Barriers to Success

T.Q. is a radical innovation for most companies, requiring a major change in attitudes and behaviors. Considerable organization barriers may have to be overcome.

Radical change will not occur overnight. It takes time to establish T.Q. firmly in everything we do.

Implementing T.Q. will require our constant vigilance and awareness of barriers which could be obstructing efforts to improve Quality. We should be aware of:

It is the responsibility of management to make quality the unexcelled priority. And the determination of all the workforce to accomplish that priority. - General Motors.


When looking at business situations it is usual to break problems down into their measurable elements and begin analysis of the problem from there. Edward de Bono, in his book 'Atlas of Management Thinking', suggests that some of the less obvious ways of overcoming problems can be overlooked by thinking in this 'linear' way. He says that the clarity with which you visualize a situation is the basis for any subsequent decision or action. By increasing this clarity the effectiveness of these decisions or actions may be improved.

In the same way that you do not need to measure a friend's nose to recognize his face there are images that can be used to simulate business situations which can generate instant recognition and improved perception.


In the Total Quality Management Process so far we have assessed 'where we are now' through the diagnostic survey and through brainstorming. We have also generated a 'vision' of how we would like the organization to look. To achieve this 'vision', we will require some kind of change in the way things are done; the consequences of not changing have not been defined but they are regarded as not being acceptable. Preventing us from changing are a number of barriers.

Faced with barriers the usual reaction is to attempt to break them down. Using the image above, however, and imagining it as representing the flow of business along a sort of 'pipeline' it is possible to see other ways in which change can be effected.


Here the old route is simply blocked off. People are forced to use the new route. Old forms are, for example, discontinued and systems just switched off. This type of abrupt switch over is necessary when it is not possible to run both old and new methods side by side imagine switching to driving on the right over a period of time! The problem is that it may bring confusion and resentment. To avoid this, the changeover must be:

This method may prove to be ineffective. Blocking the old route does not in itself make people adopt the route you desire. Indeed, if the existing barriers to the desired route are still in place a completely new branch of undesirable practices may arise (equivalent to a burst pipe or the appearance of a new outlet).

Although this may seem the most positive course of action It is not always the most successful.

Disuse is a natural way to kill off an old behavior pattern. Disuse will come about if there is a much more attractive competing route or if the old route becomes inconvenient. Laziness can be a very effective way of changing behaviors. Allow the old route to persist but make it increasingly more difficult. Watch out though because the new methods may also be inconvenient, or appear so, especially at first when they are new and have to be learnt. One way of causing atrophy of the old route might be the removal of funding, training or management support for the 'business as usual' method.

This course of action may be regarded as complementary to the last one. The new route is made to seem more attractive than the old route simpler and more convenient. This is shown by the much greater width of the start of the new route. The extra width may be necessary in the first part of the new route but that is enough. AR that is required is that initial comparison should clearly favor the new route.

It may be impossible to sustain the extra attractiveness but this is not deceitful, it is just acknowledging that changeover periods are ones of difficulty and strain.

We spend far too little time on packaging of change for fear of misleading people. It is just as misleading to ignore the packaging and expect people to assess the new situation without any help. If you knew nothing at all about chocolate and it was not wrapped, would you every buy it?

One point worth drawing from the image overleaf is that through the initial temptation, or widening of the new route, it can be possible to encourage change and overcome initial barriers without ever tackling them directly.

By directly tackling the barriers to the desired route they may be removed, thus enabling free transition to the new route for any people who should wish to take ft. Without doubt there are some barriers whose removal is mandatory before change can be effected, but others can successfully be overcome in other ways using one or the other change images.

Removal of all the negative factors or barriers whilst opening up the desired route does not necessarily encourage its adoption. In the above picture the route to the vision and the 'business as usual' route now have an equal chance of being followed.