A Brief History of Recent Management Paradigms
“A dwarf standing on the shoulders of a giant may see farther than a giant himself”.
2.1 From TQM to Six Sigma and Lean
Three 1970s era events in the United States provided a fertile ground for subsequent dynamic changes of industrial paradigms: (1) oil embargoes, which made small cars attractive to consumers; (2) the overtaking of the consumer electronics and auto markets by higher quality and less expensive Japanese imports; and (3) a widespread perception that U.S. manufacturing was falling behind international competition, particularly in quality. In 1980, NBC TV broadcast a two-hour program titled “If Japan Can… Why Can't We?” opening U.S. eyes to a new management paradigm named “Total Quality Management” (TQM), which was sweeping industry by storm in the early 1980s [NBC, June 24, 1980]. Led by Edward Deming  this was an attempt to adopt successful Japanese industrial management methods for U.S. industry. A strong message of TQM was that pursuit of higher quality is compatible with lower costs. Inexpensive and high-quality automobiles and consumer electronic goods imported from Japan made this notion self-evident to U.S. consumers, but not necessarily to U.S. industry.
TQM emphasized a total approach to quality by integrating management, processes, and tools, and developing a business strategy focused on customer satisfaction. It promoted continuous improvement of all processes and popularized ...