History Of Quality Management As It Relates To The US Air Force.
The Total Quality Management (TQM) philosophy and program is now integrated with the strategic objectives of most organizations as a result of intense global competition and pressure to control costs. …
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TQM is an approach that can enhance the competitiveness, effectiveness and flexibility of a whole organization that requires planning, organizing and understanding each activity (O’Neill & Sohal, 1999). TQM has been applied to all industries with the focus on quality improvement or achieving overall customer satisfaction. TQM in the US Air Force has its own significance and has been in practice for several decades. As the Federal government realized the need for a smaller military force due to decreasing military threat from the former Soviet Union, the financial support to the military was reduced (Sanchez, 1997). This necessitated the reduction in the size of personnel from each service as well as eliminating many weapon systems. With the reduced number of airmen, seamen and soldiers the need for efficiency became paramount (Moser & Bailey, 1997). TQM training was instituted in all branches of the armed forces and extended to the US defense industries as well. This paper researches how the application and utility of TQM has evolved and whether it has been able to enhance efficiency in the US Air Force.TQM has further been defined as a process of continuous improvement (Gonsalves, 2002) where continued effort is exerted by everyone in the organization to understand, meet and exceed customer expectations through quality enhancement (Hoang, 2009) where quality includes characteristics such as performance, features, durability, aesthetics and service quality (Lian, 2001). Ho, Duffy and Shih (1999) emphasize that continuous improvement, customer focus, and teamwork form the core of TQM philosophy. TQM is a holistic concept wherein all members of the organization participate in planning and implementing continuous quality improvement (Sanchez, 1997). Deming stated that to achieve success through TQM the managers must whole-heartedly believe in the philosophy and create an environment for the process to function (D’Ron, 1998). Deming also offered suggestions for the managers to change their traditional mindset which included leadership, training, breaking down the barriers, not focusing on price alone, eliminating quotas and most importantly they should adopt the TQM principles. The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA) was established by Congress in 1987 to stimulate competition in the US businesses. This is a prestigious award for excellence and quality achievement in the United States. This award was meant to recognize organizations that have outstanding processes and practices, and that focus on continuous improvement and where the practice is measureable. The MBNQA is basically a business review, a formal process to review how the business operates. Its implementation requires visionary leadership, social responsibility, focus on future, focus on results, managing for innovation and valuing employees and other stakeholders (Baldridge Award, 2005). The award is given to organizations that demonstrate exemplary achievements across seven dimensions - leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, measurement, analysis and knowledge management, human resources focus, process management, and business results.
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