total Quality Management/ TQM Models of Quality Improvement

Total quality management, TQM, and its related theoretical models of quality improvement, is currently recognized as an essential management quality improvement tool.

This article forms the introductory part of a case study titled “The Application of  the Six Sigma Model of Quality Improvement in Total Quality Management. A Case Study of Amazon” As stated in the research topic, the rest of the case study paper analyzes Amazon’s application of the Six Sigma Model of Quality Improvement in its Total Quality Management Strategy.

What is Total Quality Management (TQM)?

Total quality management is the strategic quality improvement of business functions that helps organizations to efficiently harness their human and material resources. The quality improvement of business process operations in total quality management is done in order to achieve the desired end objectives of an organization (Poornima, 2009).

The 6 C’s of Total Quality Management/ Core Concepts of TQM

The Core Concepts or 6 C’s of quality improvement in total quality management include;

  • Control   
  • Continuous improvement
  • Customer focus   
  • Commitment    
  • Cooperation    
  • Culture

In a broad sense, total quality management, TQM, stresses that quality improvement is crucial for the management of sustainable organizations that meet the present needs of its clients without compromising the organization’s ability to meet such demands in the future. 

It is upon business organizations to study their clients and understand their expectations on the type and quality of products and services. Additionally, it’s the duty of business managers to make plans for a sustainable business management approach that will keep meeting future demands and maintain a continuous, long-term engagement with customers (Poornima, 2009).

Total quality management, TQM, Six (6) C's of TQM
Six (6) C’s of Total quality management

Total Quality Management Models of Quality Improvement

TQM models of quality improvement view the firm as a collection of its processes and aim to provide effective methods of improving business processes in order to achieve continuous quality improvement. This is achieved by building the capacities of both an organization’s workers and its management. Total quality management theories help organizations to make the right decisions at the right time in anticipation of future growth and success.

It is estimated that by applying TQM models of quality improvement, organizations can continue to design products that suit the expectations of clients at an affordable price as they take full control of their product designs, streamline costs and reduce unnecessary processes that do not add any value to the organization (Mukherjee, 2006).

Several TQM models, such as Juran’s Quality Trilogy Model of Quality Improvement, The Deming System of Profound Knowledge, and the Walter Shewhart “Obstacles to Success” have been developed over the years to help businesses build collective, individual, and organizational structures that can be used to improve the quality and efficiency of business functions.

Quality Management Models continue to encourage concepts such as employee engagement, visionary leadership, a systems perspective, and the constancy of purpose. This case study paper on the models of quality improvement will discuss the context of these models and their application in total quality management.

Moreover, the paper will analyse the case study of Amazon’s Six Sigma Model of total quality management by researching its application and usefulness in improving the quality of business management at Amazon.

Juran’s Trilogy Model of Quality Improvement and  TQM

The Juran Trilogy Model of quality improvement represents the concepts of quality control, quality planning, and quality improvement (Oakland, 2003). This model guides organizations on a series of processes of total quality management that effectively plan, monitor, and improve the quality of their products.

According to the Juran Trilogy Model, managing for quality consists of 3 quality-oriented processes:

  1. Quality planning
  2. Quality control
  3. Quality improvement

1. Quality Planning in Juran Trilogy Model of TQM

The role of quality planning is to help organizations develop methods that will enable them to meet their quality improvement goals under the current operating conditions.

This phase is concerned with the design of products and processes that align with both organizational goals and client needs. Quality planning spans across all functions of the organizations, such as the design of new products, new production processes, or innovative ways of responding to client requests.

Quality planning in total quality management involves identifying the potential clients of the firm and then defining their needs. The organization then specifies the features of the product it intends to introduce to its clients at a minimum cost. Later, the firm decides on the design of processes that it used to produce these features under the prevailing operating conditions reliably.

2. Quality Control in Juran Trilogy Model of TQM

The purpose of quality control is to ensure organizations are working with optimal effectiveness under the necessary, correct processes.

This quality control stage of total quality management aims to manage the organization’s daily operations to meet its quality goals (Slack, 2010). Some of the processes involved include;

Choosing quality control measurement subjects

Choosing units of quality measurement

Interpreting differences between quality measurement and goals

Establishing a quality measurement procedure

Taking swift action to correct significant differences in quality

3. Juran Trilogy Model of Quality Improvement in TQM

The role of theories of quality improvement is to help organizations come up with new innovative ways that help them improve their performance to unprecedented levels.

The Juran Trilogy Model of quality improvement allows organizations to remove defects in their products and address shortcomings in their planning processes (Slack, 2003).

Some of the steps involved in the quality management phase of Juran’s trilogy model include;

Proving the need for improvement

Identifying the projects or areas for improvement

Organizing methods for diagnosis in case of defects

Diagnosis of the causes of quality defects

Providing remedies to product defects

Proving quality control models in order to maintain quality improvement gains

The Deming System of Profound Knowledge

The Deming System of Profound Knowledge by Edward Deming makes a broad range of quality improvement models and recommendations for effective total quality management. Deming understood that humans choose to follow a path of least resistance; thus, this could significantly have an impact on shaping their total quality management models in order to accomplish their values, mission, and vision (Karapetrovic & Jonker, 2003).

Therefore, Deming made an argument that for organizations to achieve their quality improvement objectives, there had to be a radical transformation in their total quality management style. This transformation will provide profound knowledge that will help stakeholders understand the organization and its main objectives.

Therefore, the first step of Deming’s model of quality improvement is the transformation of the individual. It is estimated that a transformed individual will perceive new meaning to his life; thus, they will apply its principles to transform the total quality management strategy of an organization (Poornima, 2009). 

According to Deming, a transformed individual will set a good example, continually teach other people, not compromise, and influence people towards a new philosophy. The quality improvement model of the Deming system of profound knowledge consists of four parts that are related.

They include appreciation for the overall organizational system, theory of knowledge, knowledge about variation, and psychology.  Thus, the management needs first to understand the unique attributes of different individuals.

According to Deming, process designs define employee performance. Therefore, management needs first to learn the psychology of their subordinates and the psychology of change in order to be effective leaders of quality transformation (Oakland, 2003).

The administration also needs a proper understanding of variation, including appreciating the common causes of variation and appreciating a stable quality improvement system as part of their knowledge of people management and management of a system.

Walter A. Shewhart’s “Obstacles to Success” Model of Quality Management

Walter Shewhart believed that it was more important for organizations to be proactive in managing business process variation defects before they could negatively affect their business operations/models. In this regard, Walter Shewhart believed that inspection for business process defects should always come before production instead of after the production process is complete (Shewhart, 1980).

This way, organizations stood a much better chance of monitoring non-conforming items via business process control charts, which Shewhart invented in 1924. According to Shewhart, organizations could detect these process variations through Statistical Process Control (SPC) Charts (Shewhart, 1980).

The Statistical Process Control Chart of Walter Stewart’s Obstacles to Success Model of Quality Management

The core principle of Statistical Process Control is to understand and manage process variation. The long-term objective of this process was to manage variations to allow organizations to meet customer requirements. Shewhart argued that the critical elements of achieving statistical process control objectives included;

  • Providing quality control systems
  • Providing guidelines for continuous quality improvement
  • Evaluating quality management capability

Proceed to part 2 “The Application of Six Sigma Methodology in Total Quality Management. A Case Study of Amazon”


Information in an Industrial Culture: Walter A. Shewhart and the Evolution of the Control Chart, 1917–1954

Karapetrovic, S., & Jonker, J. (2003). Integration of standardized management systems: searching for a recipe and ingredients. Total Quality Management and Business Excellence, 14(4), 451-459

Mukherjee P.N. (2006). Total Quality Management. New Delhi: Prentice Hall

Oakland, J. S. (2003). Total Quality Management: Text with Cases (Vol. 3rd ed). Oxford: Taylor & Francis

Poornima M. (2009). Total Quality Management. Dorlin Kindersley, India: Pearson Education.