FRONTIERS BEYOND TQM AND REENGINEERING
Let's trace its evolution very briefly. There are many variations in explanations of the basic philosophy of TQM depending upon who is writing about it. Quality, unlike productivity, is such an open-ended concept that people define it differently, understand it differently, and therefore measure and improve it differently. Quality is like a wind. When it is blowing, you can feel it, but it is difficult to capture or measure. Productivity is always defined as the ratio of output to input, regardless of the nature of the output(s) and input(s). Quality is more elusive than productivity. We can describe the dimensions of quality but cannot seem to define it precisely, even for operational purposes. For example, in the early 1980s, companies in the United States and elsewhere were satisfied to define quality as conformance to valid requirements, but defining requirements is as much of a challenge as defining valid requirements. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, when quality was defined as meeting and/or exceeding customer expectations, the big questions were who our customers are and how their expectations can be identified.