TQM Initiatives at Ford Motors Essay

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Normally, the designer's direct involvement into the user-research process is noted to be limited. There is however a need for a close collaboration between the researchers and the designers so that the quality attributes that are desired by the clients are adequately included into the final product (Donnelly, 2000).

It is therefore clear that for the user's perceptions of quality to be adequately captured and incorporated into the design and production stages of a given product, usability research must be thoroughly conducted and the results clearly communicated by the researchers to the design team. Ford Motors's application of a user-centric approach to the production of its products makes it very crucial for the company to actively be connected to the latest thoughts and perceptions that its clients may harbor.

The successful the initiative

It is important that the success of the TQM initiative to be gauged so as to highlight any deficiencies and inefficiencies that may exists as a result of the chosen approaches. The successful implementation of any TQM initiative is indicated by Mann and Kehoe (1995).Several researchers have indicated that TQM can be used as an important source of competitive advantage. However some of the literature in existence have also noted failures in the TQM initiatives (Fuchsberg, 1992; Jacob,1993, Brown,1993).Even though several corporations have demonstrated improvements in their achieved quality and performance, several others have either reduced their efforts towards the implementation of TQM initiatives or have abandoned them altogether. There are therefore several reports of unsuccessful TQM initiatives. These reports have led several researchers and experts to question the value and validity of the TQM concept with a view of demystifying its benefits and failures (Ackoff,1993; Jacob,1993; Becker,1993).

The successful implementation of any TQM initiative is noted by Kotter (1995) to be dependent largely on the ability of the management to lead the process of quality transformation within the company. Kotter (1995) outlined a total of eight errors that affects management's efforts towards the achievement of a successful TQM implementation. These include the lack of establishing a sense of urgency, the failure to create a guiding coalition which is powerful enough, lack of vision, failure to communicate the vision, lack of empowerment, lack of planning for the short-term wines, failure to consolidate improvements as well as failure of the company to engage in activities for institutionalizing the new approaches.

A study conducted by Abraham, Crawford, and Fisher (1999) revealed that the key factors in the achievement of a successful transformation of the quality culture is management support. Managers must therefore be perceived by the whole organization to be in support of the change via recognition, reward, resource allocation and communication (Abraham, Crawford, and Fisher, 1999.p.127). The importance of the management participation in the process of quality transformation via quality management and strategic explorations is noted by Leonard

and McAdam (2002). It is therefore clear that the factors that hinder the successful implementation of TQM initiatives are numerous. Some of these are lack of empowerment, lack of adequate resources, resistance to change by employees, lack of reward systems as well as inadequate techniques of performance appraisal.

The user-base approach that is adopted by Ford Motors in its production suffers from advantages and disadvantages. These are briefly described below.

.The user-based approaches indicate the role of the client/consumer as the very ultimate judge of product quality. Customers can therefore articulate their levels of satisfaction or dissatisfaction by the provision of the rationally behind their choice of judgment. The managers as well researchers can use several tools/marketing instruments and they may include subjective factors like courtesy, appearance, helpfulness as well as courtesy.

Tools such as SERVQUAL can be employed in order to measure the gap that exists between the expectations and perceptions of the customers (Parasuraman et al.,1985).

The most challenging part of defining quality depends on the ability to meets as well as exceed the expectations of the customers. This is because on one hand, the firm must be externally oriented while being able to translate the demand of the customers into an internal demand which is operational. The disadvantage of the use-based approach is that there is no guarantee that the actions and trade-off that takes place between the internal and external focus would eventually lead to the desired level of customer satisfaction. It is clearly argued by Oliver (1981) that the pre-purchase attitude is important in the subsequent evaluation of the level of customer perceived quality. This therefore means that clients are most likely to evaluate the quality of a good or service highly if their initial expectation is relatively high. The user-based approach is noted to favor the clients but is noted to pose serious challenges to the managers since they must be in apposition to evaluate and measure the perception of the clients (are very subjective) and then effectively translate them into an acceptable levels of operational efficiency.

As noted by Juran (1979), the user-based approach to quality involves the quality being judged by the user. Quality in this case is regarded as the 'fitness for use'. Care must therefore be taken to ensure that user needs are never ignored. As Walsh (1994) noted, consumerism has taken center stage at the changing face of management and the only way forward is to recognize the needs, wants and rights of the consumers.


This work therefore concludes that for any TQM initiative to be successful, the eight key elements that must exist within the organizational framework are ethics, communication, integrity, recognition, trust, leadership, teamwork and good leadership. These key elements must exist regardless of the form of TQM approach which is implemented by any given organization


Ahire, S.L. 1997. Management Science- Total Quality Management interfaces: An integrative framework. Interfaces 27 (6) 91-105.

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