Though individual problem solving is not discouraged, the real pay off in behavioral terms arises out of team problem solving. Working in teams fulfills a very basic need of human beings as a social animal, the craving for recognition and acceptance from people around him. This combined with an opportunity to apply one’s mind, can be more effective than the host of behavioral programs which are packaged and sold as commodities.
Interpersonal and Inter-group Communications:
Most organizations define these as problems, when in fact they are only symptoms of a much larger problem of alienation behind them. Like aspirin that eliminates the head ache temporarily, the behavioral training program by them seems to do precious little, to solve these problems permanently. Total Quality is about solving the problem permanently. Team problem solving situations help individuals to work through their interpersonal and inter-group problems with a sole objective of eliminating a quantitative problem at hand. In solving such problems they go through the best training in interpersonal and inter group communications.
Leadership and Confidence:
Leadership can never be taught but has to be learnt. In the process of problem solving, and presentations thereafter top management, individuals learn the concept of shared leadership and interdependence (the essence of team work), which will be the basic rule of operation for tomorrow’s corporations. Individuals take the leadership positions as and when problem requires their knowledge and learn when to fall back and support another who knows more. Today there are more books on leadership than probably any other behavioral concept. Corporations are flooded with packaged programs on leadership but how many leaders have really grown?
Data Based Approach
TQM is about data generation for improvement, and control for problem solving. It is data and hard facts that form the basis for breakouts in problem solving, it is only teams that can generate the appropriate kind of data.
This is one more area which has attracted the imagination of corporate leaders: If only our employees are more creative?, they say. In Total Quality implementation, we assume that every human being has an inbuilt level of creativity and there exists potential of the human brain which needs to be challenged. Give situations in real time and guide them through process of problem solving and it will appear that individual and group creativity are flourishing. No one is asking for a genius. But we do need hundreds and thousands of improvements, over a sustained period of time, to make Total Quality work.
All this not deride the value of behavioral training, but to bring into focus the need to closely intermesh this kind of training with the hands- on work done during group problem solving. Certainly, change agents who spearhead TQM implementation, are given these inputs, which are closely linked with the hardcore activities under the TQM implementation plan. Do not wonder as to why in all this years, Japan never focused on behavioral training when the west was lapping it up. They never needed it and neither will you, if you go by the rules of the TQM implementation process of designed interventions.