The interest in total quality management (TQM) has increased rapidly in recent years. Some people see TQM as something necessary to reach competitiveness but others claim TQM to be merely a management fad. We believe that there are several reasons for the different opinions about TQM. One is that the gurus, who often are seen as fathers of TQM, do not like the concept. Another one is that there are several similar names for roughly the same idea. A third one, which, maybe, is the most severe, is that there are many vague descriptions and few definitions of what TQM really is. In this paper we will discuss some of the problems with TQM and describe and discuss our own view of TQM as a management system consisting of the three interdependent components: values, techniques and tools. We strongly believe that this definition will help to understand and implement TQM.
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