Be scientific: The essence of quality improvement is using a scientific approach that considers a variety of possible solutions until the best — not just most obvious — is identified using facts and data, and doing it step-by-step, in an iterative manner, to reach ever-higher levels of quality. Feelings, hunches and ad-hoc actions have no place in a systematic approach towards improvement.
Make it top down: Top management must be present for every quality meeting. Managers who do not support or those who resist improvement activities must not be encouraged or tolerated. Institutionalise quality “flash reports” where every customer complaint is immediately brought to the notice of the top management, which will aggressively review action taken to close the issue and eliminate the root cause of the problem.
Involve and energise employees: Ensure there is regular training, education and skill development of employees. Provide training to employees in daily work management, problem-solving methods and data collection and analysis. Enhance dexterity in new front-line associates by making them practise critical activities several times.
Analyse failure regularly: Every month, examine the causes of failure, if any, in the manufacturing process and use that learning to improve the methods in the next month. This way, everyone learns from the past to do a better job the next time, in a unified way.
Take help from the best: I believe the Japanese approach to manufacturing is the best. While Maruti helped create the first TQM cluster, our group has collaborated with JTEKT and Mitsubishi. We have consulted eminent Japanese quality gurus such as Shoji Shiba and Yoshikazu Tsuda and, more importantly, followed their teachings faithfully.