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Pakistan’s Sixth International Convention on

Quality Improvement

November 14-15, 2000, at Lahore

TQM Implementation in
Pakistan: Revolutionary vs.
Evolutionary approach






Dr. Jamshed H. Khan

Associate Professor

The Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)


Intense global competition and diminishing trade barriers are making it more and
more difficult for companies to maintain their market share. To survive in such a
competitive environment a business must maximize total value that it delivers to the
customer while minimizing the real costs. To achieve this difficult task a successful
business needs to foster a culture where each and every member of the organization is
continually striving to delight the customer while minimizing wastage of resources. This
customer-focused culture, which also emphasizes continuous improvement, is called
Total Quality Management (TQM). Different approaches to developing this culture is
the main focus of this paper.

Six successful TQM implementations in Pakistan are studied in detail to develop

recommended guidelines for successful TQM implementation in Pakistan. The
implementation processes followed by these companies are broadly categorized as:
revolutionary and evolutionary. This paper outlines these approaches and suggests
when either approach would be more suitable than the other.


A very comprehensive definition of TQM has been given in the Report of the Total
Quality Leadership Steering Committee and Working Councils. This definition was
developed through a consensus of the Chairmen/ CEOs of 9 major U.S. corporations,
deans and professors of major universities, and eminent consultants in TQM methods
and principles, The definition is as follows:

“Total Quality (TQ) is a people – focused management system that aims at continual
increase of customer satisfaction at continually lower real cost. TQ is a total system
approach (not a separate area or program), and an integral part of high level strategy; it
works horizontally across functions and departments, involves all employees, top to
bottom, and extends backwards and forward to include the supply chain and the
customer chain. TQ stresses learning and adaptation to continual change as keys to
organizational success.
The foundation of Total quality is philosophical - a belief system. TQ includes
systems, methods and tool. The systems permit change; the philosophy stays the
same. TQ is anchored in values that stress the dignity of the individual and the power of
community action.”

TQM is a philosophy, a belief system, which ensures that an organization produces

the highest value for the customer for any given price. A TQ organization uses its
resources in the best possible way to maximize customer value, as it produces only
what the customer wants, and minimizes waste. Sustainability is ensured through
motivating the workforce, and emphasizing continuous improvement.


TQM is neither solely a ‘Management System’ nor does it entail only using specific
‘Management Tools’. TQM is about developing a culture based upon the ‘philosophy’ of
absolute customer focus. The ‘systems’ and ‘tools’ are for the purpose of supporting
and reinforcing the philosophy within the organizational culture.

A simple model for TQM consists of two main components

• TQM Philosophy
• TQM Systems & Tools

Total quality management cannot exist without complete acceptance of its

philosophy by at least the top management. Once the basic philosophy is accepted by
the top management then different systems and tools can be initiated to propagate and
facilitate TQM philosophy based culture.


TQM philosophy consists of four basic beliefs:

• Absolute Customer Focus

• Employee Empowerment, Involvement and Ownership
• Continuous Improvement
• Use of Systematic Approaches to Management

The core of the TQM philosophy is ‘absolute customer focus’. Beliefs of ‘employee
empowerment, involvement and ownership’, ‘continuous improvement’ and ‘the use of
systematic management’ help the organization achieve continual increase of customer
satisfaction at a continually lower real cost.



Figure 1: Components of TQM Philosophy and their Interrelationships

Figure one graphically describes the individual components of the TQM philosophy
and their inter-relationships, which are further, discussed in subsequent sections.


An organization with a TQ culture is obsessed with delighting the customer.

Everyone and everything in that organization exists for this purpose. TQ
organization knows who its customers are and what they want. It will deliver
only what its customers want and nothing else. In addition to focusing on
external customers, clear awareness and importance of internal customers
also exists.

It is clearly understood that if, for any reason, customers become

dissatisfied, the business will not survive for very long. This conceptual
clarity exists from the boardroom to the janitorial closet.


A TQ organization strongly believes that its most valuable assets are its
people and aggressively seeks to achieve sustainable competitive
advantage through them.

The goals and vision of the organization are in absolute harmony with the
personal goals and visions of its employees. Everyone is fully committed to
delight their customers both internal and external. There is a strong feeling
of common destiny. Open communication exists at all levels and there are
no social barriers between management and workers at any level. Most
importantly, there is complete absence of fear.
The tasks required to be completed by each individual are clearly defined
and the employees are appropriately trained to successfully complete them.
Everybody is conscious of their contribution to the process of delighting
customers, both external and internal, and is fully motivated to do it better
every time. The individual is also fully empowered to use his mind to create
better value for the customer.

The culture in a TQ organization is exceedingly supportive and family-like

where finger pointing is discouraged and constructive guidance is the norm.
Learning from mistakes is encouraged and faults in systems are not wrongly
blamed on people. The primary focus is on teamwork and joint ownership,
but there is ample reward and recognition for high achievers. In fact, it
encourages and provides all possible support to make every employee a
high achiever. Gains are shared fairly and achievements properly rewarded.
A sense of fairness and common destiny is prevalent.


Customer needs are always changing. To delight their customers, TQ

organizations continually improve their products and processes.

Continuous improvement in a TQ organization relates to every component

in the value chain in all categories like, costs, defects, response time and
product characteristics amongst many others. There are two types of
improvement approaches that a TQ organization focuses on. One is a
gradual step by step approach for incremental improvements. The other is
breakthrough approach whereby radical change and quantum
improvements in the process or the product are realized. Both approaches
are pursued simultaneously in a TQ organization. However, incremental
improvements show visible results immediately, and are frequent, whereas
breakthrough improvement results are less frequent and generally take a
much longer time to become visible.


To consistently produce what the customer wants, an organization needs

reliable systems. Systems are instrumental in reducing the variability that
effects quality, costs, and delivery. As a TQ organization can not afford to
compromise on either of the three, it insures that appropriate systems are in
place to deliver the highest value to the customer at the right place and at
the right time. In TQ organizations there is a strong emphasis on using a
systematic management approach and all levels of employees believe in
and use systems to ensure that they only deliver what the customer wants.


Employee empowerment, involvement and ownership, continuous

improvement and systematic management reinforce each other.
Continuous improvement is not possible without employees taking initiative
to improve their performance. Unless the top management is committed to
the development of its employees, there will be little benefit drawn from their
empowerment with respect to continuous improvement. Similarly, if there is
no sense of ownership amongst individuals there will be little drive to
improve their performance or systems.

People will only use systematic management if there is a sense of

ownership of these systems by them. If the work force is developed,
empowered and has customer focus, the systems developed by them will
perform in congruence with the organizational objectives of customer

A culture of “continuous improvement” cannot be adapted without faith in

“systems” which are indicative of performance and help organizations in
developing better processes and their evaluation. Similarly, the workforce
cannot be empowered for the betterment of organizational effectiveness
without proper systems for their training and development.

Organizations cannot become customer oriented if they do not have

systems to assess the needs of their customers. Most importantly the TQM
philosophy cannot be sustained in a culture of the organization without
formal systems.


Systems and tools systematically inculcate and reinforce the TQ culture within an
organization. The philosophy initiates from top management but all levels of employees
need to develop commitment and ownership to sustain it. Much coaching, modeling and
reinforcement is required to achieve it. These tools may relate to teamwork, leadership,
human resources, process management, or collecting customer focus information, to
name just a few. It is not necessary that all the tools will be relevant for everybody.
Some tools may be very effective for one organization where as they may completely
fail in another. It is also possible that a tool may work for a while and then loose its
effectiveness. Therefore tools are replaceable and at time interchangeable period, but
the core philosophy of TQM never changes and always remains the same. Typically
when one tool looses its effectiveness another tool is selected to support and reinforce
the TQM philosophy. Therefore failure of a tool should not be interpreted as a failure of
TQM initiative but rather it’s a signal to use another tool.


Developing a TQ culture within an organization is not an easy task. Yet the rewards
are extremely high. Organizations that have succeeded in their efforts have developed a
sustainable competitive advantage that reflects positively in their long-term profitability
and market share. Motorola, Xerox, Texas Instrument and The Ritz are a few of the
better-known companies that attribute their success to TQM. What these organizations
have learnt is that TQM is simply the right way of doing business. All it requires is the
will to listen to your customers, belief in your people, belief in continuously improving the
way of doing business and having faith in the use of a systematic approach to

Dobbs, (1994) reported that the top management support, strategic planning,
employee participation, and communication are essential to implement TQM in local
government and other public organizations.

Cameron and Quinn (1999) reported that TQM implementation was dependent on
quality being embedded in and reflected by the culture of the organization. Unless the
organization culture is congruent with the quality initiative, positive outcome were less

Cole (1999) attributed the development of quality as a culture to the Japanese.

Japanese quality took on the characteristic of belief system rather than merely a set of
tools and techniques.

Kane (1992) reported TQM implementation in a software house. The TQM initiative
started with a shared vision of the company’s future and continued with coordinated,
top-down design of business process that was capable of achieving desired results. It
led to continuous improvement effort that focused every associate and every work
activity on fulfilling the vision, and culminated in an organizational culture where quality
improvement was the business strategy and the management system.

Shea and Gobeli, (1995) concluded after analyzing the TQM implementation
experiences in ten small businesses, that TQM principles, procedures, and tools that
work for large organizations could be effective in small ones as well. After all, customer
orientation, employee involvement, and continuous improvement are not new
management concepts. Processes in a small business can be less complex and more
informal, so a structured approach to problem solving is not equally applicable or may
need adjustments. The owners and mangers led the way by using multiple sources to
understand TQM principles and how to apply them.

Mani, (1995) described the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) experience in

implementing TQM. Their experience suggest that there are advantages in redesigning
the principles of public administration as principles of TQM. They also found that
demonstrated commitment of top level management was critical to the successful
implementation of TQM.

Kordupleski, et all (1993) reported that too often, quality initiatives fail to improve
quality because they concentrate on internal processes, which do not affect the
customer. They suggest that one way to avoid this problem would be to organize the
collection of customer satisfaction measures around the managerial process
themselves. This form a natural bridge from the customer to management and allows
management to track the impact of quality improvements all the way from internal
process measures to overall customer satisfaction and market share.

Hines (1998) reported the six phased procedure for implementation of TQM in a
manufacturing company. These six phases were (1). Initial TQM training, (2). First pilot
SPC programs. (3) Expansion of pilot programs (4) First TQM team (5) Expansion of the
TQM team concept (6) Creation of Quality council.
Eitan Naveh & Miriam Erez’s (1998) study lead to the conclusion that the
implementation of a quality initiative that involved; tools and measures; CEO’s vision;
and quality goals at the individual, team, and organizational levels proved to be the
most effective. Both performance quality and employee satisfaction and commitment
significantly improved.

Jick (1992) proposes the famous ten commandments for implementing change in an
organization which are given in Table one.

Table 1: The Ten Commandments for Implementing Change

1. Analyze the organization and its need for change

2. Create a shared vision and common direction
3. Separate from the past
4. Create a sense of urgency
5. Support a strong leader role
6. Line up political sponsorship
7. Craft an implementation plan
8. Develop enabling structures
9. Communicate, involve people, and be honest
10. Reinforce and institutionalize change

All of the above mentioned studies recommend an approach to implementing TQM.

But to my knowledge the literature does not deal with comparing and contrasting
different implementation approaches and recommending when and under what
circumstances each of them should be used.


This chapter is primarily based on in depth study of six successful implementations

of TQM in Pakistani companies. Although it also draws upon the authors experience in
more than twenty attempts at TQM implementation in Pakistan with varying degree of
success. Table two gives the industry wise breakdown of the companies studied.

Table 2: Industry Wise Breakdown of Companies Studied

Industry # Of companies
Textiles 1
Engineering goods 2
Consumer products 1
Pharmaceutical 1
Automotive 1

All successful TQM initiatives come from the chief executive officer (CEO). The
CEOs get interested in TQM usually in one of the two ways: either they were asked by
their head office to start a TQM initiative (as in the case of most multinationals), or, they
were driven by the customer demands and market setbacks to start the TQM initiative
(as in the case of local companies). In the words of one CEO what made them start
TQM initiatives was “Due to the deteriorating quality of our products, some customers
had started to look for other buyers and the major customer of the company were
threatening to withdraw orders.”

Even though the original push for TQM in multinational organizations usually came
from the head office but success still required the full belief in the TQM philosophy and
complete ownership of the TQM initiative by the local CEO. Multinationals where the
local CEO did not believe in TQM philosophy or and or did not own the TQM initiative,
usually ended up in failure.

All successful companies had strong top-management commitment. The CEOs

publicly displayed their support for TQM on and regular basis, and most of them
practiced MBWA (management by walking around).

There were generally two approaches used by the successful Pakistani companies
in implementing TQM, first approach could be described as an revolutionary approach
where the whole organization collectively jumps into the change process at the
beginning, the process taken by these organizations is given in table two.

Table 3: Typical Revolutionary Implementation Process for TQM

1. CEO commitment
2. Gaining top management commitment and training
3. Developing implementation team and structures
4. Mass initiatives to involve everybody in the organization in the
change process
Mass communication and discussion on common vision
4.2) Mass training
4.3) Large team initiatives
5. Elimination of old culture
Removal of barriers between hierarchy
Opening of two way communications at all levels
Removal of fears
Demonstration of shared destiny by action
6. Reinforcement of new culture
Development of systems to enhance value for the customer
Systematic training to enhance capability
Increasing empowerment and involvement by employees
Frequent recognition activities and rewards for achievements
7. Constant search for improvement

The second approach could be described as an evolutionary approach where some

of the TQM philosophy and tools are applied to a section of the organization at first
stage. As the first stage proves successful then the process is expanded to include
more of the TQM philosophy and tools to the larger sections of the organization in an
incremental fashion. This process is given in table three.
Table 4: Typical Evolutionary Implementation Process for TQM

1. CEO commitment.
2. Gaining top management commitment and training
3. Implementing components of Total Quality culture in a small section of
the organization
4. Expanding the Total Quality implementation to other sections after the
first attempt has proven successful.
5. Individual Total Quality tools applied sequentially in a step by step
6. Training only on need bases
7. Total Quality culture not dominant in the beginning but slowly gains
8. With the persistent commitment of CEO, TQM culture becomes
dominant while the old culture slowly fades away

Table five gives the break down of the approaches followed by the companies

Table 5: Detail of TQM Approaches used by the Companies Studied

Approaches # Of companies
Revolutionary 3
Evolutionary 2
Started with revolutionary and end up 1
with evolutionary


This process starts with the commitment of CEO. Once the CEO is fully
committed, then he involves the top management and seeks their commitment.

The usual method is to arrange a workshop for the top management to

jointly develop corporate vision which includes development of a customer
focused culture in the organization. The CEO is an active participant in the
workshop and also acts as chief motivator, persuading and nudging his
colleagues towards the sponsorship of the common vision.

If all the top management is on board and ready to actively support the TQM
initiative then the enabling structure are developed, resources are allocated
a quality support organization is established, and a quality champion is
hired. Quality champion and his team’s primary responsibilities are to
support, guide, and motivate the people through the change process, but
the primary responsibility of active leadership for the change initiative still
lies with CEO.

The mass introduction to the TQM initiatives starts with the speech from
CEO, where he introduces the TQM philosophy and emphasizes the need
for customer focus culture in the organization. This usually is a very
emotional affair. Therefore two typical responses to the CEO’s speech,
some of the employees will be motivated and willing to change, whereas
others would be skeptical about the sustainability of top management
commitment towards initiatives. This would also depend upon how many
failed starts has the organization taken in the past. To ensure the
momentum several steps are taken immediately after the mass introduction,
this includes initiatives to introduce and inculcate ownership of the
corporate vision by all of the employees, introduction of the TQM philosophy
and, few of the basic tools for its implementation. Some team initiatives are
also introduced at this time to develop ownership by the employees.

One company started a weekly town hall meetings where the employees
could discuss the corporate vision and TQM implementation with the senior
managers. Another company started formal preaching sessions where the
corporate vision, core values and TQM philosophy was indoctrinated.

Most of the companies had all their employees go through three to five days
of basic training in TQM philosophy and tools by outside consultants. All the
companies stated some forms of team initiatives, these included, quality
circles, and kaizen, 5S, or cross-functional teams.

While the above mentioned activities are going on, major initiatives are also
taken to eliminate the old culture. Traditionally these companies had lot of
hierarchical and departmental barriers that had to be removed. Cross-
functional teams were used to remove the functional barriers and several
joint activities between different levels of management hierarchy helped
remove the hierarchical barriers. The separate dinning and bathrooms
facilities for managers were some of the first barriers to be removed from all
the companies. Joint activities like sports were also started.

Lack of open communication caused lot of uncertainty, fear and

misunderstanding therefore several initiatives were taken to remove the
communication barriers. Open door policies were initiated and the workers
were encouraged to express their views at different forums without any fear
of reprisals. One company started a monthly meeting with all the
employees to discuss the state of TQM initiatives, everybody was
encouraged to ask any question he felt like and all the senior management
had to be there to answer. The CEO of this company gave personal
guarantee of no harm coming to the person regardless of what the question
was. This was personally demonstrated by the CEO, by publicly
appreciating and hugging the junior employee when the CEO was asked a
very probing and blunt question about his lack of consistence support for the
past initiatives.

All the companies also started some form of suggestion schemes. The
major determining factor of the success of these schemes was a quick and
fair response to the suggestion.

The most common sources of fear in these organizations were job security
and unknown appraisal and promotion system, in order to remove this fear
most of CEO’s guaranteed that no body will be fired due to the
improvements from the TQM initiatives. These companies also developed
an open and transparent appraisal and promotion system.

In all interactions with the employees, top and senior management always
emphasized the common vision and the shared destiny. The companies
started sharing the detailed profit and loss information with their employees
and some of the companies also set up a transparent profit sharing
mechanism which everybody could see for themselves.

After the initial phase of introduction of TQM culture, additional systems

were put in place to sustain the drive. Some kind of operational quality
systems like ISO 9000 was implemented to ensure consistent quality.

Major focus was placed on human resources as the newly developing

culture emphasized people as major assets. A clear carrier path was
designed and they were given specific job description with well defined job
responsibilities. Extensive employee training became the norm, and as the
capability of the employees increased they were assigned increasing level
of responsibilities and were empowered to make decisions within their
capability level.

Frequent recognition activities were held at all levels and super achievers
were publicly recognized and awards were given. Usually the rewards on
quality achievements were primarily symbolic. Some companies did give
monitory awards for suggestions, but they usually worked well in the
beginning but their effect deteriorated later. Although rewards based on
increased productivity did work well in the TQM culture but the productivity
needed to be defined by accepting only the output which met the quality
standards, therefore non-standard output was not considered at all.

Finally a culture emerges which has institutionalized customer focus,

employee empowerment and involvement and systematic management at
its core and stresses continuous improvement in everything all the time.


The first step for the evolutionary process of TQM implementation is the
same as that for the revolutionary approach i.e., commitment and ownership
of the CEO for the TQM initiative. Although this does not necessarily have
to be a very strong commitment. Next step is also similar to the
revolutionary approach where a workshop is organized to get the top
management commitment for the TQM initiative. In the evolutionary
approach, it is not necessary to have the commitment from all top
management, the process can continue with some of the top management
not fully committed to the TQM initiative.

In contrast to the revolutionary approach, in evolutionary approach some of

the TQM elements are implemented in a section of the company only.
Generally this section has a senior manager who believes in the TQM
philosophy and committed to the initiative. Only the people involved are
given training for the TQM tools that are being applied.

After the first stage has shown some positive results, the TQM
implementation is expanded to few others sections, and new tools may be
added to initiative. The basic premise being that success of one area will
bring about the commitment of those who were not convinced of the
benefits of TQM culture in the beginning. The evolutionary process moves
very slowly but it requires the strong, consistent and visible support from the
CEO to survive.

One company began the empowerment process by making teams to handle

simple tasks like handling food and transport needs of the worker in a new
facility. Once the food and transport experiment worked out well, several
senior managers who were skeptical about advantages of empowering
workers did change their minds. This allowed the company to start
empowerment initiatives in other departments such as customer service and
sales. During the process, training in quality philosophy and tools was given
only to those individual who were involved in the empowerment activities.
Another company started quality circles in some of its shop where the
support for TQM initiative was high.

When the evolutionary process starts, people believing in TQM philosophy

are usually in a minority. With the persistent support of the CEO people
start changing their perspective and more and more people start believing in
TQM philosophy. If each of the steps proves successful then the TQM
culture slowly becomes the dominant culture. In case of failure of some
initiatives, there is a set back, but unless the CEO’s support diminishes the
TQM journey continues.


Revolutionary approach is the preferred way of developing TQM culture as it

ensures that the old guard and people resistant to change can be identified
early and they are either persuaded to change their views or they leave.
This removes a major hurdle in the change process enabling it to progress
smoothly and new culture can establish and take hold much earlier. This
also ensures that the customer gets a clear signal of the commitment to the
TQM culture and the chances of conflicting signals are minimized.

Revolutionary approach requires that all the top management are

completely committed to the change process. They also should be willing
to invest all the needed resources, time, and energies up-front, and wait a
while before monitory returns come in which is usually in about two years.
The quality improvement results come in much faster then identifiable
monitory returns. This approach also requires top management to take
some painful decisions making the overall process of change very difficult.
It also causes some disruption to the regular processes while the resistance
to change is overcome. All the companies that successfully used
revolutionary approach, either convinced their top management colleagues
to the advantages of developing TQM culture or asked them to leave before
the mass introduction was launched.

If this level of top management commitment is not available or the company

is very large and geographically dispersed then revolutionary approach may
not be the best way to proceed. One of the worst things that can happen in
the revolutionary change initiatives is that the top management gives
conflicting signals in terms of their commitment to TQM, which will make the
initiative fail and future attempts to bring about change would become many
times more difficult.

One of the companies which started with the revolutionary approach was
later forced to convert it into an evolutionary approach because they were
unable to gain the support of their directors and were unable to let them go
for a variety of reasons. Another company also abandoned the
revolutionary approach where one of the key regional executive refused to
support the TQM initiatives.

A geographically dispersed organization which does not have enough

leaders committed to the TQM philosophy to cover all locations can also not
use a revolutionary approach.

The evolutionary approach needs to be used when both of the above

mentioned conditions are present. It allows enough examples of success to
accumulate in an organization to help skeptical people change their mind
about the utility of TQM philosophy. The initial resource outlay is not very
large and the CEO can focus his attention on a manageable change area.

If this process is not managed carefully the chance of its failure increases
significantly, as the people in the top management who did agree with TQM
initiative get a chance to sabotage it, thereby proving the correctiveness of
the initial view that TQM would not work in their company. There is also a
danger of CEO’s focus being diverted to some other initiative and CEO
support for TQM may disappear which will ensure the failure of the TQM


This chapter covers several misunderstandings that are prevalent about the TQM
and its applicability in a Pakistani environment. It also presents a set of do’s and don’ts
that needs to be considered when implementing TQM in Pakistan.


TQM starts with a philosophical base-systems and tools are relevant after the
philosophy is established. Most of the TQM efforts fail because organizations try to
implement TQM techniques (Tools and Systems) without adopting the TQM philosophy.
They start the journey from the wrong point (Fig.3). Instead of starting with the
philosophy they try to first use the tools and the systems without ensuring that at the
very minimum, the philosophy is absorbed by the top management. The correct way to
implement TQM within an organization is to start with a firm belief in and commitment to
the philosophy of TQ by the top management. Then, development of systems to
inculcate this philosophy at all levels of the organization initiated. During this process
specific tools can be utilized to delight the customer.




Figure 2: Approach to Total Quality

In most cases, deficiencies of TQM systems and tools are mistaken to be that of the
philosophy. It is not necessary that a tool which works for one organization will also
work for another. The size, the organizational structure, the processes, motivational
variables and a host of other endogenous and exogenous variables give a company a
particular character. The duration and manner by which the TQ culture is embedded in
the organization will thus vary from company to company. There is no one size fits-all

A study carried out by Earnest and Young in 1993 suggested gradual transformation
and adoption of the TQ culture to be the best approach. It suggested that ‘low
performing companies’ should concentrate on the development of their people,
customer interaction, process improvement, and cost reduction instead of trying to do
too much too soon. ‘Medium performing companies’ were advised to focus on vendor
quality, employee training, cycle time analysis, and process simplification. Complex
practices such as benchmarking and employee empowerment were only beneficial for
‘higher performing companies’. However, they specified that inputs from customers and
employee training are key issues at all levels of performance.


People regularly complain that TQ is an alien culture probably originating in Japan or

USA. Therefore, it is not relevant to our social norms and cultural background.
This is a completely wrong perception as it ignores the basic ethical norms and
religious values of our society, not withstanding that some of them may not be very
much in practice at the present time.

To understand this complex issue lets look at a business transaction from a

customer’s perspective. Whenever a sale takes place there is an exchange between
the buyer and the seller. The seller sells a product or a service and receives, in return,
a specific payment. The buyer, on the other hand, makes a payment in return for a
product or service that he expects to perform a specific function. There may be an
explicit contract containing these customer expectations between the parties but, at the
very minimum, there is an implicit contract between the buyer and the seller about the
expected performance of the product. If the product performs equal to or more then the
expectations of the buyer we can say that the customer is either satisfied or delighted.
On the other hand, if the product or service fails to perform to this expected level we
would say that we have a dissatisfied customer.

Now what does the Islamic values system say about this transaction between the
buyer and the seller. Several Ahadis and Quranic injunctions insist on “fulfilling
promises and contracts” as a pre-requisite to becoming a pious Muslim. There are
several Ahadis relating to ‘selling of goods,’ which highlight the responsibility of the
seller to explain all the shortcomings of the product explicitly so as to adjust the buyer’s
expectations to the appropriate level. After a clear understanding of all the weaknesses
of the product, when the buyer experiences the actual product, he would, at the
minimum, be satisfied if not delighted.

Therefore we can safely conclude that the Islamic norms of business transactions
insist on ensuring customer satisfaction (i.e., meeting customer expectations that have
been agreed upon). Overall, the focus of the TQM philosophy is exactly the same, i.e.
to create a satisfied or, preferably, a delighted customer. Therefore, it would be
incorrect to say that the TQM philosophy is alien to our cultural or religious norms. As a
matter of fact it is possible that it may have been drawn from our own value systems
many centuries ago.


First and the foremost risk to the successful implementation is the loss of top
management commitment. This loss will have an impact on the implementation process
regardless of whenever it happens. Changing culture requires many years of top level
commitment which needs to be publicly demonstrated at all times. The top
management has to perform a continuous leadership role to sustain the TQM culture.

It is very important to select right approach to implementing TQM in any

organization. The chance of wrong approach will substantially increase the risk of

It is also very important to link all the TQM tools and activities with how they are
actually impacting the customer and the bottom line, there is a risk of loosing focus
while implementing TQM tools which could substantially reduce the advantages of these
Usually the resistance to TQM culture comes from the middle management as they
are the most effected party due to the empowerment of the workers. This has to be
considered in the planning activities and special initiatives are needed to get the middle
management on board.

Continuous reinforcement of the Total Quality culture is very important. This needs
to be incorporated into the regular activities of rewards and recognition. Special care
needs to be taken that these rewards and recognition activities do not become a
routine, as they could loose their effectiveness. New and innovative ways should be
used to recognize and reward super achievers.

At the beginning of TQM initiative the employees are given a guarantee that no body
would loose their job due to the improvements achieved from the TQM process. This
ensures that they can focus on changing the culture and not worry about loosing their
jobs. There always will be some people who will refuse to change and there would be
need to remove them in order to allow the change process to continue. These people
should only be removed from the organization after a clear and unambiguous case is
presented to the whole organization that they were given all the chances to participate
in the change process but they consistently refused. If this process is transparently
handled, then the removal of these individuals will not have any detrimental impact on
the commitment of other employees to the TQM culture rather it will strongly reinforce
the commitment of the top management towards TQM culture.

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