Is TQM Enough For Competitive Advantage? LO22651

J.C. Lelie (
Tue, 14 Sep 1999 17:29:46 +0200

Replying to LO22590 --

Hello Jamal,

thank you for your mail. Drawing from my own experinece in Just In Time /
Total Quality Management and the Learning Organization, i would like to

A few years ago we discussed the fact that a foreword or sleeve text
written by Dr Deming for the Fifth Discipline book was left out of the
book, if i remember correctly, by the publisher. So even in his own native
context he was little regarded. And also, as has been pointed out by John
Zavacki, he himself didn't like the name Total Quality Management - or
rather, opposed it.

> Panacea

I used Total Quality Management as a label, a trade name, a flag,
because the managers i worked for liked the combination. For them it was
a panacea, probably because:
Total - they believe there is one system, one best way of running an
organisation, a best method to do business and this best system can be
known as a complete set of rule
Quality - they believe that quality costs money, is another way of
loosing money, so it should be controlled or managed, as in:
Management - the practice of controling behaviour.

When I was asked what I thought TQM stands for, which was not often, i
always said I didn't know. As you know, Deming said that the task of
management was to drive out fear, but that messages was lost to most

> What is key is a change initiative
> that fits the cultural readiness of Saudi organizations, rather than
> importing one developed in a different cultural context and taking it as
> is, unchallenged.

I have problems with this conclusion, probably because i think it is
ambiguous. On the one hand i think, yes, i agree. Readiness, being willing
and able to change is important for a change initiative. The readiness to
start a change initiative starts with accepting the exsisting culture. Not
as in taking for granted, but as in: this was the best culture in an
environment; does the environment still exsists? If, as you say, the
environment of Saudi organisations is changing...

On the other hand, i think no, i disagree. Some change initiatives can not
wait for a changed culture, some(body) change a culture. Perhaps the
challenge is to take initiative, have courage, import an initiative
developed in a different context and apply it, thereby creating a new

Change isn't what it used to be.

Kind regards

Jan Lelie


Drs J.C. Lelie CPIM (Jan) LOGISENS - Sparring Partner in Logistical Development Mind@Work - est. 1998 - Group Decision Process Support Tel.: (+ 31) (0)70 3243475 or car: (+ 31)(0)65 4685114 and/or taoSystems: + 31 (0)30 6377973 -

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