Comparison and Contrast of Total Quality Management, Open Book Management, Continuous Improvement, and Change Management

By: Eduardo R. Zayas-Quiñones

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Total Quality Management (TQM) is an organizational tool that centers on customer satisfaction, involvement of employees and process improvement for the purpose of improving quality of service (Krajewski et. al., 2001). Through involvement of employees, TQM enables the use of core competencies, field experience and critical thinking to improve processes in the organization. One tool in particular "brainstorming" is used to enable critical thinking and flow of new ideas from employees in an organized and highly productive fashion. The end goal is improving the quality of services provided for customers with a desired result of increased customer satisfaction.

Open Book Management (OBM) is a workplace philosophy that embraces the concepts of employee empowerment through ownership. This was an amazing discovery for me since it is a philosophy I have practiced for at least ten years. Through this management style, I enable empowerment of employees (enable because I think is naturally there) to make decisions as a partnership. We can contrast this philosophy with TQM's employee involvement and clearly see that in both, employees are empowered to decide how processes will be improved in the organization. One interesting thing about empowerment, which some take for granted is that along with it comes responsibility and accountability. One more thing about Open Book Management worth mentioning is that you can't just open certain pages in a book - all pages are open. This means that employees will have access to company financial statements, operating budgets and everything else you could possibly think about. Risky? Perhaps. Worth trying? Absolutely!

Continuous Improvement in my view is the timing belt that drives TQM, OBM and Change Management engines. Perhaps it should be referred as "perpetual". This is the way processes and work ethics in an organization should be viewed not just as beginning to absolute end life cycle management but as a never ending loop where employees collectively and actively find better ways of doing things, where processes constantly evolve and mature and ... beyond. In order for TQM, OBM or Change Management to be successful, the processes and tools must be at work perpetually.

Change Management is the orderly and systematic process of keeping track of changes, documenting and analyzing the results of such change. For example, configuration management is a critical application or tool in Information Technology (IT) through which an organization keeps track of detailed information about all IT resources. Why is it important to the organization? Suppose I have 200 file servers in my organization and decide that installation of a new application is critical to the success of my company. The application runs on NT 4 Operating System platforms, requires 512 Megabytes of memory and 20 Gigabytes of Free disk space - can the application be installed? Hmmm, let's see - how could I find out? Well, hopefully someone has been keeping track of this information in a database (a configuration management database) and every time someone has added memory or upgraded the operating system, they have made entries to update the information for the affected server. In this case, I could just walk over to the operations manager desk and ask, expecting a quick response. What if nobody kept track? Can you imagine the amount of work required to find out? This is just one example of how configuration management or change management can help us make better decisions.

References:

Krajewski, L. J. & Ritzman, L. P. (2002) Operations Management: Strategy and Analysis, 5th edition

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