Total Quality Is...
The Ten Tenets of Quality
Technical capability and production efficiency, while necessary, are no longer the principal
competitive determinants sufficent for success. What differentiates the successful from the
unsuccessful organization, today, is superior quot;world-classquot; systems of work processes that men and
women throughout the organization understand, believe in and are a part of. These systems of clear
work processes reduce bureaucracy and cycle times, increase responsiveness and innovation, and
lower costs thereby assuring product, market and organizational success. This is Total Quality
1. Quality is an organization-wide process
Quality is not a specialist function, a department, nor an awareness or testing program alone. It is a
disciplined system of customer-connected work processes implemented throughout the organization
and integrated with suppliers. High quality products are the result of high quality work processes.
After all, if you do not improve the process, you cannot expect substantial improvement in results.
2. Quality is what the customer says it is
It is not what a developer, manager or marketeer says it is. If you want to find out about your
quality, ask your customer. No one can compress in a market research statistic or defect rate the
extent of buyer frustration or buyer delight.
3. Quality and cost are a sum, not a difference
They are partners, not adversaries. The quality costs of fixing failures are high compared to quality
costs required to properly prevent and assure no such defects. True quality leaders are cost leaders,
with 10-20% competitive cost advantages common.
4. Quality requires both individual and teamwork zealotry
Quality is everybody's job, but it will become nobody's job without a clear infrastructure that supports
both the quality work of individuals and the teamwork among individuals and departments. Too often
quality improvement activities become islands without bridges. All the left hands must work
effectively with all the right hands.
5. Quality is a way of managing
Good management today means empowering the quality knowledge, skills and attitudes of everyone
in the organization to recognize that making quality right makes everything else in the organization
right. The belief that quality travels under some exclusive national passport, or has some unique
geographical or cultural identity, is a myth.
6. Quality and innovation are mutually dependent
Quality requires product and process innovation, and the key to successful new products is to make
quality the partner of development from the beginning -- not a sweep-up-after mechanism for
problems. It is essential to fully include the customer in all phases of development. Paper studies
cannot do the job.
7. Quality is an ethic
The pursuit of excellence, deep recognition that what you are doing is right, is the strongest human
emotional motivator in any organization and is the basic driver in true quality leadership. Quality
programs relying solely on cold metrics are never enough.
8. Quality requires continuous improvement
Quality is a constantly upward moving target and continuous improvement is an in-line, integral
component of everyone's job responsibilities -- not a separate activity. This requires more than just
quot;better-than-last-yearquot; internal incremental improvement. The marketplace determines what is world-
9. Quality is the most cost-effective, least capital-intensive route
Some of the world's strongest organizations have blindsided their competition by concentrating on
eliminating their hidden plant or organization; the part that exists to find and fix mistakes and the
associated waste. They have done it by changing their productivity concept from the four-letter word,
M-O-R-E, by adding the quality leadership four-letter word, G-O-O-D, to create the quot;more good
quality productivityquot; concept.
10. Quality is implemented with a total system connected with
customers and suppliers
This is what makes quality leadership real in an organization -- the relentless application of the
systematic method that makes it possible for an organization to manage its quality and associated
costs. These ten basic benchmarks underpinning the technology of Total Quality Management make
quality a way of totally focusing the organization on the competitive discipline of serving the
customer -- whether it be the end user or the man and woman at the next desk or workstation. They
make quality the organization's way of simultaneously achieving market success, employee
satisfaction and cost leadership. Perhaps most importantly, they provide the basis for managing the
inevitable growth that will result from this strategy in a consistently high quality manner, replicating
success after success.
Dr. Feigenbaum is the originator of Total Quality Control (TQC), the management approach that has
profoundly influenced the competition for domestic and international markets in the United States,
Japan and throughout the industrialized world (see Total Quality Control, 40th Anniversary Edition,
McGraw-Hill, 1991). He introduced the concept of quot;Total Quality Management quot; in the 1983 McGraw-
Hill edition of that book. He was also the first to define quot;Total Quality Costsquot; in a 1956 Harvard
Business Review article entitled, Total Quality Control.
Dr. Feigenbaum is President and CEO of General Systems Company, Inc., a Pittsfield, Massachusetts,
based international engineering firm which custom designs and implements Total Quality
Management systems in major firms throughout the world. Prior to co-founding General Systems with
Donald S. Feigenbaum in 1968, he was worldwide director of manufacturing operations and quality at
General Electric. A more complete biography may be found in Who's Who in America and Who's Who
in the World.