The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘Quality’ as – “The standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something.” As human beings, we always strive for and like good things in life, unfortunately not all things are good.
How and what we look for in terms of quality differs in the areas that we are looking for it in. Achieving our KPIs and KRAs at work is dependent, not only on what is defined, but on the quality that we bring to our work. After we leave for the day, we are an individual, a family member and a person in society, and as an individual we look at our quality of health – to maintain this, we consider jogging, or take up some form of exercise to maintain health. As a family member, we focus on quality of education and the upbringing of our kids or younger siblings. As a society member, we talk about safety and quality of life and infrastructure.
Society has rules and norms for us to follow, which uphold these requirements to ensure a decent quality of life. During any program on quality, the first slide always talks about dos, don’ts and rules and regulations to maintain quality. However, as soon as people leave the comfort of their homes or offices, they follow rules only to avoid some sort of punishment, e.g. wearing helmets on two wheelers only so that paying hefty fines can be avoided. Why is this? Why are we so different when working in an organization and when being on our own outside the organization? Despite being the same person, we behave differently.
TQM stands for ‘Total Quality Management’ which is a structured approach to overall organizational management. The goal of this method is to ensure continuous improvement in the organization’s processes. It is a management approach to long-term success through customer satisfaction. It can be summarized as a management system for a customer-focused organization that involves all employees in a continual improvement.
Taking the example of an automotive company, they are very good at the TQM approach, but once the car leaves the plant and is on the road, the social safety standards are very low.
This calls for a change in the approach, an evolution from TQM to SQM, i.e. Social Quality Management to improve our quality standards within the society as responsible citizens. The approach to SQM is the same as it is to TQM but with a slight tweak. Just as we perform as a professional and work for TQM, as citizens we must work collectively as individuals to ensure SQM. This can be done by looking at different aspects of life, e.g. As an individual can I influence 4 others and promote quality of health. As a family member, I will ensure and influence quality of education and quality of upbringing and as a citizen of the society, I will influence people in my social circle to follow safe rules such as – driving safely and responsibly, wearing helmets, use zebra crossing, etc. These small steps will ensure the world to be a better place that is teeming with quality of life all around.
To conclude, let us as individuals bring about a change in our overall social construct by travelling the journey of TQM to SQM.
The Author of this article, Mr. Rakesh Singh is the Chief Operation Officer at Mahindra Susten, the clean-tech arm of the $20.7billion Mahindra Group. The above topic is an excerpt from his keynote address at ‘33rd Chapter Convention on Quality Concepts (CCQC – 2019)’ that was held on 21st & 22nd September 2019. The theme of the convention was “Quality Concepts for Cultural Breakthrough”.