The Way Forward and Cultural changes

The Way Forward

Despite the enormous potential benefits of Total Quality a number of organisations have tried to set it in motion but have failed to implement. There are a number of key aspects to developing a way forward for Total Quality.

•Show clear leadership

•Ensure that there is someone within the organisation to champion the way forward

•Recognise that it is a cultural change and that it will take time (two years or more)

•Ensure that everyone is involved

•Use a specialist initially to;

•set up the programme

•facilitate some of the initial meetings

•provide a framework for the overall way forward

The process for the way forward and the related costs will vary according to the size of the organisation. The introduction of Total Quality can best be seen as five related processes.


A process is in place to introduce TQ and there is a TQ "champion". The Business Plan is made available to all.

Examples are set from the top with open and honest communication and a blame free culture is promoted.

Work is undertaken in teams, knowledge is freely shared.

Staff are empowered and becoming self managing, empowered to take decisions, and managing risk.


All are made aware of the cultural changes required.

Short course to teach all the principles of TQ

A significant number of staff are given brief training in tools and techniques.

There is a natural use of tools and techniques wherever a team meets


The Overall Business Plan is in place and all are aware of the Vision, Mission and Goals

Systems based on the Business Plan needs are developed in process flow format.

Draft systems are tested with all - possibly using QITS

Draft systems are developed into full ISO 9000 style procedures.


Methods of measuring, performance are identified.

Performance measurement is started and measures for the cultural change elements identified.

Measurement of the change in culture and other "soft" elements is begun.

Benchmarking is begun.


This is probably the hardest aspect of the TQ process. The key elements of cultural change are identified in the five parallel processes above. The notes below provide further amplification.


There is a need to demonstrate the changes required by example. A champion needs to be clearly identified to drive the programme through. With time as people begin to appreciate the benefits of the new ways of working a clear message will need to be sent that all are expected to behave within the new norms ( "Catch the vision or catch the bus").

Leadership is also required to create the framework of understanding through a vision, mission, annual goals, strategies and plans.

Open Communications

Openness needs to begin at the top. Information as far as is possible needs to be communicated to all team members so that as the decision making process is broadened with empowerment then the information will be available to assist the teams in making the appropriate decisions. All information currently kept under "lock and key" needs to be re-examined as to whether such tight security is necessary.

With the example set from the top then the principle of openness by all needs to be established and appropriate new methods of communication developed. These new methods can include;

•regular team briefings abandoned in favour of informal briefings as issues and new knowledge comes to light

•peer groups meeting to discuss current ideas and share skills

•newsgroup style forums on the organisations computer network

•free access across servers to search for information using search engines

•notes giving reasons added to computer and paper files to raw data is turned in knowledge

•an emergency "hotline" for those seeking advice

•group filing and libraries using a common system

•freedom to express view without it affecting the annual appraisal

As an open policy develops and becomes widely used then knowledge sharing will develop and strengthen the organisation.

Teamworking Environment

Many feel hindered by having to keep the rest of the team informed and having to work within a team. They do not see the advantages in different minds being brought together resolve the way forward. Training and seminars will be required to convince people of the benefits of teamwork using some of the traditional team building games. From an understanding of the power of the team will come the desire to participate. Early facilitated team workshops using a specialist facilitator will provide some quick results to build morale and show the way forward. From this experience team members will learn the art of facilitation themselves so that with some additional limited training teams become self facilitating.

Blame Free

While errors and problems are not desirable there is no advantage to an organisation to have errors and problems hidden. However, traditional management techniques drive staff in this direction as they see potential promotion and bonuses lost because of errors made. A clear message needs to be given, re-given and continuously stressed that people will not be penalised for errors. Instead the aim should be to openly communicate errors to allow everyone to learn and to offer advice on mitigation.

As the blame free culture is allowed to flourish it will assist in the process of understanding and managing risk. This can be developed into a culture of risk assessment and management as a natural part of the decision making process.

Customer First Attitude

Commonly a "product" or service is developed and it is then sold. A customer first attitude sees the integration of the customer into the product development process. Customers need to be seen as stakeholders and treated as a member of the "family". This does not mean an insincere "have a nice day". It means understanding the customers business requirements or needs and adapting to meet those needs. It means allowing customers to communicate at times to suit them. It means not taking customers for granted.

Continuous Improvement

All teams should be encouraged to define measures and targets as part of any deliverable. With measures in place performance can be tracked and the next phase of change addressed. With time comparison with other organisations should become possible through formal or informal benchmarking arrangements.

Recognition should be given as targets achieved and success need to be "celebrated".