TQM vs. LO LO11704

Barry Mallis (bmallis@smtp.markem.com)
7 Jan 1997 08:32:49 -0500

Replying to LO11680 --

Ethan Mings asks a darn good question about the difference between the LO
and a TQM organization. Can someone explain what we're after with such

Suppose LO were nested inside TQ? Or suppose TQ or continuous improvement
were nested inside an LO? It seems that we're moving up and down the
ladder of abstraction in such a conversation. Do we mean to imply that
these two terms are intrinsically comparable? Hardly.

Total Quality Management is an evolving system of practices, tools, and
training methods for managing organizations to provide customer
satisfaction in a rapidly changing world. I don't see any need to hang an
LO hat on that. A learning organization may make the evolution more
efficient, humane, etc. TQM is NOT a philosophy. A TQM company is NOT
created when some consultants come in, or managers have taken some

"TQ" is elusive for rank and file. Continuous Improvement, as a catch
phrase, is less abstract in the sense that everyone can sink teeth into
it. For some, it's the canines, for others, incisors.

This mixing of TQ and LO is a failing in our ability to communicate, which
is why we often keep typing and typing in order to clarify (we think).
Richard Berger wrote about someone else trying to "push...from a TQM to a
learning organization." I don't know who this "someone" is who wrote that
thought, but IMHO it is fraught with all the superficiality that we wish
to carefully consider--then avoid-- in our dialogs about learning and
giving ourselves and our organizations a warmer spot in the sun.

Best regards in the New Year,


Barry Mallis bmallis@markem.com Total Quality Resource Manager MARKEM Corporation Keene, NH 03431

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>