Gillette’s Total Quality Management System Case Study
Gillette began its global operations in 1905 when it opened a manufacturing plant in Germany. This global strategy and success saw the firm extending its operation to Latin America. Argentina was a potential market after tariffs and business policies were revised. Having operated under unfavorable regime, the firm perceived future competition and decided to create competitive advantages.
Key figures in the firm such as Carlos Rotund o and Jorge Micozzi suggested better quality as the solution to the market issues. The management had to change the organizational culture which was not strategic for the future market circumstances. Rotund o had already began creating a new organizational culture when Micozzin came up with the idea of total quality management (TQM) that made Gillette Argentina the most successful affiliate in Latin America.
In a firm where decision making is solely the responsibility of leaders such that the employees have to act as the subjects to them, it is likely that the employees would not readily accept the adoption of total quality management (TQM). This is because TQM requires them to take elevated roles, become self-dependent and consider themselves as the owners of the firm.
It is apparent that Gillette had earlier managed its activities in a manner that left the managerial roles such as decision making and steering initiatives exclusively to the leaders. Therefore, the effort to adopt TQM compelled leaders to take measures that would prepare the employees better for the change. These measures involved several initiatives especially triggered by several key figures in the firm.
The very first initiative Gillette took was to hire the Organizational Dynamics Inc (ODI) as a consulting and training firm. The firm became the key source of information and motivation for the Gillette Latin America management. It can be argued that the source of a successful organizational change begins with leaders who in turn transfer it to employees.
This means that the employees would rarely have accepted an initiative that their leaders did not support appropriately. The consulting firm played a central role in preaching the benefits of TQM to the leaders. Indeed, the firm reinforced the idea Rotundo had already started to instill in Argentina. Organizational Dynamics Inc. developed the quality initiative and recommended the creation of a quality structure.
Secondly, Gillette offered training to the employees as a way of preparing them for TQM system. One of the landmark training was FADE that prepared employees for quality action teams. The specialized training involved four phases of problem solving: focus, analyze, develop and execute.
The focus phase was concerned with the development of a problem statement; the analyze phase dealt with the use of data to understand the magnitude of the problem; the develop phase involved the determination of a solution and implementation plan; and the execute phase was about implementing the plan and measuring its impact. In addition to FADE training, the employees received training in seven basic quality tools as well as brainstorming, force field analysis and cost benefit analysis.
Furthermore, training was extended to management and leadership levels. The Argentine directors, managers and other officials were trained by ODI as trainers of the rest of the organization. The teams were allocated facilitators who received training on leadership development.
Team leaders were trained in areas relating to group dynamics, effective meetings, leadership skills and group conflicts. As a matter of fact, training was the backbone of the TQM process. Most of the members who got training became experts in their respective areas and eventually steered the process towards success.
Another way that Gillette used to prepared employees for the TQM process was through workshops. Through the leadership of Walker, workshops were conducted with all employees to inform them about the changes that would take place. The staff got information about the new working style and culture to be attained through TQM.
Team sponsors were identified, and their roles explained to the staff. They were to support the teams in any way needed including helping them to attain their objectives with recognition of their empowerment. Other workshops that Walker would offer involved problem-solving and statistical analysis, and at the same time inspiring everyone.
Finally, Gillette endeavored to meet the challenges of quality that the employees faced. Initially, Rotundo responded quickly to the employee complaints about the contract approach by delegating responsibility to investigate them to Victor Walker. The newly hired quality manager emerged to be a successful preparer of the team members and organizer of TQM process.
Through his stewardship, teams were guided in their TQM process by sponsors and ODI methodology. In addition, a steering committee was formed in an effort to respond to quality challenges.
The council systematically supported the employees towards TQM process and formed the backbone in the creation of a new working culture. Through such support, the employees were assured of the leaders’ commitment to the process and ultimately embarked on the mission whole-heartedly.
Initially, Gillette’s organizational culture was characterized by individualism in which there were leaders and subjects to lead. Apparently, the employees got orders from above and had to act upon them without question. Decisions were solely made by the management without any input from the lower ranks.
Each department was assigned to specifically defined roles that were only approved by the management. There were few linkages to other departments with no interaction between departmental employees. Coordination between the departments was the role of managers whereby they advised rather than discussing on the work-related issues.
The employees focused on completing tasks rather than meeting goals and objectives. It can be argued that customer focus was not a crucial factor when working in the company. Workers pursued their interest and the interest of the company had little relevance when performing the assigned tasks.
Even before the implementation of TQM process, Carlos Rotundo had attempted to change the existing working culture. He introduced a quality-focused culture that supported teamwork with special emphasis on sales. The culture assigned many of the responsibilities to team leaders but did not give individual employees much autonomy. Clearly, leaders made many of the decisions without any contribution coming from team members.
Each team pursued a specific task that was defined by the customer’s critique identified in the customer survey. Also, the management was responsible for most of the decisions that were beyond teams’ jurisdiction. Departmental interaction was not supported by this culture which ended prematurely after the introduction of TQM process.
The working culture that emerged from the adoption of TQM process was characterized by team work. Each activity that was accomplished in the firm including product design, development, production and offering was the cumulative efforts of individual teams. The team formation involved both the employees and the management. As a result, decision-making at department level as well as corporate level involved all team members.
The culture allowed each employee to contribute to any undertaking of the firm regardless of the source department. The ultimate goal in the new culture was customer satisfaction and all teams endeavored to achieve this goal.
Therefore, working to achieve this goal was the “sign post” of teams’ activities and leaders were not there to give orders but to discuss issues with members. In fact, Rotund o acknowledged that the new culture did not allow for orders, but consensus whereby the management listened to others’ problems and worked jointly to solve them.
The new culture was a supportive culture where tasks were shared among teams as well as team members. Individual employees became more responsible and industrious as they perceived assistance from other members. There was new confidence in their decisions and satisfaction in the tasks completed, especially when they were acknowledged with gifts.
The support formed a platform for knowledge creation and acquisition by the employees due to the focus on identifying problems and solving them. The cooperative working culture gave way to efficiency in the services offered to customers. Employees were willing more than ever to launch their complaints which allowed the managing team to act upon them on time. Thus, the working culture gave room for continuous improvement of the TQM process and eventually improvement on services offered to customers.
The TQM process implemented by Gillette had great tangible and intangible benefits. Perhaps, the economic benefits that came about due to improved performance and wastage elimination are most important. The high performance resulted from increased customer satisfaction which by 1994, the firm topped the list with 8 on a ten-point scale.
The higher economic performance could also have stemmed from the creativity and innovativeness of the firm as the team members acquired new knowledge and ideas. It can be argued that the larger part of the firm’s performance revolved around the capacity to bring new products to the market. The creative culture established by TQM process was clearly described in the rapid growth of financial determinants.
Follow the suggested outline below in completing the written output:
I. Company Background
a. It must include a brief summary of the organizational issue.
II. Statement of the Problem
a. Why do employees of Gillette would not accept the adoption of total quality management?
b. What implementation must be adopted for a successful organizational change?
c. What ISO versions/updates was present in the case study?
d. What quality culture is present in Gillette? (refer to 04 Handout)
III. Alternative Courses of Action
It must contain at least (2) two courses of action that will resolve the given statement of the problem. It must present the advantages and disadvantages of each course of action.
This part must also reflect some, if not all, concepts of total quality management.
IV. Recommendation
It must present the best course of action among the presented alternatives, in resolving the given statement of the problem.
This part must clearly present why a particular alternative was chosen over the other proposed alternatives.
V. Implementation Program
a. This part must present that the recommended strategy is feasible for wide company implementation. This proposal technically falls under total quality management.

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