Toyota Motors: The King of Total Quality Management

Total Quality Management (TQM) would not be what it is today without Toyota Motors.

Renowned for its lean production system, Toyota Motors is the tenth most important company in the world according to Fortune Global 500 and one of the only companies on the list to directly address TQM.

Graphs, extensive timelines and reports line the company’s website to address the evolution of TQM and Quality Control (QC) throughout its 75-year history.

 Toyota Motors Co., Ltd. has received various prestigious awards for quality management, including the Deming Application Prize in 1965 and the Japan Quality Control Award in 1970.

For Toyota, TQM is based on the concept of “customer first”, kaizen meaning continuous improvement and “total participation” which means the involvement and input of all employees. In 1951, Toyota launched the Creative Idea Suggestion System to support and encourage employees in making effective contributions to the company’s development. Toyota introduced Statistical Quality Control (SQC) in 1949. The company also makes great efforts to give back with community-based projects and environmental initiatives.

These concepts are at the core of Toyota’s Production System (TPS), and have led to higher quality of products and work, and improvement in all aspects of the organization, from individuals to services.

History of TQM at Toyota

Understanding the magnitude of the company’s contribution to overall total quality management is a great feat. First of all, one must look back at history.

The Industrial Revolution marked a turning-point in the manufacturing industry with the introduction of assembly-lines and mass production. It marked a time of innovation and Japan wanted to compete – so it «put the call out for inventors». Another turning-point in TQM was during the Second World War. Weapon-manufacturing, especially in the U.S., required the optimization of manufacturing machinery, goods and statistical methods to keep track of production. Although the U.S. took part in the development of Quality Control methods, industrial engineers and statisticians who wanted to implement new techniques were often overlooked because Quality was associated with a greater effort and restrictive regulations.

 Japan’s economy was in need of total economic rebuilding, so they invited Statisticians and Quality Managers such as Edward Deming and Malcolm Badridge to help reshape the economy. Toyota was one of the first to implement Quality Control in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Toyota’s current method known as Toyota’s Production System, aka “lean production”, owes itself to the work of Edward Deming and is today a reference point for Quality Management worldwide. Along with core principles such as “Customer First” and «kaizen», Toyota boasts many management tools such as its  8 Step Practical Problem Solving method, PDCA, A3 Reporting and 5S

The Toyota Way

The company established The Toyota Way, a set of business principles, in 2001. It is based on kaizen — continuous improvement — and strives to eliminate waste and overproduction, as well as to create a bureaucratic system where any employee can suggest a change where they see fit. There is a high value on human participation. There is constant encouragement for further innovation, consensus and ideas for improvement. The Toyota Way also focuses on long-term improvements rather than short-term. The two main pillars of the Toyota Way are ‘Customer First’ and ‘Respect for people’.

Related posts:

Toyota Production System (TPS)
The Toyota Way
Toyota’s Core Principles: ‘Total Participation’ & ‘Employee Engagement’
Toyota’s Core Pinciples: Customer First
Toyota’s Core Principles: Kaizen
The Toyota Way: Interview with Quality Engineer
Think lean, like Toyota: A3, PDCA & Problem-Solving
Toyota’s Quality Tool: 5S


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