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Quality is ultimately about process control, to achieve process excellence - efficiently and effectively producing the expected result. This includes processes of all types -- production, management, strategic, operational -- for all types of organizations.

Quality Management

The preeminent quality management techniques and approaches are --

  • Lean -- Lean first of all is a philosophy on how to create ever increasing value while eliminating waste in the processes of the company. Kaizen is a form of a rapid Shewhart cycle (plan-do-check-act) associated with lean. The Toyota Manufacturing System is the quintessential lean system.
  • Six-sigma -- is a methodology to manage process variations. This methodology also is also based in a Shewhart cycle. It is more analytical than lean. It is associated with achieving defect rates in the low parts per million. It was invented by Motorola and popularized by Jack Welch and GE. See six-sigma.
  • Baldrige -- Baldrige is a comprehensive program of process assessment and improvement for every process of the business organization. It goes beyond ISO 9000 to serve as a mechanism for delivery of ever improving value to customers, success in the marketplace, overall organizational effectiveness and capabilities, organizational learning, and personal learning. Baldrige explicitly addresses all processes following the structure of the Baldrige criteria framework with its six categories of processes and business results assessment.
  • ISO 9000 -- a family of standards for quality management systems. ISO 9000 is maintained by ISO, the International Organization for Standardization and is administered by accreditation and certification bodies. For a manufacturer, some of the requirements in ISO 9001 (which is one of the standards in the ISO 9000 family) would include:
    • a set of procedures that cover all key processes in the business;
    • monitoring manufacturing processes to ensure they are producing quality product;
    • keeping proper records;
    • checking outgoing product for defects, with appropriate corrective action where necessary;
    • regularly reviewing individual processes and the quality system itself for effectiveness; and
    • facilitating continual improvement
    A company or organization that has been independently audited and certified to be in conformance with ISO 9001 may publicly state that it is ""ISO 9001 certified"" or ""ISO 9001 registered."" Certification to an ISO 9000 standard does not guarantee the compliance (and therefore the quality) of end products and services; rather, it certifies that consistent business processes are being applied.
    Source: Wikipedia contributors, ""ISO 9000,"" Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=ISO_9000&oldid=135029780 (accessed June 1, 2007).
  • Balanced Scorecard -- The balanced scorecard aligns the members and other resources of the business organization to the strategy. The balanced scorecard, including strategy maping, is a technique to explicitly represent the strategy, the strategic objectives, the performance the objectives anticipate, and the initiatives requires to achieve that performance. It has been developed by Robert Kaplan and David Norton.

TQM, or Total Quality Management, often refers to one of these approaches to quality, when they are taken on as or as part of a comprehensive program to center the whole organization on quality.

Quality vs. Strategy -- as with all generalized characterizations, these leave a lot of room for disagreement, but the do speak some revealing truth.

  • Quality is about doing things right
  • Strategy is about doing the right things
  • Strategic management includes both -- Strategy formation is about determining the right things to do. Strategy execution is about doing the strategy right.