Resources - Quality Systems

Total Quality Management Glossary

Aim. The purpose of a system, subsystem and process. The vital element of an organization that must be understood by all employees of the organization.

Common Cause. Any variation that is common to a process. When only common cause variation exists in a process, it is said to be stable, and predictions about the process can be made within a range of values.

Consensus. Agreement reached collectively by two or more persons with which everyone can abide though it might not be everyone’s first choice. This agreement does not involve concessions or compromise on anyone’s part.

Constancy of Purpose. The unflagging support needed for a quality culture, particularly by top management. The patience and persistence required over time to seek, to achieve, and to maintain a quality culture.

CPI. Continual Process Improvement. The everwatchful tenet of the Deming theory of management that epitomizes the desire for better and better quality. Does not connote a constant improvement in a process but a continual awareness of processes and their changing need for improvement. Usually takes place in steps.

Empowerment. The act of enabling employees to make decisions, or at least recommendations for changes, with regards to the processes on which they work. Pushing decision-making to the lowest possible level.

Infrastructure. The organizational structure from which a company functions. In a quality-centered company, this structure is keyed to quality, good communications, and decision-making at the lowest reasonable level.

Group Mind. The cumulative effect of good teamwork. This concept is an ideal that envisions a synergy of the best in knowledge, abilities, and attitudes of all team members into one powerful, collective mind.

Key Quality Characteristics. Those elements most critical to the function of a product or service as envisioned by the customer of the product or service. It is important that the producer and customer agree to operational definitions of these characteristics.

Linking Pin. On quality teams the representative from the next higher management level who serves as the communication link to the team to ensure open communication lines and to ensure upper management support for the team’s activities.

Optimization. Ensuring the system is as functional and effective as possible. This means the system’s aim is being achieved, even though portions of the system may not be performing at their best. This requires a systems view.

PDSA. Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle developed by Dr. Deming. It is the guide toward learning and improvement, a procedure to follow to monitor processes/systems and to make changes

Process. Any activity that takes an input, adds value, and produces an output. It always has a beginning and an end. Two or more processes make up a subsystem or a system.

Profound Knowledge. The philosophy espoused by Dr. Deming that centers on the theories of systems, variation, knowledge, and psychology—and their interrelationships.

Special Cause. Any variation that is caused from outside the process or that is not common cause. The existence of special cause variation in a process makes it an unstable process, and no reliable predictions about the process can be made.

Suboptimization. Said of a system that is not as functional and effective as it could be. Often characterized by internal competition or over-emphasized subsystems without regard to the aim of the system.

Subsystem. Comprised of two or more related processes, these units are the major parts of a system.

System. The whole organization, the company, that is the responsibility of top management. This is usually made up of two or more subsystems forming the whole.

Tasks. The steps in a process. The individual activities that make up the parts of any process.

Transformation. A change to a new paradigm of management (Deming). The necessary change to fully activate the quality-driven organization. It must be understood and desired by all members of the organization. It places the emphasis on the individual’s and the organization’s potential rather than on their past or present state.

Value-added Imperative. The requirement that every process add value to the input, which becomes the value-added product or service output of the process. If value is not added, consider abolishing the process.

Voice of the Customer. The distribution representing what the customers want. Management should seek to ensure that the voice of the process agrees with this distribution.

Voice of the Process. The distribution representing the output of the process. The control chart can be used to describe the voice of the process. Management should seek to close the gap between it and the voice of the customer.

Win-Win. The desired solution to problems and to company increased marketshare. In this scenario, there are no losers. Solutions or initiatives are sought that involve cooperation rather than competition.

Source: DoD Small Business Guidebook to Quality Management

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