Sigma and Quality Managemnet Six Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

The results retrieved by Victor, Boynton and Stephens-Jang point out to a necessity to find a balance between standardized work and continuous learning process. They also indicate that employees who have managed to find this balance reveal higher levels of on-the-job satisfaction, as well as lower levels of stress.

A crucial approach to total quality management is taken by Mohamed Zairi (2002), who looks at quality management in the context of the current threats. He argues for instance the growing threats of competition, as promoted by the intensifying forces of globalization, or the necessity for any organization to operate in accordance with the growing concerns for environmental well-being. In this context, Zairi points out not only to the necessity of TQM for organizational survival, but even more so for the importance of sustainable models of TQM that maintain organizational competitiveness. The basic idea is that of the ongoing necessity for organizations to continually adapt to the changing features of the micro and macroenvironments.

The model proposed by Mohamed Zairi is in many ways similar to the previously presented concepts, in the meaning that it argues and promotes the importance of TQM in customer satisfaction, employee motivation and organizational processes. Nevertheless, it also introduces a new element -- that of the tremendous role played by an informational system. This is represented by the IT infrastructure and by its usage by organizational members, as well as by the culture that promotes the integration of technologies and information to achieving company success. In this order of ideas, Zairi's article introduces a less discussed concept of the IT role in TQM, which is extremely vast and present virtually at all organizational levels. Information is for instance gathered and assessed to: enhance employee satisfaction and performances; assess customer satisfaction and identify new needs; assess the company's competitive position; develop and test potential business strategies and so on.

As previously mentioned, a model that draws significantly on the principles of total quality management is Six Sigma. This model is mostly a statistical one, which has significantly impacted the way organizations forecast their operations, consider statistical operations, and strive to operate by reducing defects. Gerald Hahn, William Hill, Roger Hoerl and Stephen Zingraf (1999) argue that the business role of statistics, in a context in which more and more managers enthusiastically implement Six Sigma, is changing at a rapid pace. According to them, the concept was initially implemented in manufacturing, but has since then evolved to be integrated at various other organizational levels, not traditionally associated with quality control.

The direct impact has materialized in a chanting role of the statistical and financial departments, which are no longer perceived as data registering facilities, but which play an increased role in business strategy development. Additionally, Six Sigma has managed to integrate both visionaries, as well as executive leaders in the creation of a realistic approach that is based on innovative ideas, and which stands increased chances of supporting organizational success. Overall, the article by Hahn and his colleagues is a new approach to the issue of quality control as it introduces the role of statisticians in business efforts. The merits are mostly due to the fact that statistics has generically been perceived as a slow and uninteresting field, but due to Hahn and his co-editors, it has been revived.

The final view to be hereby presented was issued by David Rylander and Tina Provost in 2006 and it revolves around the tremendous role played by Six Sigma in enhancing the quality of the relationship between organization and its customers. While nothing may seem new about this approach, it is interesting to notice that the authors argue that Six Sigma should be combined with online efforts, and that this combination would significantly contribute to organizational performances. Their findings draw back on General Electric's experience with Six Sigma, element which virtually makes the finings even more so reliable, as they have been empirically observed and tested.

The premise of Rylander and Provost's article is that the abundance of technological applications has turned the customer away from the company, and that this gap is created by a lack of human contact. The two editors propose a model of Six Sigma ideology, according to which online communications with customers are enhanced. In their own words, "the goal is to systematically generate actionable information that will enhance the ability to swiftly attend to customer satisfaction issues by making managers responsible for bringing human contact back into the realm of customer relationship management (CRM)."

4. Applications

The analysis of the specialized literature has basically led to the following findings:

Organizational performance has to be measured in terms of the company's relationship to all categories of stakeholders

All organizational efforts aimed at quality improvement have to be integrated in a universal approach, implemented organization-wide

A specific application of TQM is centered on the employees' finding of a balance between their standardized traditional work and a continuous process of improvement

Information Technology, in the meaning of the infrastructure and the management of information, is pivotal throughout the total quality management process and indispensable to overall organizational success

The Six Sigma model contributes to internal shifts in the roles played by organizational departments, the most relevant example in this sense being reflected by statistics and financials

Six Sigma can be used to bridge better relations with the customer, and this can even occur within the virtual environment.

Each of these findings can easily be applied within a real organizational context. For exemplification, take the case of the Lufthansa flight operator, the leading European airline company. Each of the above strategies can be implemented to enhance the quality of the company's services and as such lead to superior levels of customer satisfaction and consequently higher financial results for the company.

First of all, as mentioned by Gopal Kanji, Lufthansa should commence its quality improvement efforts by first measuring its current business excellence models. This should be achieved through a gradual assessment of the means in which the company is able to satisfy the needs of its customers, its employees, the general public or other categories of stakeholders. For instance, is the company able to offer clients the sense of safety and security, so necessary now as the threat of terrorist hijacks increases? In terms of staff members, is the organization able to provide a safe, dynamic and rewarding working environment in which the employees are committed to their employer? Relative to the general public, is Lufthansa making sufficient efforts to reduce the levels of pollution and waste generated by its aircrafts? Once these, and other, questions are answered, the company's managerial team will have a strong starting point for future improvement endeavors.

Then, as argued by Vora, the managerial team at Lufthansa would have to ensure that the strategies they develop and implement to eventually lead to enhanced quality levels and increased financial results are applied at all levels, rather than just at some departments. Otherwise put, the leaders at the European airline organization would have to ensure that their quality improvement strategies are concomitantly focused on the customer, the employees and the organizational processes. For instance, they ought to simultaneously present the employees with incentives, while the customers are offered price reductions, and while the company offers grants and subsidies to environmental organizations focused on alternative sources of energy and other measures of reducing pollution. The benefits of such an approach would be tremendous and obvious in terms of a strengthened organizational reputation, better committed employees (who perform at superior levels) and better satisfied customers, all to eventually lead to incremental revenues.

Looking at the specific issue of employee satisfaction and performances, it becomes obvious that the managerial team at Lufthansa ought to focus on supporting its staff members to reach a balance between their traditional operations and their learning processes. For instance, the company could create and consolidate an organizational culture in which the learning process is not a sporadic event, but a way of conducting business. On the other hand however, they must also point out to the necessity for the employees to fly the plane, attend to the customers, serve their administrative functions and so on.

Employee support in reaching the desired state of balance could be offered through group training sessions, as well as through individual discussions between employees and managers. It could even be useful to contract the services of external parties, specialized in management consultancy services. What is however pivotal is to create a strong culture that promotes commitment to performance and to customer satisfaction, but also enforces the principles of a friendly and supportive workplace, in which all employees are free to speak their minds and encouraged to engage in open conversations with their peers, subalterns and superiors at all times.

The organizational culture can be promoted with the aid of IT support. Aside culture however, information technology can…

Sources Used in Document:


Gabor, A., 2001, Quality Revival, Part 2: Ford Embraces Six Sigma, The New York Times

Hahn, G.J., Hill, W.J., Hoerl, R.W., Zinkgraf, S.A., 1999, The Impact of Six Sigma Improvement -- A Glimpse into the Future of Statistics, The American Statistician, Vol. 53, No. 3

Kanji, G.K., 2002, Business Excellence: Make It Happen, Total Quality Management, Vol. 13, No. 8

Harry, M., Schroeder, R., 2000, Six Sigma, Random House, ISBN 0-385-49437-8

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