3 Management Strategies to drive more value in your business



The competition is fierce, and customers demand more than ever before.

If you need help to keep up with your competitors or you are trying to stay ahead of them, keep reading because today, I want to reinforce the importance of quality and its role in delivering value and giving an overview of 3 different management strategies widely used in manufacturing but applicable to any industry.

These 3 management strategies are:

  1. Total Quality Management (TQM): TQM is a comprehensive approach to quality management that involves all employees in continuously improving processes, products, and services. It emphasizes the importance of customer satisfaction, employee involvement, and data-driven decision-making.
  1. Six Sigma: Six Sigma is a data-driven management methodology that aims to eliminate defects and reduce process variability. It utilizes statistical analysis to measure and improve process performance and reduce waste.
  1. Lean: Lean manufacturing is a strategy that focuses on eliminating waste and increasing efficiency in the production process. It emphasizes the importance of continuous improvement, just-in-time management, and employee involvement. 

These are just some of the options available. My objective is to give you an insight into what’s possible and available to companies in any industry. 

I hope it’s helpful to you.

History, examples, and 10 simple steps to implement Total Quality Management(TQM)


Total Quality Management (TQM) is a comprehensive and structured approach to organizational management that seeks to continuously improve the quality of products, services, and processes.

It is not just a set of tools and techniques but a philosophy and culture the entire organization embraces. 

This management approach has been successfully implemented in various industries worldwide, significantly improving quality, efficiency, and customer satisfaction.

The origins of TQM can go back to the 50s and 60s when American manufacturers such as Deming, Juran, and Crosby began promoting the principles of quality control and continuous improvement. 

These early quality gurus developed the core principles of TQM, which include a focus on customer needs and expectations, employee involvement, process-centered management, and a systems approach to organizational leadership.

TQM examples in an organization

An example of TQM implementation that comes to my mind is the case of Toyota.

The Japanese automaker has long been known for focusing on quality and continuous improvement. 

Toyota’s TQM program, the Toyota Production System (TPS), is based on just-in-time inventory management, total employee involvement, and kaizen (continuous improvement). 

I plan to write about specific tools in future posts but bear with me till that happens!

TPS has been widely adopted by other manufacturers worldwide and has been credited with helping Toyota become one of the world’s most successful and profitable automakers.

I have to say, when I have worked with other automakers, I have never seen a company execute as well as Toyota TQM.

When I was working closely with Jaguar Land Rover, they had the foundation of TQM in place, but their execution needed to be improved, especially around product launches. 

They would launch a vehicle on the scheduled date instead of when it was ready! Which led to warranty issues and customer dissatisfaction. 

Always put yourself in the customers’ shoes!

The service industry has also benefited from the implementation of TQM principles. For example, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, which operates luxury hotels worldwide, has implemented TQM principles to improve the quality of guest services and reduce costs. 

In my research, I came across this thesis highlighting the critical success factors for successful implementation in the hospitality industry. It’s worth a look if you are in that sector!

It’s important to note that TQM is not a one-time event but a continuous journey toward excellence. 

It requires a long-term commitment and all employees’ involvement to succeed

10 steps to successfully implement TQM in your organization

  1. Develop a clear understanding of TQM: Understand the principles and concepts of TQM and how it can benefit the organization. Many bibliographies exist, but the thesis above is a good starting point.
  1. Establish a TQM team: Form a group of employees from different departments to lead the TQM implementation process. I would involve cleaners and senior management if I worked in a hotel. If I work on an engineering project, I want to involve human resources. I always have somebody that asks what nobody is willing to ask about what you’re trying to accomplish.
  1. Define the customer: Identify the target customers and understand their needs and expectations. I like to think of this as the avatar. Only some customers are the right customer, especially if you want to get more sales.
  2. Define the processes: Identify the key processes in the organization and map them out to identify areas for improvement. Ideally, you would want to carry out a Value-stream-map which is a tool used in six sigma (I promise I will make a post about how to carry a value-stream-map in the future)
  1. Implement process control: Define Key Performance Indicators for the processes that need improvement. I like to set the baseline based on past performance or the most accurate data available.
  1. Encourage employee involvement: Empower and encourage employees to participate in the improvement process. As I said before, you need to create a team to implement it, but those members are the champions of TQM, and they should encourage more team members to join the movement.
  1. Implement continuous improvement: Implement a continuous improvement process, such as Kaizen, to identify and eliminate sources of waste and variation. Or you can keep reading to learn more about Lean in the section below.
  1. Communicate and educate: Communicate the TQM program to all employees and provide training to ensure everyone understands their role and how to contribute to the program. As the saying goes, “What if I train my employees and they decide to leave? Well, what if you never train them and they never leave?”. When I talk about this, I like to present it as the commitment from above to empower people.
  1. Monitor progress: Once you have implemented the project’s core, ensure there are management reviews around the processes you are trying to change. 
  1. Sustain the program: Keep the momentum going by continuously monitoring, reviewing, and improving the program. You don’t win TQM. It’s a never-ending goal and requires commitment from everybody.

History, examples, and 9 simple steps to implement Lean in an organization


If I go by the book, Lean is a methodology that focuses on eliminating waste and improving efficiency in processes, with the ultimate goal of delivering value to the customer

At its core, Lean is about creating more value with less work, resources, time, and effort. 

In my experience, lean has some negative connotations. Most words are cut, reduce, minimize, less, etc.

I read on the internet people consider restructuring a lean effort when in reality, it’s just a mean effort, as in many cases, it is just a short-term fix to make the Profit & Loss statement look good.

I like to think about lean in favorable terms like add value, increase effectiveness, increase output, and so on…

Lean examples in an organization

One of the first examples that come to my mind is General Electric (GE). 

Betsy Bingham, GE Aviation’s vice president, said, “Lean is our strategy, Lean is how we are going to run our business. It’s key to our growth.” This extract is from an article published by GE in 2021.

Read this, in 2017, they turned the most powerful jet engine available into a power plant that could generate electricity for thousands of people.

This is where it gets interesting. Using Lean management, they reduced the cost of 4 parts for this jet engine by 35% in just 10 months throughout COVID!

You can read more about this exciting feat in the article above.

Another example that comes to mind is McDonald’s!

Yes, you heard right. McDonald’s is a clear example of lean management.

The McDonald brothers refurbished their restaurant in 1948 and made it the first walk-up hamburger stand that served chips, burgers, and so on…

They ditched the dining area, took orders, and served food through a counter, minimizing the required service staff.

They designed the kitchen layout to simulate an assembly line, leading to higher productivity as it took away extra steps and allowed their kitchen staff to focus on 1 thing only.

They reduced the menu, so the cost of their supply chain was minimized by the larger orders placed for the same items, leading to a lower-cost menu.

You know the story after that, McDonald’s is one of the biggest food chains in the world and a clear example of how lean can benefit your organization.

I hope these examples demonstrate the Lean principles can be applied to various industries and lead to significant results when implemented correctly. 

9 steps to implement Lean in an organization

  1. Identify the value: The first step is identifying the organization’s value to its customers. It involves understanding the needs and preferences of customers and identifying the products or services that meet those needs. I mentioned the same with TQM. If you don’t know what value your company offers, you can’t implement Lean.
  2. Map the value stream: Once you know what the value is, map the entire value stream of the organization. This includes all the activities and processes involved in delivering the value to the customer. 
  3. Identify and eliminate waste: Use the value stream to identify and eliminate any non-value-adding activities. This can include excess inventory, waiting times, defects, and unnecessary processing steps. Just so you know, in the digital era we live in, printing documents should be banned, I say that a lot.
  4. Establish flow: Create a smooth workflow by organizing the value-adding activities in the most efficient sequence. This involves minimizing delays, minimizing changeovers, and optimizing the use of resources. 
  5. Create pull: Establish a pull system allowing customer demand to drive production. This ensures that the organization produces only what the customer needs and when it needs it. 
  1. Implement just-in-time (JIT) production: JIT is a strategy that aims to minimize inventory levels by producing items only when needed. Implementing JIT can help to reduce waste and improve efficiency. If you are in the service industry, I think this is not overserving the customer. If you agree to provide X service, ensure you only produce that.
  1. Create a visual workplace: Implement a visual management system that allows everyone in the organization to see the current status of the production process. This helps to identify problems quickly and enables everyone to work towards continuous improvement. I like to use Trello for quick and dirty day-to-day activities until something more robust is in place.
  2. Empower employees: Empower employees to take ownership of the process and to identify and solve problems. I like to apply what is called decentralized command, which is something that I learned from Jocko Willink
  1. Continuously improve: Establish a continuous improvement process that encourages employees to identify and solve problems and to continuously improve the value delivery. I want everybody to challenge the status quo and go back to first principles to ensure a better service.

In summary, lean manufacturing principles can be applied to marketing to streamline processes, reduce waste, and improve overall effectiveness. By adopting a process-driven approach to marketing, businesses can optimize their marketing efforts and deliver better results.

History, examples, and 6 simple steps to implement six sigma in an organization


Six Sigma was developed by two engineers, Bill Smith and Mikel Harry, in 1987, who at the time worked for Motorola.

Motorola was struggling with quality issues and had to stop the amount of money spent on returns and customer concerns.

Bill and Mikel, started working together to develop what’s known today as 4 of the 5 phases of DMAIC: Measure, Analyze, Improve, and control.

Which they used to put at bay a large proportion of the quality issues they were having.

All this work paid off, and they developed the systems and statistics behind the problem-solving methodology. 

They took their findings and systems to the CEO at the time, Bob Galvin, and he recognized how revolutionary this approach was and used it to set the quality strategy going forward.

It took 15 years for Motorola to reach the “Six Sigma” level of 3.4 defects per million opportunities.

Six Sigma comes from the number of standard deviations to reach the 3.4 defects per million in a normal distribution, as shown in the picture below.

What the graph shows is that if your process variation is within 6 standard deviations of the mean, there will only be 3.4 errors in your process in a million opportunities.

Six Sigma examples in an organization

I mentioned Six Sigma was born in Motorola, so that would be an easy example. 

But, I would rather give you a much more recent and big example of how Six Sigma is applied in the field.

Amazon is the number one logistics company in the world. Their way of handling the item distribution from warehouse to end customer is unmatchable. 

Amazon uses Six Sigma to optimize its inventory management process and minimize costs. They use statistical analysis to predict demand and adjust the levels automatically.

To do something at this level, you must push Six Sigma onto Machine Learning to use factors like sales history, seasonality, and customer demand patterns.

They also use machine learning to identify bottlenecks in the delivery process. Their algorithms allow them to optimize delivery routes and predict delivery times.

They get better and better with time, and if you order something on Amazon right now, they will notify you when your items will be delivered.

Crazy, right?

Then watch this space because the next level in delivery systems is using drones. Be ready to order something and receive it in as little as 15 minutes…

6 Steps to implement Six Sigma in an organization

  1. Define the problem: This is different than the previous two. Six Sigma specializes in tackling problems head-on. The problem must be clearly defined to highlight what is in scope and what isn’t.
  2. Measure the process: Collect data and measure the process to identify areas of variation and waste. Common with Lean but more focused on the statistical side of the equation.
  3. Analyze the data: Analyze the data to identify the root cause of the problem. I like numbers and data. I base all my decisions on data, and these days, you probably don’t even need to be too good at it if you use AI.
  4. Improve the process: Develop and implement solutions to address the root cause of the problem. If we have a problem clearly defined and enough data to create evidence about the issue, we need to be able to identify the root of the problem and improve the process.
  5. Control the process: Establish measures to ensure the process remains stable and the improvements are sustained. I always ask, “we have managed to fix the issue, but how are we going to ensure it doesn’t happen again?
  6. Continuously improve: Establish a culture of continuous improvement by regularly reviewing and improving the process. With new technology appears new opportunities, what was good 10 years ago could be slow today. Keep an eye out for new and better ways to operate.

Before you go…

I want to address something a lot of people might be wondering…

You mention Six Sigma and Lean as 2 different methodologies. Are they not the same?

Six Sigma and Lean are separate methodologies, although they share some similarities and are often used together to achieve operational excellence.

As I explained, Six Sigma is a data-driven methodology that seeks to reduce process variation and defects by using statistical analysis and structured problem-solving methodologies. 

It focuses on measuring and improving the quality of processes, products, and services and aims to achieve a level of performance that meets or exceeds customer expectations.

Lean, on the other hand, is a methodology that seeks to identify and eliminate waste in processes to maximize value for customers. 

Lean focuses on creating value by continuously improving processes, reducing waste, and increasing efficiency. 

The combination of Six Sigma and Lean is often called “Lean Six Sigma” (very creative, I know), which combines the focus on waste reduction from Lean with the statistical analysis and structured problem-solving methodologies from Six Sigma. 

I hope you enjoyed reading this article, if you want to know more about other areas of the operational world check this out:

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