Six Sigma vs. Total Quality Management

May 28, 2007 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Quality Management

Six Sigma vs. Total Quality Management
By Tony Jacowski

Six Sigma is a relatively new concept as compared to Total Quality Management (TQM). However, when it was conceptualized, it was not intended to be a replacement for TQM. Both Six Sigma and TQM have many similarities and are compatible in varied business environments, including manufacturing and service industries. While TQM has helped many companies in improving the quality of manufactured goods or services rendered, Six Sigma has the potential of delivering even sharper results.

Total Quality Management

Total Quality Management is often associated with the development, deployment, and maintenance of organizational systems that are required for various business processes. It is based on a strategic approach that focuses on maintaining existing quality standards as well as making incremental quality improvements. It can also be described as a cultural initiative as the focus is on establishing a culture of collaboration among various functional departments within an organization for improving overall quality.

Comparison To Six Sigma

In comparison, Six Sigma is more than just a process improvement program as it is based on concepts that focus on continuous quality improvements for achieving near perfection by restricting the number of possible defects to less than 3.4 defects per million. It is complementary to Statistical Process Control (SPC), which uses statistical methods for monitoring and controlling business processes. Although both SPC and TQM help in improving quality, they often reach a stage after which no further quality improvements can be made. Six Sigma, on the other hand, is different as it focuses on taking quality improvement processes to the next level.

The basic difference between Six Sigma and TQM is the approach. While TQM views quality as conformance to internal requirements, Six Sigma focuses on improving quality by reducing the number of defects. The end result may be the same in both the concepts (i.e. producing better quality products). Six Sigma helps organizations in reducing operational costs by focusing on defect reduction, cycle time reduction, and cost savings. It is different from conventional cost cutting measures that may reduce value and quality. It focuses on identifying and eliminating costs that provide no value to customers such as costs incurred due to waste.

TQM initiatives focus on improving individual operations within unrelated business processes whereas Six Sigma programs focus on improving all the operations within a single business process. Six Sigma projects require the skills of professionals that are certified as ‘black belts’ whereas TQM initiatives are usually a part-time activity that can be managed by non-dedicated managers.

Applications Where Six Sigma Is Better

Six Sigma initiatives are based on a preplanned project charter that outlines the scale of a project, financial targets, anticipated benefits and milestones. In comparison, organizations that have implemented TQM, work without fully knowing what the financial gains might be. Six Sigma is based on DMAIC (Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control) that helps in making precise measurements, identifying exact problems, and providing solutions that can be measured.

Conclusion

Six sigma is also different from TQM in that it is fact based and data driven, result oriented, providing quantifiable and measurable bottom-line results, linked to strategy and related to customer requirements. It is applicable to all common business processes such as administration, sales, marketing and R & D. Although many tools and techniques used in Six Sigma may appear similar to TQM, they are often distinct as in Six Sigma, the focus is on the strategic and systematic application of the tools on targeted projects at the appropriate time. It is predicted that Six Sigma will outlast TQM as it has the potential of achieving more than TQM.

Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution’s Six Sigma Online ( http://www.sixsigmaonline.org ) offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.

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14 people have left comments

I have seen the results of a full implementation of the six sigma philosophy while working at Sprint, thus giving me the expert opinion to say that six sigma has serious flaws in it’s philosophy that this article fails to recognize. My advice to the author of this comparison of “quality philosophies” is be honest and objective when you do a comparison, this article sounds like an ad for six sigma. Executives love six sigma because it disguises the only end result that matters to their short-sighted vision “higher profit margins” as a quality control action, thus giving upper management free reign to do what-ever they like in the name of quality control.

John Highmer wrote on April 20, 2010 - 9:24 am | Visit Link

total quality management an evolved workplace is by far no more superior than systems management of organizational growth in the aggressive growth and expansion agenda…six sigma outlines research and development and i think that is great….

kobalt 2000 EXECUTIVE OFFICER
D. ANDREW TOWERY

KOBALT 2000 wrote on April 20, 2010 - 6:59 pm | Visit Link

HI All

I have read lots of articles about six sigma and TQM, but I am still confused which one is usefull in long term be it for job profile or for business orientation?; That is either I should opt for six sigma or MBA in TQM,
I am looking forward to your answers to my query
My mail id: manpreet16@gmail.com

Manpreet Singh wrote on June 5, 2010 - 1:01 am | Visit Link

I have developed high interest in this area of knowledge and would be grateful to read more on six sigma methodologies.

Richard Ziku wrote on June 10, 2010 - 1:24 pm | Visit Link

“While TQM has helped many companies in improving the quality of manufactured goods or services rendered, Six Sigma has the potential of delivering even sharper results.”

Everything has potential, but this “article” doesn’t explain how it does this. It just uses buzz words nnd jargon to confuse the reader and reaches conclusions unsupported by argument or evidence.

“Six Sigma is more than just a process improvement program as it is based on concepts that focus on continuous quality improvements”.

This is what TQM and pretty much every quality control process wants to do.

“restricting the number of possible defects to less than 3.4 defects per million.”

This is a completely arbritrary number and actually represents 4.5 sigma (though I doubt if the author is aware of this). Striving for perfection, as agina the aim of TQm and every other quality control process.

“Although both SPC and TQM help in improving quality, they often reach a stage after which no further quality improvements can be made.”

How and why? You can’t just make this statement without evidence or argument to support it.

“Six Sigma, on the other hand, is different as it focuses on taking quality improvement processes to the next level.”

Ditto. What is “the next level”. I want to go to “the next level” as well, but that doesn’t make me better than anyone else.

“Six Sigma focuses on improving quality by reducing the number of defects”

And how does it do this? By improving processes? By improving adherence to internal targets? Hang on, that sounds like TQM

“It focuses on identifying and eliminating costs that provide no value to customers such as costs incurred due to waste.”

Yeah, because that’s a new idea.

“Six Sigma projects require the skills of professionals that are certified as ‘black belts’ whereas TQM initiatives are usually a part-time activity that can be managed by non-dedicated managers.”

6 sigma doesn’t require anybody to be anything. Most users are either yellow or green belts. Passing a course does not automatically make you a black belt.

“In comparison, organizations that have implemented TQM, work without fully knowing what the financial gains might be.”

Just because they do it badly, doesn’t make it worse than something else. You continually compare the ideal outcome from 6 sigma with the failings of poorly applied TQM.

“Conclusion”

A conclusion should not include new information. It it meant to summarise that which is previously presented. Worlds like “also” have no place here.

“Six sigma is also different from TQM in that it is fact based and data driven, result oriented, providing quantifiable and measurable bottom-line results, linked to strategy and related to customer requirements.”

Your argument is that TQM is none of these things? Do you really thing TQM doesn’t care about results, be they bottom-line or otherwise? And I assumed that data and facts were actually quantifiable, so that doesn’t need repeating. And it is not TQM which distracts management from strategy and customer requirements, rather it is exposing trainee managers to biased, nonsensical drivel such as this.

Fletcher wrote on June 20, 2010 - 11:11 pm | Visit Link

In the end, the difference between TQM and Six Sigma comes from that which is simply “perspective.” As managers, one should not be so quick as to adopt one over the other only because of popularity, because Six Sigma “takes it to the next level,” or because TQM doesn’t take it to the next level. Dependency on letting Six Sigma cover all aspects of quality control from point A to point Z is improbable because of the challenges that managers have, which are unique at different circumstances. Ultimately, having expertise on most, if not all, methods of quality control (TQM, Six Sigma, Kaizen, QC, etc.) will create a universal expert versus a narrow minded one.

Medlifebiz wrote on September 10, 2010 - 9:10 am | Visit Link

Hello Master Black Belts
If anyone is working (or has previously worked) as a Master Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma and would like to be a part of some reseach at Monash University in Melbourne please email Roger Hilton at roger.hilton@buseco.monash.edu.au
thanks

Roger Hilton wrote on September 26, 2010 - 2:23 am | Visit Link

I worked for Ericsson for 12 years and was heavily involved in their deployment of TQM.
I worked for Nortel for 12 years and was heavily involved in their deployment of 6 sigma.

Nortel is bankrupt.

Ericsson is the leader in their industy and the only one of the majors in their industry to remain independent after the dot-com bust.

6 sigma was not the cause of Nortel’s demise but it’s implemetnaiton reflected and amplified the already systemic problems of short term focus and discounting the knowledge of the people in the compamny.

TQM in Ericsson was the embodiment and systemization of it’s values of Professionalism, Respect (for everyone), and perseverance.
Basic TQM training had 3.5 days on understaning poeple and their opinion and 0.5 days on numbers.

Any Quality system run the risk of allowing numbers to take over decision making from people. Especially lazy managers.

In Ericsson TQM emphaiszed the value of poeple and their opinion.
One slogan was “properly understood opinions are facts”.
The most likely question in a review was WHO was involved in making this proposal. This was not to denigrate anyone but to ensure that the right people were involved. The correct answer was to prove full engagement of front line employee and customers.
Everyone’s involvement was a quiding philosophy.

In Nortel six sigma the favorite review question was “show me the data”. If you didn’t have numbers don’t show up far the a review.
The philosophy was “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it”.

In my experieicen and I think it is failry easy to see in the literature:
TQM emphaizes the power of human capital. Do the right things and the numbers will look after themselves.
Number can be used to point the the best place to improve. People know how to make those improvements and then see the numbers improve.

Six Sigma makes numbers a God and if the people can’t get the numbers to tell the story their opinion is not valid. For most poeple it is asking them to explain how to craft a vase using ancient greek.
So who gets make decisions about how to make better vases? Not the guys who know how to make vases, it is the guys who know ancient Greek.

Charlie wrote on January 24, 2011 - 1:57 am | Visit Link

both tqm & six sigma concerned with cutomer satisfaction . then wt should be major diff. bet. tqm & six sigma

rahul soni wrote on March 28, 2011 - 8:30 am | Visit Link

Kudos to Fletcher and Charlie for their replies!

At the end of the day it all gets down to WHO is using the tool and HOW rather than which tool is it

Jammer wrote on April 18, 2011 - 7:03 am | Visit Link

TQM is all embracing, hence the “Total” in its moniker. I cut my teeth on CQI in manufacturing, then as a Director of TQM for a major healthcare provider. I can distinguish between TQM and Six Sigma. In my experience, the latter can and often does form part of a TQM rollout. Six Sigma in my view is an expanded version of SPC, embracing design and evaluation. In that perspective it is more holistic, but far from being “Total” as is the case with TQM. So we are not comparing apples with apples. Simply use the Six Sigma processes as part of a TQM system and you will do just fine.

Brian Ward wrote on April 26, 2011 - 3:21 pm | Visit Link

Completely agree with Fletchers post. This article is confusing and presents an uneducated comparison of two systems that are effectively trying to achieve the same goal. Read the beginning of Charlies post, right now I could say it almost sums up how I feel about this subject.

Calum Yuill wrote on April 28, 2011 - 1:33 pm | Visit Link

BPI has many elements like Six sigma and TQM but these both has their own way to enhance the end result. TQM is more consumer feedback base methodology and Six sigma is participating in entire process from Define to Control.

vision raval wrote on January 31, 2012 - 5:57 am | Visit Link

TQM is universal. Six Sigma was an attempt by America USA to bring something new. A turn coat of some sort. I believe if you practice TQM properly then you will get all what the author is saying about 6 sigma. Remember 6 sigma comes from the Histogram-a tool of TQM and a long time tool of operations management/QC/QA.
DMAIC is PDCA –if you really know what is PDCA–then the need for DMAIC is minimal–it like Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola. Or drinking the various varieties of bottled water.
I will still vote for TQM with some adjustments to fit modern business occurrences.
King Menelik-Nairobi Kenya

King Menelik wrote on April 21, 2012 - 4:18 am | Visit Link

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