The Asian Productivity Organization (APO) in collaboration with the National Training & Productivity Centre (NTPC) and the Fiji National University (FNU) conducted an intensive 5-day workshop-seminar for would-be trainers in Total Quality Management (TQM) from different countries. TQM used to be a tool for large manufacturing companies to manage processes for high quality, low defect output. However, it has been proven useful in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and even instrumental in post-war economic building in nations such as Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan. The problem is access and an even a basic of understanding of TQM have not penetrated in underdeveloped and developing economies, especially at the micro enterprise level. The objective of this training is to gather participants with trainer potential and acquaint them with the concepts and tools in TQM and become champions and mentors in their respective companies or organizations.
OBJECTIVES FOR PARTICIPATION
As explained during the Individual Action Plan (IAP) presentation at the conclusion of the training, I am familiar with TQM having finished a business degree and having dabbled with it as a Management Consultant for five years after my university education. However, when I transitioned to an entrepreneur as I took over the management of the hotel business of my family, theoretical applications and benefits of TQM become less apparent especially in the service industry. For one thing, benchmarks, data gathering, and measurement are very different in the hospitality and food service business. Being immersed in day-to-day operations and decision-making has also left me detached from current trends in TQM. My main objective, therefore, was to catch up on the latest advances in TQM and to learn from my fellow participants who I had presumed to be just as knowledgeable and experienced in business as me. I also wished to be inspired by others who have gone through a similar debacle and who have overcome hurdles in achieving TQM. I would also like to share my knowledge in TQM with the MSMEs in my locality in cooperation with my local chamber of commerce (of which I’m the first vice president) and the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) which has been instrumental in the rise of MSMEs in my province.
In all, there were about 30 participants, including the country representatives, organizers, resource speakers, and observers. Most of the participants were high level: business owners, managers, consultants, trainers, university instructors/professors, engineers, civil servants, etc. As for the Philippine contingent, there were two of us, the other being Virgin Mary Aquino-Nicolas of Tarlac. She is a proud owner of La Paz Foods which processes meats for distribution in various retail and business companies. She is a biologist by training but has also transitioned into entrepreneurship. Her husband is into construction.
SCOPE, CONTENT AND METHODOLOGY
The topics ranged from general introduction of TQM including its brief history (Mr Lizuan), seven TQM tools (Mr Surya), several TQM implementation models and standards (Mr Wong), case studies, and a site visit to Air Terminal Services (ATS) of Fiji to observe their TQM implementation. There were topics that covered training skills and methodologies as well as group activities and discussions (Mr Lizuan). Formal lecture was the main method of delivery, augmented by audiovisual presentations and short video clips. At the end of the training, all country representatives presented an Individual Action Plan (IAP) rather than a country paper although most participants were able to incorporate some semblance of a macroeconomic briefing in their reports, including the status of TQM implementation in their respective countries. The common denominator seems to be that TQM is mostly a preoccupation of the large companies, especially in manufacturing, while non-manufacturing companies tend to simply get themselves accredited with a quality standard certification (e.g., ISO). There is practically very little implementation of TQM at the micro enterprise scale. Ms Nicolas and I presented our IAP individually as we offer two separate plans with respect to our distinct industries.
OUTCOMES AND EVALUATION
I am definitely very grateful to have attended the training as it has inspired me to enforce and reinforce TQM principles in my company. I can sincerely say that my objectives have been met and that the resource speakers offered invaluable advice to everybody. I have especially learned from the discussions with my peers and will be touching base with them from time to time as a means to learn from each other in our pursuit to achieving total quality across all organizations.
RECOMMENDATION AND ACTION STEPS
The participants generally agreed that the training fulfilled its intended aims and objectives set by APO. As for the Action Steps, I divided my IAP into three phases: debriefing, comprehensive review, TQM application, and TQM workshop. In the first phase, I plan to fulfill certain obligations with APO as well as to give my stakeholders (middle managers, chamber of commerce, DTI) an executive summary of the training. I shall then establish a Quality Circle (QC) to conduct a comprehensive review of our company’s vision, mission, values, policies, and others procedures and ascertain quality gaps. Having identified the areas for improvement, TQM principles and tools will be applied and evaluated for their effectiveness. Lastly, as the First VP of our local chamber of commerce, I shall collaborate with the stakeholders to conduct a workshop or give a talk about TQM if and when opportunities such as the annual Business Week present itself. Hopefully, these actions will cover an awareness of TQM in my locality, an application of its key concepts and tools, and pave the way for others to try it for themselves. I am also able and willing to be invited by APO as a resource speaker, trainer, participant and observer in future initiatives.
JEFFREY P. ALMONTE
Hotel Camila Pagadian