Perhaps a better way of understanding TQM is to compare a "TQM organization with what we might call a "traditional
organizations". Let's look at a number of differences.  

Customer-Driven vs. Company-Driven  
Traditional organizations tend to make their decisions
based on what is most convenient for them, rather than
what is wanted and expected by their customers. Being
customer-based means gatf7ering information from
customers/clients and modifying services and processes
to meet those needs as well as possible. In government,
this is not always easy, due to the conflicting responsibilities
of a department, and the multiple customers/stakeholders
involved in government situations. However, in many cases
moving to a customer-driven organization can yield many
positive results for government departments.  

Long-Term vs. Short-Term Orientation  
Traditional organizations tend to think and plan with respect to short term outcomes, white TQM organizations tend to think in
much larger time spans. A typical example might be that a TQM organization would look at downsizing as having effects over a
decade or two, while a traditional organization would look only at the immediate budgetary issues, letting future chips fall where
they may.  

Also, successful TQM organizations make a long term commitment to the principles of TQM, rather than looking at TQM as a
program; something with a beginning and end. This means patience.  

Data-Driven vs. Opinion-Driven  
Traditional organizations tend to be managed by gut feel, or by opinion. They guess at what their customers want, and guess at
the costs of waste, etc. TQM organizations base their decisions on data they collect; on customer needs, on waste, on costs,
and on the sources of problems. While judgment is always involved in any decision, TQM organizations begin with the data, not
with the solution.  

Elimination of Waste vs. Tolerance of Waste  
Most organizations operate with a high degree of waste and inefficiency. Traditional organizations consider waste, whether it be
in time, materials, etc, as a normal part of their operation. TQM organizations are very active in identifying wasteful activities,
and eliminating them.  

Continuous Improvement vs, Fire Fighting  
Traditional organizations tend to address problems with the way they do things only when there is a major problem or crisis.
The watchword in traditional organizations is: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", except that often it IS broke, but nobody is paying  

Prevention vs, Inspection  
Traditional organizations tend to fix problems after the fact. Rather than trying to prevent problems, they catch them after the
fact, which is very costly. TQM organizations work to prevent problems and errors, rather than simply fixing them.  

Cross-Function Teams vs. Fortressed Departments  
Traditional organizations tend to have sub-units that work autonomously and with little communication or involvement with other
units. For example, personnel may have only limited interaction with other departments. Or, on a local level, administrative staff
may have little communication with other staff in a government branch, and have a different reporting structure.  

In TQM organizations, there is more use of cross-functional teams; teams convened for a particular purpose or purposes, with
representation from a number of units or levels in the organization. The use of cross-functional teams means that input is
gained from parts of the organization that need to be involved.  

High Employee Participation vs. Top-Down Hierarchy  
Traditional organizations tend to have very restricted communication and decision- making patterns. Employees are told what
to do, rather than being inctuded in figuring out what to do. Information tends to flow from top to bottom.  In TQM organizations,
employees are much more actively involved in both the decision-making and communication processes. Information flows both
top to bottom and bottom to top. For that matter, information also flows sideways.  

9. Problem-Solving vs, Blame  
Traditional organizations tend to look to affix blame for things that go wrong. TQM organizations attack the problems in their
organizations rather than the people. They fix things.  

10. Systems Thinking Vs. Isolation  
Traditiona~ organizations tend to see the parts and processes of their organization as single things, unretated to other part of
the organization. TQM organizations tend to recognize that most often, probtems arise as a result of multiple causes, and that
sub- units are interdependent. TQM organizations tend to see problems as a result of the entire system.  

11. Leadership vs. Management  
Traditional organizations tend to see people as objects to be managed; told what to do, disciplined, tracked, etc. TQM
organizations exhibit more confidence in staff and more trust, and expect MORE from them, not less.  

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