Total Quality Management

Total Quality Management or TQM is a philosophy that focuses on constant quality improvement whether of processes or products in organization. Have you seen companies that constantly innovate and find various ways to become more productive, efficient and effective? And have you compared those companies with those producing the same product for decades without changing or improving anything? In a constantly changing business environment, with competition coming from left, right, and center, companies that choose to innovate and improve quality of the products and services succeed.

TQM is a system that involves the integration of the organizational environment, continuous improvement, and employee participation.

The model of TQM begun in the USA, but thrived in Japan after the Second World War. Japan applied it in the manufacturing industries. As a result Japan have earned the reputation for being a manufacturer of the most quality products. Japan also has successfully implemented this concept in the public service sector. Thus their citizens are getting quality service from the government.

TQM creates a positive environment in the organization where the whole organization, from top to bottom becomes concerned for ensuring the quality of services and products. TQM can be implemented at any type of organization from kindergarten to government organizations. TQM is a unique approach based on the environment and the culture of the organization.

Organizational culture is a set of values and beliefs shared by members of the organization. (Brown, 1994) Among the effective keys for success are organizational designs that permit continuous improvements in their business processes. A company applying TQM and implementing continuous improvement demonstrates the basic central principle of total customer satisfaction. TQM integrates quality in all departments throughout the organization.

How to implement TQM?

Learning strategies needed for successful change, include educational programs for employees and specialized training. (Baldwin, 1997). In today’s contemporary business environment it is vital for organizations to integrate the complexities of a learning organization philosophy. It has proved effective at manufacturing plans of Ford and Harley Davidson.

The old way is the best way is the opposite philosophy to TQM, continuous improvement and innovation are considered to be the life-blood of many companies and people in them. The organization that stands still will not survive in todays economy.

The implementation of TQM requires thinkers and doers work together and needs creativity, collaborative thinking, strong leadership, and the ability to get things done. (Kofman, 1993).

Baldwin, T., Danielson, C., Wiggenhorn, W.(1997). The evolution of learning strategies in organizations: from employee development to business redefinition. The Academy of Management Executive.

Brown, A., Starkey, K. (1994).The effect of organizational culture on communication and information. Journal of Management Studies. Vol. 31 No. 6.

Kofman, F., Senge, P. (1993). Communities of commitment: the heart of learning organizations. Organizational Dynamics. Vol. 22 No. 2.

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Boundaryless Orgnization

Organizations, by definition, are entities with boundaries. External boundaries separate a company from its suppliers and customers and define its geographic reach. Internal boundaries separate the departments between each other, management from employees. Such lines of differentiation have been necessary. Different departments in the organization work towards the common goal the overall success of the business.

However, companies that thrive within the new environment of global competition, rapidly changing technologies, and shifting markets are characterized by not having many boundaries. The new model of success is defined as “boundaryless” organization, a term created by Jack Welch during his term as CEO of GE. The borders, along vertical, horizontal, external, and geographic dimensions allow for an easy flow of information and ideas in all parts of the organization. The examples of boundaryless organizations would be Boing, and Apple, both of the companies try to remove hierarchy to empower employees and teams. 

In boundaryless hierarchies, employees are empowered to make decisions; therefore decisions are made by people closest to the root of the problem and who have to live with the consequences. Empowering and giving authority to employees allows to have the shortest time between decision and implementation.

The goal in a boundaryless organization is to develop greater flexibility and responsiveness to change and to enable the free exchange of information and ideas. It is made up of selfmanaging and crossfunctional teams that are organized around core business processes. The teams include employees from different functional areas as well as customers and suppliers.

Boundaryless organizations are able to achieve greater integration and coordination. It shows in integration of resources and human capital. They are able to adapt to environmental and technological changes faster.

The biggest change has been from having direct control over resources required for performance toward dependence on others over whom there is no direct control. Under new structures with more dependence, managers are still responsible for company performance. For a manager who is used to a traditional hierarchical approach, it’s hard to adjust and transfer control over to emloyees. Peter Drucker, renowned ‘business thinker’, once noted that the problem with large company managers is that they are used to giving orders and not to working as a team.

Aftereall, companies have to decide what structure would benefit their business. Not all the companies would respond well to the boundaryless organization. For example, organizations that operate under a lot internal control, power and ranks, would not respond well to boundaryless organization structure.

Works Cited:

Anand, N., & Daft, R. L. (2007). What is the right organization design? Organizational Dynamics, , 329–344.

Ashkenas, R. (1999). Creating the boundaryless organization, Business Horizons, Volume 42, Issue 5, September–October 1999,

Ashkenas, R., Ulrich, D., Jick, T., & Kerr, S. (1995). The Boundaryless organization: Breaking the chains of organizational structure. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Decision Making: Availability Bias

Great decision makers are highly valued in every field of work. To make decisions you have to possess a certain level of knowledge, take on the responsibility for the outcomes, and be able to act fast.

Some of us lack a certain skills therefore making decisions in daily life is more difficult for some people than others. I have recently taken a class called Applied Decision Analysis. The course depicts different qualitative methods that businesses could use to make forecasts, decisions, and predictions based on the past available data. Based on available tools in Excel, you can calculate the error involved in making a particular decision, and you can calculate a certain relationship between different sets of data.

However, when the data is limited and you have to make a decision based on your own judgment and experience even the most objective decisions can be affected by biases.

In this blog I would like to focus my attention on a particular phenomenon called Availability Heuristic, which is also known as Availability Bias. 

Would you agree with me that as human beings, when making decisions we often take into consideration our past experience, even when it is hardly relevant to our present and future. Moreover, we are subject to several external influences and may vary our behaviour as a function of our concurrent feelings and opinions. As a result, our decisions and, therefore, our actions are not often rational.

If you don’t agree with me read further, if you do read further to find out more.

I tend to believe that unpleasant memories fade. Looking back at my childhood, I remember mostly the carefree time, fun summers, and all the great moments with family and friends. I don’t remember many negative memories about my childhood. This particular mind-trick is called Availability Heuristic.

The availability heuristic refers to people’s tendency to determine the probability of an event according to how easy it is to recall similar examples and, instead of analyzing all available data, making a decision based on memory.

Possibilities that are easier to remember will be perceived as being more likely than those that are harder to picture or difficult to understand. Availability heuristic influences more of our decisions. You can encounter it in politics, finance industry, even at a doctor’s office. When someone makes a choice after a recent plane crash news to drive instead of taking a plane is a decision based on Availability Heuristic bias.

Tversky and Kahneman established that people give more weight to examples that are easier to recall or imagine as events that are more likely to occur in the future. (Trvesky, 1974)

An important first step in overcoming those biases is being aware that decisions can be biased. Scientific studies have shown that people with certain personality traits are prone to the availability bias. Schwarz found that people who have great faith in intuition and people who feel powerful tend to be affected more strongly by how easy it is to retrieve memories than by the content they retrieve. (Sanna, 2003)

Topics of biases are extremely interesting and go deep into human psychology. I am looking forward to the discussion on this topic.

 

Folkes, V. (1988). The Availability Heuristic and Perceived Risk. Journal of Consumer Research. Vol. 15, pp. 13-23

Kliger, D., & Kudryavtsev, A. (2010). The Availability Heuristic and Investors’ Reaction to Company-Specific Events. Journal Of Behavioral Finance11(1), 50-65.

Sanna, L., Schwarz, N. (2003) Debiasing the hindsight bias: The role of accessibility experiences and (mis)attributions. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Vol 39, 3, (287-295).
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103102005280

Tversky, A. and Kahneman, D. (1974) Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases. Science.

8 Key Factors of an Effective Team

Groups and teams have become an essential component of an organization’s success in today’s economy. Being able to work in a group is a key skill for managers and employees alike.

The definition of a team is: “a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and an approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.” (Katzenbach, 1993)

Turning a group of people with different backgrounds into a team is one of the biggest challenges workplaces face. Often we find ourselves part of groups of individuals with diverse backgrounds and points of view working on complex projects. We don’t always get to pick the team we are in; we often have to accept teams and all of its differences. And while some thrive on teamwork, others find themselves suffocated by the different personalities in a team.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “No member of a crew is praised for the rugged individuality of his rowing.” Effective teams maximize and flourish on the strengths and diversity of its members. (Maeliea, 2005)

I work as part of a team and know how important it is to have a positive team environment where everyone respects and treats each other with dignity. Our performance is measured individually however all 14 of us understand how important it is to have each other’s back. After a while of working in a team, you get really close to people and feel like you are part of a family. Relationships in a team are not always perfect and workplaces have to learn on how to build strong teams.
But how would you build an effective team? I would like to focus this blog post on the key factors that determine an effective team. After an extensive research, I have determined 8 key factors that would help build a strong team.

  1. Respect is important on any team. It is needed to build loyalty and mutual trust. A team leader can reinforce respect by taking others’ input regarding decisions that may affect the team.
  2. Unity. Common goal, vision, purpose. Teams that work towards the same goal and have the same work ethics would succeed. Have you ever found yourself as part of team where your goal was to put the maximum effort in your project, but your teammates did not share the same enthusiasm. The team lacked unity, therefore you were stuck doing most of the work. That is example of an ineffective team.
  3. Trust. It is very hard to build trust of others. If people encouraged to be honest and have each other’s back, that would build trust in a team. On my own experience I can say once someone broke your trust, it is very hard to rebuild it. However, the management practice should be to build unity in a team, and trust would follow.
  4. Shared leadership. In a team there is no place for one dominating leader. Leadership roles should be shared between members based on the expertise and team needs. In my previous class, the professor changed different team leader every weak, and I can say it was very effective because the team would benefit by getting different feedback from every leader.
  5. Open communication. Based on my own experience, I have been in teams where members chose to gossip and talk behind backs. This behavior would undermine the trust, respect and other important aspects of an effective team building. Management’s role should be to facilitate group meetings in case of a conflict and encourage open communication between group members.
  6. Complimentary skills. The strongest teams are the teams with diverse skill sets. Often people with the same professional backgrounds think alike. In an effective team brainstorming sessions are more productive when everyone brings something different to the table while developing the same idea.
  7. Strong relationship. According to BusinessWeek, Google invests into movie nights, restaurants on premises with top chefs because they care for their employees and because they want to build a team environment outside of the work projects. By bringing team members together, the company can ensure the strong relationships and collaborative teams.
  8. Constructive conflict. Open communication, as mentions in my earlier point, is essential in case of any arising conflicts; the lack of trust and respect in teams lead to personal disagreements. For the teams to have a clear and timely conflict resolution, team members are encouraged to openly discuss any conflicts.

Companies that require a lot of teamwork need to invest into building strong and effective teams that would help to eliminate disadvantages of team work such as group think, star complexes, wallflowers, and maintain positive work environment.

Looking forward to your comments!

References:

Conant, D. (2012). Building Effective Teams Isn’t Rocket Science, But It’s Just as Hard. Harvard Business Review. 
http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/04/consistently_building_highly_e.html

Davies, N. (2009). Build and Effective Team. Nursing Standard23(29), 72.

Elgin, B. (2005). Managing Google’s Idea Factory. Bloomberg Businessweek. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_40/b3953093.htm

Katzenbach, J.R. & Smith, D.K. (1993). The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-performance Organization. Harvard Business School.

Mealiea, L., & Baltazar, R. (2005). A Strategic Guide for Building Effective Teams. Public Personnel Management.

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation

My previous post was about motivation. Motivation is what keeps us going, learning, achieving, and creating. I have talked about incentives and how they motivate our behaviours. Incentive fall under the extrinsic type of motivators. This blog will focus on the intrinsic motivators and the Cognitive Evaluation Theory.

Have you ever felt that after you were given a project or goal that in your mind was unachievable? Were you jumping on it with excitement and readiness? Or were you taking your time and felt demotivated by it?

I work in sales and my performance at work is measured by sales goals I achieve. I have noticed a pattern, after I am given a sales goal that falls above my comfort level and seems absolutely unachievable, feeling of discouragement and the need of more time to get started comes in. When you are given an unreachable goal, you do not try as hard as you can. I give up before I start trying.

On the other hand, when my goal is pushing the limit however in my mind is within reach, I push the hardest I can, put in a lot of overtime, and often exceed the goal. The end result is better when the goal is reachable.

I have noticed that with children as well. I have a little brother who is 8 years old; watching him grow was an amazing experience, and as a much older sister I have tried teaching him things of course. My brother loves to read, he is one of those kids that have a flash light under the pillow, and instead of going to bed, he reads. However I noticed that when I ask him to read to me, he refuses.

There is a theory behind this behaviour. Its called the Cognitive Evaluation Theory. This theory argues that extrinsic rewards decrease the intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic rewards in this case could be a variety of things like monetary reward, tokens, prizes, awards, avoidance of punishment, however other extrinsic factors could have the same effect; competition, evaluation, deadlines, goal imposition are other extrinsic factors that would influence the same effect on intrinsic motivation. (Ryan, 739) If you already love what you are doing and get a lot of enjoyment out of it, and someone starts paying you for doing the same activity, then takes that incentive away, your intrinsic motivation decreases from doing the same activity.

Do not get me wrong, making a lot of money is very satisfying and enjoyable, however it does not make an activity intrinsically enjoyable, it just makes it extrinsically gratifying.

But how exactly would a company be able to increase intrinsic motivators? Kenneth Thomas analyzes how modern workplaces could increase intrinsic motivators.

A lot of tech companies like Google offer their employees time to work on their own projects. Google realized that people prefer to work on challenging activities when they are free to do so, not when they are told or asked for it.

Creative jobs are based on intrinsic motivation. External factors like time, money and pressure to get the job done only interfere with the creative minds. Performing a creative job, employees should be free to take risk. If an employee feels a great deal of pressure, the risk taking and creativity in the workplace would decrease. According to Fast CompanyTime pressure stifles creativity because people can’t deeply engage with the problem. Creativity requires an incubation period; people need time to soak in a problem and let the ideas bubble up.” 

Managers should recognize and evaluate the reward structures is order to keep employees motivated and driven. In some jobs, the existence of extrinsic rewards could decrease productivity and creativity of employees.

Therefore, employers should focus on promoting the intrinsic motivators by giving employees flexibility, challenging projects, and team building.

To conclude my research, the intrinsic rewards create a win-win form of motivation for both the business and the employees. This type of motivation is facilitates the desire to offer an effective contribution to the business. Because these rewards are performance driven, they embody the self-management and professional development demanded by younger workers in today’s economy. Intrinsic rewards are feasible when money is an issue, since they do not depend on money to generate extra effort. Moreover, intrinsic rewards do not need micromanagement, virtual work and telecommuting flourish under this type of motivation.

References:

Breen, B. (2004). The 6 Myths of Creativity. Fast Company. http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/89/creativity.html?page=0%2C1

Gagné, M., Deci, E. (2005). Self-Determination Theory and Work Motivation. Journal of Organizational Behaviour, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 331-362

Ryan, R. M., Mims, V., & Koestner, R. (1983). Relation of reward contingency and interpersonal context to intrinsic motivation: A review and test using cognitive evaluation theory. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology

Thoms, K. (2009). The Four Intrinsic Rewards that Drive Employee Engagement. Ivey Business Journal. http://www.iveybusinessjournal.com/topics/the-workplace/the-four-intrinsic-rewards-that-drive-employee-engagement

Is it all about the money?

There is a dual opinion about what motivates people in the workplace. One side believes its all about the money, the other side believes that job satisfaction and involvement in the firm’s decision-making is what really motivates an employee to work hard.

I strongly believe that motivation in the workplace is all about employing the right incentives. I work in a commission based environment, and believe that my performance is recognized every month, and I get a salary equivalent to the effort I have put in. Every day on my job I ask myself a question: “What do I need to do today to accomplish my goal?” However, not everyone thinks creating competition among workers and encouraging incentives driven environment would benefit the employer and employees alike.

According to prior management studies, participation in decision making can fulfill people’s higher-order needs, which including self-expression, respect, and value. When those needs are met, employees develop a perception of being valued by the employer; as a result, it increases their work place satisfaction and strengthens their intrinsic motivation to work hard. Intrinsic motivation moves individual to work out of fun, or challenge he or she faces, not including the external factors like paychecks, bonuses, and commission.

In 1997, Frey introduced the existence of incentives and that people face different incentives that might crowd out our intrinsic motivation. He believes that all people are selfish and need to have a personal benefit from the act of giving.

Therefore, the article written by Payscale.com on different types of motivational theories suggests that:

  • You can’t motivate people.
  • You can provide an environment where people motivate themselves.
  • Apply what you know about people’s styles to strengthen their individual work “environment.”
  • And keep focus on intrinsic motivation factors. Which means: Build strong work relationships and expand them.

What is the thing that motivates you in your workplace???

See ya,

~A

References:

Jennings, S. (2009). Different types of motivation theories. Payscale. http://blogs.payscale.com/compensation/2009/07/different-types-of-motivation-theories.html

Kyriacou, A. P. (2010). Intrinsic Motivation and the Logic of Collective Action: The Impact of Selective Incentives. American Journal Of Economics & Sociology69(2), 823-839.

Kuang, X., Moser, D. V. (2011). Wage Negotiation, Employee Effort, and Firm Profit under Output-Based versus Fixed-Wage Incentive Contracts. Contemporary Accounting Research.

What is your Klout score?

Klout is social influence measuring tool that determines based on a variety of factors how influential you are in your network.
I have recently discovered Klout for myself. After adding all the social networks I am part of, my score is only 26. According to Klout I am a Conversationalist.
Klout is an interesting analytical platform that works with your current network; based on how many people you interact with online, Klout measures your True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score.
The final Klout Score is a representation of how successful a person is at engaging their audience and how big of an impact their messages have on people.
More and more employers look at the Klout scores of the potential employees.

It is an interesting analytical tool and I will be looking forward to its growth. Also will be interesting to find out of someone ever tweaked their score and cheated on Klout.

You can watch a video on Klout here:

Social Media and ROI

We all have asked that question: How can we measure the effectiveness of Social Media?

This topic is one of the most important for companies hiring social media experts because revenues from Social media should justify the expenses of hiring. How do companies calculate the numbers since social media is a platform mostly for customer engagement and relationship building?

Before creating a social media campaign (opening Twitter account, Facebook account, creating company’s blog) you should define the desired outcome and goal of the campaign. It could be both qualitative and quantitative. For example: increase number of sales leads, increase traffic to the website, customer engagement, number of followers, higher quality of customer service. If the campaign resulted in cost reduction of hiring new customer service staff, because customers use twitter account as a point of contact, this should be accounted for.

Based on the goals setting, the company can monitor changes and progress every week. And refine its goals and objectives.

However, increased sales are not the only benefit of social media. Building a strong relationships with community and potential customers is the most important benefit. Companies should look at it as a long-term investment, the results of increased sales will increase over time with the use of the right social media platforms.

See ya,

~A

Holt Renfrew launches Muse

Fashion community is something that fascinates me. I follow Elin Kling, Garance Dore, Style.com and its bloggers. And what unites these blogs is the ability of fashion and photography to transform a moment making it timeless.

Many fashion companies have blogs already. Blogging is becoming an essential platform of sharing day-to-day activities and news with readers aka potential customers. Sharing behind the scenes, introducing customers to people behind a brand, blog creates a more personable experience for the customer.

Holt Renfrew being a leader in luxury retail in Canada has launched its first blog, Holt’s Muse. From fashion to beauty, Muse is all about the latest trends and events. The blog is very fresh. What I found interesting is the section of Holts buyer sharing her buying trip experience and a little sneak peak into SS’12, Head office employees showing how to wear Equipment blouse 5 different ways.

The blog has a lot of potential and hopefully we will see each city with its own section. Holts definitely has a lot to talk about!

Looking forward to reading you, MUSE.

http://www.holtsmuse.com/

How to land a Social Media gig?

A lot of people might find that Social Media is a fairly new industry that not a lot of companies have experienced to its full potential. Tapping into social media platforms might result a lot of success for companies as well might result in a lot of headache based on the time and commitment requirements.

Some companies started realizing that blogging, facebook updates, twitter account management and so on will take a lot of time from their regular marketing routines, and some started investing in Social Media Experts that only engage with community of followers and create a brand awareness online.

These positions are very limited and very rare to find, most of them would be contracts and not full-time careers.

However, the market for these jobs is changing and for young professionals is a great time to enter the market get experience and start looking for jobs that would involve a lot of Social Marketing skills.

I have been fortunate to attend a great speech given by Keith Quon that gave a great perspective of what to expect in this fairly new market place and how to get ready to land a great job.

First of all, building an online presence for your own brand and creating a portfolio of previous work is really important since the potential employer will be looking for what you have to offer. Building a brand that great, that means that anything that you do would be looked at, so do it in style. That means having an engaging content and building a network of followers and connecting with them would be essential.

Any clients that you would be building social media presence for, ask for referral. That way when the big day of the interview comes you will have people behind your work that could support your candidacy.

Another great idea that I took home was watch kids – they create trends, they really drive the direction of social media. Always looking for different ideas I never thought it would be so close to home since I myself have a 7-year old brother, now I would be watching him more closely;)

Before this class a thought of video resume brought to mind the one of Barney Stinson. Never thought building a video resume would help secure a job, after the presentation I Youtubed some resumes, and I got an idea what it really is. Some were pretty cheesy and some were very impressive.

The presentation was very interesting and I learned a great deal form it! Hope my short recap of what I have learned would be helpful to you.

Ok, I have to go and work on my writing skills now.

See ya,

~A