By Glen Dhliwayo
Total Quality Management is a term often used in industry with reference to manufacturing products or service provision. Today we borrow this concept to apply it to your personal life.
Quality is loosely defined as conformance to pre-set standards; or as measure or state of being free from defects, deficiencies and significant variations brought about by the strict and consistent adherence to measurable and verifiable standards.
Why should you be concerned about attaining a high quality level in your life? There is a cost that comes with not conforming to quality requirements.
The reason quality has gained such prominence is that organizations have gained an understanding of the high cost of poor quality. The most obvious consequence occurs when poor quality creates dissatisfied customers and eventually leads to loss of business.
The same analogy can be brought to your personal life. Remember in previous articles we established that you are a brand. In order for your brand to work for you it should be a quality brand that conforms to set standards and the expectations of the organisations and individuals you work with. Failure to create a quality brand will result in high cost.
Total Quality Management is a proactive principle that sets out to achieve certain quality deliverables. Be proactive about your brand too. Don’t be reactive. Proactive people take charge of the process as such they can control and manage the quality of their brand as they create it, while reactive people will react to certain usually undesirable effects of poor quality. Do not wait till you have failed a test or exam in order to start studying. Do not wait until you have missed a chance for promotion or until you are demoted to start improving your work credentials. Be proactive. Take charge of the process!
Now let’s look at how the sub concepts under Total Quality Management can work for you.
In total Quality management quality is defined as meeting or exceeding customer expectations. The goal is to first identify and then meet customer needs. In this case who will be your customer? Your customer is anyone who requires a service or product from you. For example if you are a student the customer expectations you should identify and exceed will be those of teachers and examinations board. This might be a bit difficult to understand but again when ZIMSEC/ ACCA or IMM, for example sets an exam they have expectations of how students should answer. In order to get a quality grade you need to identify their expectations and surpass it.
We tend to think that once we have attained a certain level of success we have arrived and there is no need to continue working. We become complacent and relaxed. The Japanese, who had the largest growing economy for some time before the Chinese, have coined a word called ‘kaizen’. Kaizen means continuous improvement. They use the concept in their industries to continuously better their systems in order to achieve high quality products. Borrow this into your own life. You need to continue to improve yourself so that you continue to appeal to the people that want to work with you. If you neglect your quality it will dip over time and no one will desire to work with you. If you are an athlete to be a quality athlete you must strive to beat your past records. That alone will make you a better athlete. The same applies for any other area of your life. Remember past success is the enemy of present and future success if it is not handled well.
Use of Quality Tools
If employees are to identify and correct quality problems, they need proper training. They need to understand how to assess quality by using a variety of quality control tools, how to interpret findings, and how to correct problems. Industry has its own quality tools that we will not get into but you also need to create and use your own quality tools. Some personal development coaches have also created development templates you can use as quality tools. For starters you could start by using tools such as a personal Roadmap in life which you will detail what you plan to achieve in a certain timeframe and then compare the roadmap with the actual situation in your life. You can also use graphs to track your performance in life. For example you can create a graph for your test and exam marks over time, so when you graph starts dipping you can quickly take remedial action and you will also be able to identify why it happened so that you avoid recurrence.
You can use these and other total quality management tools to improve your life.
The writer is a motivational speaker
He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org