Key readings

Measuring Business Excellence

ISSN: 1368-3047

Article publication date: 1 December 2004


(2004), "Key readings", Measuring Business Excellence, Vol. 8 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Key readings

Key readings

TQM and the Transcendental Meditation programme in a Swedish top management teamSchmidt-Wilk, J., The TQM Magazine (UK), 2003, Vol. 15 No. 5, Start page: 219, No. of pages: 11

Touches on TQM implementation success and failure factors, reflecting that success requires "cognitive stretch." Claims cognitive maturity develops as people progress developmentally, as does their skills, but this needs to be driven. Identifies transcendental meditation (TM) as a discipline that improves cognition. Reports the impact of a power transmission firm's top management team's TM experiences on their TQM initiative over 1989-1993. Provides firm statistics and insights from team interviews held three years after TM started. Gives reasons for taking up TM initially, then describes how attitudes changed from functional conflict and blame – particularly between business units and R&D – to cross-functional co-operation that facilitated their TQM improvement program focusing on delivery times. Concludes that TM's promotion of self-confidence and attitude change, coupled with increased strategic activities that fostered interaction, generated organizational consensus. Supports TM's "holistic thinking" impact on leadership by touching on other experiences in a US food firm and a Swedish public utility.

An evolution of excellence: some main trendsHermel, P. and Ramis-Pujol, J., The TQM Magazine (UK), 2003, Vol. 15 No. 5, Start page: 230, No. of pages: 14

Follows the development of the concept of organizational "excellence," starting with the pre- and early-1980s management schools whose views are brigaded under classical, human relations, sociotechnical, structural/systems, and neo-classical themes. Recounts a step change initiated by "In Search of Excellence" (Peters and Waterman, 1982), "Thriving on Chaos" (Ibid, 1987) and "Le Coút de l'Excellence" (Aubert and de Gaulejac, 1992) – a further "learning organization" wave being initiated by "The Fifth Discipline" (Senge, 1990). Considers this led to a fourth paradigm focusing on excellence models and awards to recognize organizational learning, with a final construct being the current concept of integrated management. Highlights the main thrust and elements within these excellence phases. Deliberates on implementation and maintenance of excellence, continuous improvement, and organizational change and diversity. Wonders whether excellence can truly be tied down because of continual change in the environments organizations have to operate within, and sociotechnical influence on them and their workforces.

The future of TQM is past. Can TQM be resurrected?Rahman, S., Total Quality Management and Business Excellence (UK), June 2004, Vol. 15 No. 4, Start page: 411, No. of pages: 12

Explores whether TQM is relevant to future organizations. Overviews some of the TQM gurus' points and TQM research. Tables studies brigaded under "soft" TQM (dealing with "people" e.g. training, leadership) and "hard" TQM (dealing with "systems," e.g. process management, benchmarking). Lists individual TQM elements for seven different TQM frameworks. Notes studies supporting a view that "soft" TQM is all that is required for organizational performance, but traces TQM's roots back to "hard" statistical process control. Tables characteristics of 20th and 21st century organizations, these leading to both globalization and modularization of corporations and the need for complementarity, and operational, technological, and workforce flexibility. Believes, however, that while resulting short-term contracts and less job security mitigates against "soft" TQM, TQM can still be applied through understanding TQM's boundary conditions. Recommends, therefore, that research rediscovers links between "soft" and "hard" TQM, and explores continuous innovation over continuous improvement.

Is TQM a religion?Watt, B., Quality World (UK), April 2002, Vol. 28 No. 4, Start page: 34, No. of pages: 5

Explores, in this first of two articles, TQM from a religious slant regarding capturing hearts and minds. Points to right attitudes and values being a key ingredient for TQM success. Mentions that some firms are examining their approach to work for deeper meanings. Lists seven elements that characterize world views and religion: Practice and ritual. Emotional and experiential. Narrative and mythic. Doctrinal and philosophical. Ethical and legal. Social and institutional. Material and artistic.

Expands on the first four of these, pointing to various TQM-religion analogies, e.g. TQM tools and techniques; vision and mission terminology, reinforcement of TQM "faith" by narrating and emphasizing positive achievements, identifying "heroes", and rewarding success; "miraculous" company turnarounds; and "you know it makes sense" rationality (continuous improvement, customer satisfaction, business optimization). Intends to analyze the remaining three dimensions in the second article.