In preparation for a conference on the future of quality management in the late 1990s, Stanley A. Marash was able to easily put together a list of 32 quality programs that, since 1960, had come and, often, gone, including Benchmarking, Management by Objectives, Quality Circles, Total Quality Control, and Just-in-Time. Organizations seemed to try a new approach every three years or so. Marash decided to look for patterns to indicate why efforts succeeded or failed. The findings are presented in Fusion Management: Harnessing the Power of Six Sigma, Lean, ISO 9000:2000, Malcolm Baldrige, TQM and Other Quality Breakthroughs of the Past Century (2004, QSU Publishing Company, Fairfax, VA).
Marash identified four key reasons for failure across the programs:
Lack of executive leadership: Management needs to demonstrate commitment through time and actions, not merely words. Leadership at the highest level, not just the mid-level, must be involved.
Failure to deploy: The program must be supported beyond the start-up or pilot initiatives. Resources are needed to work on harder tasks, not just the low hanging fruit, with emphasis on content and accomplishments rather than buzz words and language. The program must be institutionalized to keep it going.
Seeking shortcuts: The organization needs to research, become familiar with, and adopt the whole program, not just some components or a veneer.
Inadequate measurement: Measures need to be established for outcomes and significant results related to customer satisfaction, not just internal interim processes and activities.
He saw a pattern in which a particular approach was successful for one organization and received publicity. Other organizations then decided to apply that approach. What was often adopted was a ‘diluted’ version. Adopters did not fully understand the approach, had no clear goals, wanted results without effort, and established no way to clearly measure results. As a result, within the organization there was frustration and disillusion, little if any improvement, and the energy for the change was lost.
Marash thus developed what he called Fusion Management, with the following components:
Leadership drives the process: Senior executives need to believe in it and be willing to commit resources.
The enterprise sets stretch goals: There are goals for both incremental continual improvement and significant breakthroughs.
Strategic plans are integrated: It is clear where the organization wants to go and how to get there – what to focus on in improvement initiatives.
Customer requirements are balanced with business results: There are both internal and external goals and measures, for the short and long term, and all stakeholders are included in planning and setting priorities.
Key measures of success are tied to the strategic business plan: It is clear which actions will move the organization forward.
The management system is process focused: There is a systemic approach to planning and decision making, with a cross-functional approach rather than internal turf wars.
Methods, tools, and sequences are customized: The organization is ready to use all improvement tools, where they apply and best fit.
This is an iterative process. Learn and build on past experience and success for future results, rather than repeatedly starting over with ‘new’ programs.