People make quality — Total Quality Management (TQM)


When management seeks productivity improvement, initial thoughts often turn to new technology, new designs, new tools or equipment. 


However, managers often fail to recognise what can be an untapped potential of productivity improvement — a supportive and committed work force. 


An organisation’s competitive capability depends on the quality and culture of its work force, both management and labour. 


Imagine a building organisation where every person: 

identifi es problems, opportunities, waste and ineffi ciency, and is intrinsically motivated, 

works at breaking down barriers, 

is innovative, creative and more enterprising, 

• takes pride in work and in their company, 

• is involved in continually improving work processes, 

• understands the needs and importance of his/ her customer, 

• seeks to copy/replicate good ideas, 

• understands that he/she is personally responsible for quality, 

• understands that discipline must be self imposed, and 

• understands the importance of networking and teamwork. 


Those companies that subscribe to the values of quality assurance have an assured market lead. Through quality assurance, these companies will ensure they consistently offer a quality product and quality services at a lower cost. They will be market leaders and will survive in tough times against increasing competition. 


When effectively applied in the construction industry, the principles of quality assurance will mean less “buffer” or “fl oat” time is allowed in project plans which, in turn, reduces the length of projects. David Hazlett sums up the principles of quality well in a recent construction publication. 


When referring to a fi fth generation carpenter he had employed in London who went on to win a gold medal at the Skill Olympics, Mr Hazlett commented: “It was my fi rst exposure to perfection of skill. It set me off on a different level of perfection … focusing on absolute quality and knowing how to get it. 


“Unless you have been exposed to perfection, its very easy not to know it exists, or think that good enough is okay. If the ideal is to have a 2mm gap around every opening, then that sets the standard, not 1mm or 4mm. “Once you set the standard it makes everybody conscious of what they are doing … they might not always get there, but that’s what they strive for, to achieve the standard you have set.” 


This is the level of quality that all people in the construction sector should strive for on a daily basis in order to ensure quality work is achieved in all aspects of the industry.

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