05 January 2008

The Mentality & Danger of TQM

I have been a strong supporter of TQM (Total Quality Management) and related methodology like Six-Sigma. These are good things to minimize variations and ensure consistent quality. But over-emphasizing TQM or only doing TQM leads us to a "Defect Fixing" mentality. We are led to think that "success comes from removing defects or overcoming weaknesses/deficit". This is the danger of TQM mentality because this mentality is not fully correct.

A champion racer or swimmer needs more than just staying healthy and free from sickness. They have to train and build up their skill, mental and body strength etc. Such training has nothing or little to do with the healing of sickness or staying healthy. TQM is a necessary but insufficient condition for success to speak in mathematical language.

In Tom Rath's "Strengths Finder 2.0" pg 19 "Instead, we have discovered that the most successful people start with their dominant talent - and then add skills, knowledge, and practice to the mix. When they do this, the raw talent actually serves as a multiplier." In short, success comes from using and building up your strengths and not just fixing your deficit.

In the corporate world, in your business, you need to discover your strengths, go for innovations, and do not just rely on TQM for your success. TQM alone is not enough for success in the long term.

Building on your strengths, innovating and then augmented by TQM are the surer ways to success. For those who are interested in looking at things from the strength point of view, please see literature in Appreciative Inquiry .... http://appreciativeinquiry.case.edu/intro/default.cfm

The key is then:
Develop your strengths, outsource your weaknesses and you can become champions.
If you just focus on your weaknesses, even if you can fix it, you are just a mediocre average.

(note: outsourcing is about getting others to help you manage and do for you what they could do better than yourself).

Let me re-emphasize the needs for studying your success.
Quoting from Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast, "If you don't know the reasons for your success, then if you fail, you don't know how to fix it".

Lim Liat (c) 5 Jan 2008

[Update 6 Apr 2018]
Just found a story that testifies to building from your strengths to succeed in life.
See Design for Your Strengths