Sustaining quality: Underlying causes for failure

March 1, 2013

A question that regularly arises is how to sustain quality management or to put it another way, what are the reasons for quality management failing?  There have been two significant studies on this issue and their findings cited the following obstacles.

Lack of leadership for quality

Lack of planning for quality

Inadequate resources for quality

Inadequate human resources development and management

Lack of customer focus

Ultimately it was found that the failure of quality management, 'can be attributed to a gap between top management rhetoric about their intentions for TQM and the reality of implementation.' 

In other words like any other project, initiative or issue of importance in business it is the dedication and focus on its support that ensures its continuation. Think of this, we don’t stop, close or end accounting, marketing or human resources, why quality then? Because we don’t have the legal requirements to have it and so we can quite simply end it. It is ended because it is not valued despite its significant impact proven by multiple studies which are overlooked because the ‘Git R Done’ approach takes less hassle.   

View this list of studies for evidence of the financial and performance impact of Quality Management.


Understanding the Obstacles of Quality by Sebastianelli & Tamimi, Quality Management Journal, 2003

Why TQM Programs do not Persist by Michael Beer, Decision Science, 2003 

Denis Leonard has a degree in construction engineering an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in quality management. Denis is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality, a Certified Quality Manager, Auditor, and Six Sigma Black Belt. He has been an Examiner for the Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners a Judge on the International Team Excellence Competition and a Lead Judge on the National Housing Quality Award. A former Professor of Quality at the University of Wisconsin, he has experience as a quality manager in the home building industry as well as construction engineer, site manager, and in training, auditing, and consulting with expertise in strategic and operational quality improvement initiatives. His work has achieved national quality, environmental, and safety management awards for clients. 

Denis is co-author of The Executive Guide to Understanding and Implementing the Baldrige Criteria: Improve Revenue and Create Organizational Excellence.


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