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Successful businesses inevitably place great emphasis on managing quality control. Businesses emphasize quality control to ensure that the products or services offered to their customers are consistent and reliable and will meet their customer’s needs or specifications. Quality can separate a company from its competitors resulting in additional revenue due to higher sales volumes and/or higher margins. The purpose of this document is to introduce the reader to the history of quality management systems and processes as well as discuss the Fork Model theory of quality management.

            Quality personnel and departments are common place in today’s businesses regardless of the products or services they provide. There are numerous standards for certain industries most of which are defined and managed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). While inspection of products and services dates back several centuries ago, standardized quality methods and organizations is a new trend which has been recognized as vital to business objectives just in the last hundred years. Below is a brief outline of the history of quality management systems.

In the beginning

  • During the early days of manufacturing, an operative’s work was inspected and a decision made whether to accept or reject it
  • As businesses became larger, so too did this role and full time inspection jobs were created.

Problems that arose

  • More technical problems occurred, requiring specialized skills, often not possessed by production workers
  • The inspectors lacked training
  • Inspectors were ordered to accept defective goods, to increase output
  • Skilled workers were promoted into other roles, leaving less skilled workers to perform the operational jobs, such as manufacturing

Quality Management Movement

  • New separate department dedicated to inspection was created. This was the birth of the quality department.
  • In the 1920’s statistical theory began to be applied effectively to quality control
  • The early work of Shewhart, Deming, Dodge and Romig constitutes much of what today comprises the theory of statistical process control (SPC)
  • In an attempt to improve the nation’s products and reputation in the 1950’s Japan begin to implement the quality theories and process of Deming and others.
  • As a result Japans exports rose significantly.
  • The Western world was late to adopt quality management principles.
  • In the early 1980’s Western countries begin developing their own quality systems in order to be competitive with Japan.

In order to implement a quality management system within a company it is important to understand what motives a company to attempt such a drastic change. While the motivation may be different between companies most of the goals are similar. Below is a list of motivators for companies.

  1. Exceed customer requirements
  2. Improve the organization’s image.
  3. Increase market size.
  4. Improve employee morale.
  5. Create a common mission

 Motivation to change alone will not ensure that a quality management system will succeed. It is important to understand what the potential roadblocks are and where the change needs to originate in order to be successful. Listed below are some general road blocks that a company can look out for during the implementation stage.

  • Potential roadblocks to developing a quality system.
    • Lack of top management commitment.
    • Inability to change the mind set (paradigms) of top management.
    • Inability to maintain momentum for the transformation.
    • Lack of uniform management style.
    • Lack of long-term corporate direction.
    • Inability to change the culture of the organization.
    • Lack of financial and human resources.
    • Lack of training and education.

 The Handle; or Transformation

            The handle is management’s commitment to transformation, without which there can be no transformation. Top management generates and directs the energy necessary to transform an organization. Top managers will expend this energy if they are confronted with a crisis or if they have a vision that they want to pursue. Top management creates and directs the energy necessary to transform an organization.

There are only two known sources for this energy, a crisis or a vision. Top management can uncover and bring to the forefront the real or potential crises that face an organization. One method top management can use to create a crisis is asking a probing question, such as, “What are the quality requirements of our major product/service demanded by our major customers?”

Frequently, top management is unable to answer this question. This may create a crisis for top managers, if they realize that they are out of touch with their customers’ needs. Another method by which top management can create a crisis is by conducting a brainstorming session on the crises that face their organization and analyzing the results with an affinity diagram. Top management initiates action for the transformation via a crisis and/or a vision. Top management studies, synthesizes and digests the crises facing the organization, as well as formulates and articulates the vision of the organization. If they feel it is warranted, they communicate the information about the crises and/or vision to relevant stakeholders’. This process promotes commitment to the transformation among top management and stakeholders.

The Neck; or Management’s Education

Once the top management of an organization commits to transformation, its members enter a period of education and self-improvement, or ‘’the neck’’ of the detailed fork model for quality management. In this part of the Fork Model for quality management, we are going to explain what top management needs to do to promote and coordinate its education and self-improvement with respect to the organizational transformation.

Management’s Fears Concerning Education and Self-Improvement

Top managers who have decided to become involved in these processes look forward to and fear from education and self-improvement. They are anxious to learn about themselves and the improvement process, but they also have concerns. Some questions they may be pondering are:

  • Will I look stupid?
  • Will I ‘’get it’’?
  • Will I be able to do it?
  • Will I be exposed as incompetent?

These fears and questions are a natural reaction to the task that lies ahead for top management. Education and self-improvement are difficult, soul-searching activities that have a profound effect on the individual and the organization. It takes courage and strength of character to involve oneself in these processes.

Education and Self-Improvement Group

One of the first tasks to involve in education and self-Improvement is forming one or more education, training, and self-improvement groups. The aim of each group is to expand and deepen its understanding of Deming’s theory of management. A group contains between three and six members, and meets frequently. The areas of concentration are studying the System of Profound Knowledge, and identifying and resolving personal barriers to transformation. The purpose of these areas of concentration is to transform an individual’s or organization’s decision-making process from producing ‘’lose-lose’’ or ‘’win-lose’’ decisions to generating ‘’win-win’’ decisions.

Studying the System of profound Knowledge

The System of Profound Knowledge is discussed by the group, under the tutelage of an expert who creates an environment in which group members deepen their understanding of how the System of Profound Knowledge might affect organizational and personal decision-making. The expert may use group meetings, role-playing, case studies, or working shops to generate the individualized feedback necessary for each top manager so that she can transform personally, and consequently, promote the translation of the organization.

The purpose of this type of session is not to ‘’mess with’’ anybody’s personal beliefs and values, but rather to make them aware of an alternative system of beliefs, the System of Profound Knowledge, and its potential impact on them and their decision-making processes.

Establishing Life-Long Programs for education and self-Improvement

The period of Education and self-improvement should be extended indefinitely into the future. An outside consultant may be instrumental in developing an individualized plan of study for each member of the executive committee.

Identifying and Resolving Personal Barriers to Transformation

Each member of the executive committee should identify and resolve any issues that create barriers to the transformation. Some people beliefs can be barriers to transformation.

Each member of the executive committee examines his or her own opinion on others that would impede the transformation. The QM expert can use some questionnaire to pinpoint problem area that individuals may be experiencing.

By using and list managerial traits that have been placed on a number scale, such as (0-10) scale, the manager can identify the barriers. S/He can study the skills beside employee’s opinions about each other. Also, the scale contains answers that not yes any answers. A QM expert can use a manager’s scores on these questions to pinpoint the elements of the System of Profound Knowledge that a manager is having difficulty internalizing.

After identifying the specific areas in need of attention, the expert and individual manager meet to discuss why holding a particular belief is detrimental to transformation. In-depth, private sessions may be necessary to understand the ‘’whys’’ and ‘’ramifications’’ of and ‘’alternatives’’ to the above beliefs. The behaviors that these beliefs promote are also discussed, and ways of changing both attitudes and behaviors are suggested.

The Quality Management Leader

Top management’s education and self-improvement include group and study of the System of Profound Knowledge and identification and resolution of personal barriers to transformation. Guided by an expert, the quality management leader will develop a management style to incorporate the attributes necessary to lead the organization. The quality management leader should possess the following characteristics:

  • A leader sees the organization as a system of interrelated components, each with an aim, but all focused collectively to support the aim of the system of interdependent stakeholders. This type of focus may require sub-optimization of some components of the system.
  • A leader tries to create for everybody interest and challenge, joy in work, and pride in the outcome. She tries to optimize the education, skills, and abilities of everyone, and helps everyone to improve. Improvement and innovation are the aim.
  • A leader coaches and trains, and does not judge and punish. A leader is an active listener and does not pass judgment on those to whom s/he listens.
  • A leader has formal power, power from knowledge, and power from personality. A leader develops and utilizes the power from knowledge and personality when operating in an existing paradigm of management. However, a leader may have to resort to the use of formal power when shifting from one paradigm of management to another.
  • A leader uses plots of points and statistical calculation with knowledge of variation to try to understand both the leader’s performance and that of her people.
  • A leader understands the benefits of cooperation and the losses from competition.
  • A leader does not expect perfection.
  • A leader understands that experience without theory does not facilitate prediction of future events. A leader has a theory to predict how an individual will perform in a new job.
  • A leader is able to predict the future to plan the actions necessary to pursue the organization’s aim.

A manager who does not possess the above attributes will have problems with the transformation.

Daily Management (Prong #1)

This chapter is mainly about what is required to develop, maintain, improve, standardize, deploy and innovate the methods required for daily work in all areas of an organization. The daily work is managed through daily management. When top management is ready to begin the organizational transformation, it needs concrete ways of translating theory into practice. Daily management is one of the vehicles used to accomplish this task.

Selecting Initial Project Teams                                                

The members of the executive committee (EC) select initial process improvement leaders (PILs) in departments of the organization. PILs can be assigned full time or part time. The decision to have only full time PILs, only part time PILs, or both types of PILs depends on the needs of project teams.

Early in a transformation, an organization may need a greater proportion of full time PILs, as the transformation proceeds, a smaller proportion of full time PILs may suffice. The change in the need for full time PILs is generally due to an increase in the general level of quality knowledge in the organization and consequently a decrease in the need for the aid provided to project teams by full time PILs.

Performing Daily Management

After training, each initial project team works on one or more methods through daily management. The daily management or prong 1 of the detailed fork model, is developing, deploying, maintaining, improving, and innovating the methods required for daily work. The development, standardization, and deployment of methods for daily work is called housekeeping.

The housekeeping is practiced through the SDSA cycle and its four stages. The standardize stage involves teaching employees how to study and understand the causal factors that affect each critical method they work with by using flowcharts. Employees can also use other tools to understand the causal systems that affect their methods, such as cause and effect diagrams, interrelationship diagraphs, and simulations. The housekeeping functions are developed through a procedure called function deployment. This is the way employees determine what functions are required to perform each method they use in their daily work. The housekeeping is accomplished by employing the SDSA cycle. The objective is to determine the best practice method for each function.

           After the best practice method has been developed and deployed by a project team, housekeeping activities give way to daily management activities. Daily management is used to reduce process variation and to center the process on the customer’s requirements. The PDSA cycle is used in daily management in a continuous progression of never ending improvement.

Project teams present their housekeeping and daily management projects to managers for approval in management reviews. This is the process that involves comparing actual results with established targets. It is critical that management reviews take into account common and special causes of variation. If a management review is done properly, there is no place for tampering with the process or blaming employees for problems out of their control.

Empowering employees through daily management has as its aim, in a quality management sense, to increase joy in work. It is operationalized at two levels. First, employees are empowered to develop and document these practice methods using the SDSA cycle. Second, they are empowered to improve and innovate best practice methods through the continuous applications of the PDSA cycle.

As the initial process improvement teams begin to show positive results, and more teams are formed by area or department managers, a structure coordinates the teams at the department level. This structure is called the local steering team.

Cross-Functional Management (Prong #2)

Cross-Functional Management promotes the reorganization of corporate management systems to improve interdepartmental communication and cooperation, and provides clear lines of responsibility for that reorganization. The primary areas for the application of Cross-Functional Management include:

  • quality management (quality control and quality improvement)
  • cost management (profit management, expense management, and cost reduction)
  • delivery management (production quantity management, delivery date management, STGT system management)
  • personnel management (human development, education, and work morale enhancement)
  • Quality and cost are usually the first areas to receive attention in Cross-Functional Management.

The auxiliary areas for the application of Cross-Functional Management include:

  • new product development (R and D, technology development, and production technology)
  • sales management (marketing, sales activity management, and sales expansion)
  • safety management (safety/hygiene control, labor safety control, and environmental control)
  • QC promotional support (QC circle standardization)

Primary cross-functional areas are permanent. Auxiliary cross-functional areas change according to current and expected conditions. The following steps are used to implement Cross-Functional Management:

  1. Clarify the purpose (aim) of the Cross-Functional Management effort.
  2. Prepare a list of the divisions or departments that will participate in the proposed cross-functional team.
  3. Construct an integrated flowchart of the proposed process.

Policy Management (Prong #3)

The purpose of this chapter is to explain what is required to set policy, deploy policy, implement policy, study policy, provide feedback to employees on policy, and conduct presidential review of policy in an organization. Policy Management is Prong Three of the quality management model.

Policy Management is performed by turning the PDSA cycle to improve and innovate the methods responsible for the difference between corporate results and corporate targets or to change the direction of an organization. Corporate targets are set to allocate resources between corporate methods. Policy Management assumes that Daily Management and Cross-Functional Management are at work in the organization. Once the initial Presidential Review is complete, the President has information critical to setting policy.

  • Policy Management involves:
    • establishing statements of vision and mission;
    • developing organizational values and beliefs;
    • identifying organizational and environmental factors that affect policy;
    • identifying crises facing the organization;
    • determining key organizational processes that effect stakeholders;
    • identifying technological issues facing the organization;
    • establishing strategic objectives;
    • Developing set of integrated improvement plans for the departments.


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