“The best reformers the world has ever seen are those who begin on themselves”. George Bernard Shaw

Total Quality Management (TQM) is a philosophy introduced to corporations by W Edwards Deming in the 1950’s. The principles have resulted in many training interventions in companies across the world and have had possibly the greatest impact on management practise in the century. The theory contends that the quality of work is very much the result of the quality of the process by which it is produced. Managers are thus encouraged to evaluate and assess their management process to determine if it is bringing them the desired results. They may need to change how they are in order to improve who they are.

Deming identifies fourteen points upon which managers can focus to improve their processes and get better results. Some of these points are relevant to personal growth and include the following:

  • Clarifying a sense of purpose – establishing the “big picture” view of one’s life (that which will accelerate you to achieving your vision) is essential for focus and clarity. Purpose creates focus and is even life-sustaining. This same purpose should be connected to what you view as important in life. Having a solid sense of purpose establishes a reason for living and for working towards your goals. It makes effort worthwhile and focuses energy on achievement. It drives decisions and eliminates hindrances. It points you towards your essence as a human being.
  • Adopting new philosophies – is there a better way? As you learn more about the world around you, you potentially discover better approaches to living your life. Are there different ways to think and behave that will achieve better results? Considering new thinking may give you more options on how to improve. Sometimes, thinking differently and attempting new approaches to your day can make all the difference (for example, focusing on leadership activities).
  • Continuous improvement – continuous personal improvement is a process and not an event. A person constantly evolves into being more mature, better equipped and possessing more wisdom. If you deliberately plan this learning, you will accelerate growth by choice and not on demand. A decision made not to change is a choice to stagnate at the expense of what could be a more meaningful life. A choice to learn and grow feeds the intellect and the spirit.
  • Initiating interventions for education and improvement – if companies want to remain on the cutting edge, they need to implement continuous stretch interventions for their staff. The same is true of the individual. The power is in your hands to attend the classes, register for the seminars and read appropriate resources to needed to grow intellectually. The more you know, the more you can apply and the further you can go. Set goals to achieve in this area.
  • Initiating plans of action – you must create your strategy for becoming a total quality individual. Design measureable goals for self-improvement. Establish specific objectives and be proactive about achieving them. Make sure that plans are tabulated for measurement purposes. Choose an accountability partner to assist you with keeping on track. Regular meetings with this person will assist you with focus and application.

Applying total quality management principles to your personhood could elevate your performance and self-satisfaction levels. At the very least, you will be achieving some of your meaningful goals and may even elevate yourself into new performance strata. This can only assist with self-realisation.

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