Monday, October 22, 2007

Managing Transition in TQM

Steps in Managing the Transition
Beckhard and Pritchard (1992) have outlined the basic steps in managing a transition to a new system such as TQM: identifying tasks to be done, creating necessary management structures, developing strategies for building commitment, designing mechanisms to communicate the change, and assigning resources.
Task identification would include a study of present conditions (assessing current reality, as described above); assessing readiness, such as through a force field analysis; creating a model of the desired state, in this case, implementation of TQM; announcing the change goals to the organization; and assigning responsibilities and resources. This final step would include securing outside consultation and training and assigning someone within the organization to oversee the effort. This should be a responsibility of top management. In fact, the next step, designing transition management structures, is also a responsibility of top management. In fact, Cohen and Brand (1993) and Hyde (1992) assert that management must be heavily involved as leaders rather than relying on a separate staff person or function to shepherd the effort. An organization­wide steering committee to oversee the effort may be appropriate. Developing commitment strategies was discussed above in the sections on resistance and on visionary leadership.
To communicate the change, mechanisms beyond existing processes will need to be developed. Special all­staff meetings attended by executives, sometimes designed as input or dialog sessions, may be used to kick off the process, and TQM newsletters may be an effective ongoing communication tool to keep employees aware of activities and accomplishments.
Management of resources for the change effort is important with TQM, because outside consultants will almost always be required. Choose consultants based on their prior relevant experience and their commitment to adapting the process to fit unique organizational needs. While consultants will be invaluable with initial training of staff and TQM system design, employees (management and others) should be actively involved in TQM implementation, perhaps after receiving training in change management which they can then pass on to other employees. A collaborative relationship with consultants and clear role definitions and specification of activities must be established.
Institutionalization of TQM
Ledford (cited in Packard & Reid, 1990) has proposed a model including four processes which are forces which determine whether a change will persist through the phases of institutionalization. These processes are concerned with congruence among these variables: the change (TQM) with the organization, the change with other changes initiated at the time, the change with environmental demands, and with the level of slack resources in the organization. TQM needs to be congruent with the organization's current culture, and with other changes occurring in the organization. In this period of diminishing resources, organizations are likely to be trying to cope, by downsizing or other methods. In some organizations there are increasing demands for quality or client service improvements. Many such changes are likely to be driven by environmental demands, and TQM may be more likely to be successful than at times of less environmental pressure. Unfortunately, the fourth element, slack resources, is less likely to be present: under current conditions, extra resources (money and staff time) are less likely to be easily available. The challenge is to find a way to make the initial investment outlay to start a process which will pay off in the long term.
Institutionalization may also be enhanced by overlaying another, but compatible, change model: the learning organization (Senge, 1990). This involves, at both the micro and systems levels, staff always learning how to do better and management learning how to be more responsive to staff and the community. Leaders help staff develop their own visions and align these with the organization's vision of quality.
Beckhard and Pritchard (1992) emphasized top management commitment to the change, and Cohen and Brand (1993) apply this specifically to TQM by recommending finding and nurturing a core group which is interested in organizational change. They also emphasize the importance of personal leadership and example: managers need to apply TQM in their daily work and to get people to think about and use the concepts and tools. Ongoing monitoring, and action research to make changes as needed, will be required. And, once again, the systems perspective must be noted: TQM must be built into other systems, particularly those involving planning and rewards. Leaders should expect a long term process, including a transition period. They will need to be persistent, using constant reinforcement, for example, through continuous training. Cohen and Brand suggest that TQM should eventually be made an "invisible" part of the organization, permeating all areas and the responsibility of everyone. TQM may be instituted organization­wide or started in one unit or program and then expanded. Diffusion occurs as TQM is spread from its initial application to other units. Dynamics of resistance mentioned earlier will have to be addressed at this stage.
Some Do's and Don'ts
Following are some miscellaneous do's and don'ts which are based on experiences with TQM in the public sector and the human services. Many are drawn from Cohen and Brand (1993), Hyde (1992), and Chaudron (1992).
First, don't "do TQM": a canned approach is likely to be met with skepticism and ultimately fail because it is not adapted to the uniqueness of a particular organization. TQM is particularly susceptible to this phenomenon, because some adherents adopt almost a religious fervor, (they have been described by one observer as "Deming lemmings" (Reid, 1992). "Deming as demigod" is another way this phenomenon has been described: a statement takes on an added aura when prefaced by "Dr. Deming said..." (Chaudron, 1993). Don't copy any particular model but use relevant basic principles such as an emphasis on quality, continuous analysis of tasks to improve performance, and work with suppliers to enable the organization to start with high quality supplies. TQM should be seen as a process, not a program. It should be integrated into ongoing agency operations, and the focus should be on how an organization can better accomplish its goals and objectives. At the tactical level, don't overemphasize techniques such as statistical process control and the use of charts. Focus instead on the systems ­ the analysis and improvement of processes ­ not on statistics or individual variations.
Whereas some large­scale organizational change efforts are often driven by a centralized steering committee or group of executives, in TQM it may be best to not centralize the effort and establish a separate quality management bureaucracy ("qualiticrats", according to Hyde). Don't believe that top management support is necessary at first, as is axiomatic in organization development. While an organization needn't start TQM at the top, successes in particular units or programs should set the stage for diffusion in other directions. Change from below may be appropriate for those at lower levels who want to initiate TQM. It may work best to start TQM with a temporary task force and then hire trainers, expose staff, and hope that managers will be motivated to learn more. People responsible for leading shouldn't devote full time to TQM; they should maintain their regular work as well. Cohen and Brand believe that TQM is best taught by people doing it day to day in their work. Implement it gradually to ensure meaningful culture change, and use frequent feedback to ensure that change isn't just superficial. There is no need for a "grand plan" (a quality council, etc.); just start where the organization is.
Perhaps the most important "do" worth repeating is to involve employees in the decision making process, at whatever stages and levels possible. As a specific aspect of this, advance negotiations and discussions with any unions present should occur. Create "atmosphere of amnesty" (Cohen & Brand, 1993, 202) so workers and managers feel free to share improvement needs. Tell people what the quality standards are so that inspection and review isn't necessary. Emphasize client feedback and both quantitative and qualitative performance tracking. Make sure quality teams have the necessary tools and resources, such as training, facilitation, and time to meet. In large organizations, regional offices in particular will need lots of support in order to keep the process alive and thriving.
Several suggestions may be offered to managers. First, understand the direct service work of your organization. "Management by walking around" is a useful way to stay in touch with direct service workers and their needs. Practice what you preach: use TQM on your own processes. Meet frequently with middle managers regarding their personal efforts to use TQM. Focus on the nature of the work and try to establish in employees' minds excitement about a new way of working. TQM training will be needed for all involved work groups. Also, horizontal and vertical communication training may be useful to get groups communicating with each other. Team building is a core element of the process, to ensure employee involvement and effective problem solving. Build analysis into the culture: "stop and think about how we work," according to Cohen and Brand. Insist on objective measures of results. Look for visible improvement, but not optimization; and try to generate some quick results in terms of time or money saved. Constantly check with employees to assess their comfort with the process. If people are feeling threatened, slow down. Human resources aspects such as team functioning and analysis must be kept in balance. Prevent or watch for schisms between TQM and human resources functions or other parts of the organization.
In summary, first assess preconditions and the current state of the organization to make sure the need for change is clear and that TQM is an appropriate strategy. Leadership styles and organizational culture must be congruent with TQM. If they are not, this should be worked on or TQM implementation should be avoided or delayed until favorable conditions exist.
Remember that this will be a difficult, comprehensive, and long­term process. Leaders will need to maintain their commitment, keep the process visible, provide necessary support, and hold people accountable for results. Use input from stakeholder (clients, referring agencies, funding sources, etc.) as possible; and, of course, maximize employee involvement in design of the system.
Always keep in mind that TQM should be purpose­driven. Be clear on the organization's vision for the future and stay focused on it. TQM can be a powerful technique for unleashing employee creativity and potential, reducing bureaucracy and costs, and improving service to clients and the community.
Beckhard, R. & Harris, (1987). Organizational Transitions: Managing Complex Change. (2nd ed.) Reading, MA: Addison­Wesley.
Beckhard, R. & Pritchard, W. (1992). Changing the Essence. San Francisco: Jossey­Bass.
Bennis, W. (1989) On Becoming a Leader. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley.
Bennis, W., Benne, K, & Chin, R., Eds. (1985). The Planning of Change. 4th Ed., New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 98­105.
Bennis, W. & Nanus, B. (1985). Leaders. New York: Harper & Row.
Brager, G. & Holloway, S. (1992). "Assessing the Prospects for Organizational Change: The Uses of Force Field Analysis." Administration in Social Work. 16(3/4), 15­28.
Chaudron, D. (1992). "How OD can help TQM." OD Practitioner. 24(1), 14­18.
Chaudron, D. (1993, June). Organization Development Does not Equal Total Quality Management. Presentation to the San Diego Organization Development Network.
Cohen, S. & Brand, R. (1993). Total Quality Management in Government. San Francisco: Jossey­Bass, Inc.
Ezell, M., Menefee, D., & Patti, R. (1989). "Managerial Leadership and Service Quality: Toward a Model of Social Work Administration," Administration in Social Work. 13(3/4), 73­98.
Gilbert, G. (1992). "Quality Improvement in a Defense Organization," Public Productivity and Management Review. 16(1), 65­75.
Hyde, A. (1992). "The Proverbs of Total Quality Management: Recharting the Path to Quality Improvement in the Public Sector," Public Productivity and Management Review. 16(1), 25­37.
Kanter, R. (1983). The Change Masters. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Martin, L. (1993). "Total Quality Management: The New Managerial Wave." Administration in Social Work. 17(2), 1­15.
Milakovich, M. (1991). "Total Quality Management in the Public Sector," National Productivity Review. 10, 195­213.
Nanus, B. (1992). Visionary Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey­Bass.
Osborne, D. & Gaebler, T. (1992). Reinventing Government. Reading, MA: Addison­Wesley.
Packard, T. (1989). Participation in decision making, Performance, and job satisfaction in a social work bureaucracy. Administration in Social Work. 13(1), 59­73.
Packard. T. & Reid, R. (1990). "OD in a Fire Department: Lessons in Using Parallel Structures and Institutionalization," Consultation. 9, 167­184.
Pruger, R. & Miller, L. (1991). "Efficiency," Administration in Social Work. 15(1/2), 42.
Rapp, C. & Poertner, J. (1992). Social Administration: A Client­Centered Approach. New York: Longman.
Reid, R. (1992). Personal communication.
Robey, D. (1991). Designing Organizations 3rd ed., Homewood, IL: Irwin, p. 42.
Senge, P. (1990). The Fifth Discipline. New York: Doubleday Currency.
Sugarman, B. (1988). "The Well­Managed Human Service Organization: Criteria for a Management Audit," Administration in Social Work. 12(2), 17­27.
Swiss, J. (1992). "Adapting TQM to Government," Public Administration Review. 52, 356­362.
Tichey, N. (1983). Managing Strategic Change. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Vroom, V. and Yetton, P. (1973). Leadership and Decision Making. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

No comments: