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  • Writer's pictureArmin Honarasa

3M successfully implemented Total Quality Management, but what is TQM?

3M, also known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, is a multinational conglomerate corporation that operates in various industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, and consumer goods.

Total Quality Management (TQM) is an approach that focuses on continuous improvement, customer satisfaction, and employee involvement.

Economic globalization brings challenges and opportunities for all businesses across the world. Companies should be able to create conditions that support them both in the domestic and international markets. Both adopting and implementing a set of operations management practices was one of many ways to win the competition in the marketplace.

There are many management practices to help businesses overcome these challenges and Total Quality Management (TQM) has received great attention in the last two decades (Jung and Wang, 2006).

In the growing business competitiveness TQM (Total Quality Management) and TM (Technology Management) practices have become important for organisational success.

TQM fosters business excellence while TM helps to deal with process and product related technological challenges.*

Total Quality Management is a management philosophy that aims to enhance the quality of products, services, and processes within an organization.

It is based on the principle that quality should be the responsibility of every person involved in the production or delivery of a product or service, rather than just a specific department or team.

Here are some key elements commonly associated with TQM:

1. Customer Focus: TQM emphasizes understanding and meeting customer needs and expectations. By gathering feedback, conducting market research, and analyzing customer requirements, organizations can align their products and services to deliver maximum customer satisfaction.

2. Continuous Improvement: TQM promotes a culture of continuous improvement by seeking out opportunities to enhance processes, products, and services. This can be achieved through various methodologies such as Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing, and Kaizen, which focus on reducing defects, eliminating waste, and streamlining operations.

3. Employee Involvement: TQM recognizes that employees are valuable assets and encourages their active participation in quality improvement initiatives. Engaged and empowered employees are more likely to identify problems, suggest innovative solutions, and take ownership of quality outcomes.

4. Process Orientation: TQM emphasizes the importance of well-defined and efficient processes. By mapping, analyzing, and optimizing processes, organizations can identify bottlenecks, reduce variability, and improve overall productivity and quality.

5. Data-Driven Decision Making: TQM relies on data and facts to drive decision making. Organizations collect and analyze relevant data to identify trends, measure performance, and make informed decisions for process improvement.


Implementing TQM can bring several benefits to organizations like 3M, including:

1. Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: By focusing on meeting customer expectations, TQM can lead to improved product and service quality, resulting in higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.

2. Increased Efficiency and Productivity: TQM helps identify and eliminate waste, streamline processes, and improve overall operational efficiency. This can lead to cost savings, faster production cycles, and increased productivity.

3. Improved Employee Morale and Engagement: TQM fosters a culture of teamwork, employee empowerment, and involvement. When employees are actively engaged in quality improvement efforts, it can boost morale, motivation, and job satisfaction.

4. Better Decision Making: TQM emphasizes data-driven decision making, enabling organizations to make informed choices based on accurate information and analysis.

5. Competitive Advantage: By consistently delivering high-quality products and services, organizations can gain a competitive edge in the market and differentiate themselves from competitors.


The customer-focused organisation is an important part of continuous improvement and Total Quality Management (TQM). A TQM organisation consists of a number of interdependent internal stakeholders or customers.

These individuals, groups, departments and units supply to, and rely on, another individual, group, department or unit within that same organisation. These internal customers combine to improve quality throughout all processes and create better quality output for the end-users; the external customers.

3M is a great example of using TQM in order to enhance innovation and productivity.

This philosophy of 3M applies equally to internal customers, demonstrated through the interdependence of its 45 technology platforms and diverse global operations; as well as to external customers.

Each of the two broad categories of innovation applies to 3M.

1. Innovation in goods and services occurs when new and improved goods and services are developed or where new uses are found for existing goods or services.

2. Innovation in operational processes occurs when organisations implement signifcant positive change in their methods of production of goods and/or services. 3M describes the four fundamental reasons driving innovation as; personal satisfaction, competitiveness, growth and survival.

A primary focus of TQM and most Quality Management Systems is to improve customer satisfaction by having a customer focus and consistently meeting customer expectations. ... It emphasizes the need for your business to clearly communicate to the customers exactly what you will deliver to avoid misunderstandings.*

Designing and implementing Total Quality Management could be a long and costly process, however, it will pay off in long run if it set up and executed well.

For next step consider what sections of your organisation can integrate this system and how it benefit from it?

It's important to note that the specific implementation of TQM may vary across organizations, and 3M may have its own unique approach tailored to its business needs and industry.

For detailed and up-to-date information on 3M's utilization of TQM, I would recommend referring to their official website, annual reports, or other reliable sources.

For your free consulting session contact APIC Management Group

*Financial Review Case Studies; Innovation, ideas and solutions 3M

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