Instructions

This learning module helps you learn the management theory Total Quality Management (TQM) by considering three simulation scenarios applied to a case study of a real company, British Airways. An essay question is presented at the end of each scenario.

To complete this module, follow these instructions:

  1. Read and watch the Require Resources on this page to learn about TQM and the British Airways case study.
  2. Next, under the simulation, read about the characters in the simulation. Each character will represent the perspective of a different department at British Airways.
  3. As shown by the menu on the left of this page, there are three scenario pages. On each page is a fictional scenario derived from the case study materials. The simulation provides each character reacting to the scenario.
  4. There is an essay question about applying TQM to British Airways at the bottom of each scenario, along with a scoring rubric. Write the answer to the essay question and save it where you can retrieve it later.
  5. After you have completed all three scenarios (and essay questions), use the menu on the left to navigate to the Module Completion Page. There, you will be offered an opportunity to submit your essay answers for scoring, receive a completion certificate, and complete a post-module survey.
Required Resources

What is Total Quality Management (TQM)?

The ASQ is a membership organization that aims to provide quality professionals with certifications, knowledge, and supplemental training. Here are some links to helpful resources from ASQ:

TQM: Then and Now

Click here to go to the ASQ web page to watch a short video about TQM. The video will cover:

  • The history of TQM
  • The 8 elements of TQM, and
  • The 12 steps to implementing TQM

British Airways Case Study

Click here to read the case study about British Airways available here.

Click here

After reading this case study, you should be able to:

  • Explain the main reason why TQM had to be taught to managers and employees before being implemented
  • Relate why management chose Technical Workshops to start with TQM given their stated general or strategic objectives of the company
  • Name two ways British Airways empowered employees and/or managers in implementing TQM
  • Identify two metrics British Airways measures as part of TQM, and explain how each could help British Airways set up quality standards, and
  • Choose one of the example projects done under TQM, and explain how this likely increased quality at British Airways.

British Airways Organizational Structure

Click here to go to an article that provides a big-picture view of British Airways’ organizational structure.

For simplicity, this simulation will focus on only the following departments:

  • Human Resources
  • Finance
  • Operations
  • Engineering
  • Customer service

In Figure 2 of the link above, you will see some of these departments represented. They are described below under Department Descriptions.

If you are interested in learning more about British Airways, visit their press media page here.

Overview of Module

This learning module allows you to consider management scenarios in a realistic business setting, and strategize ways to solve management problems in those scenarios using the Total Quality Management (TQM) theory. An essay question is presented at the end of each scenario.

The module centers around an executive team representing five departments of an airline. On this page, information about each department and the member of the executive team representing the department represented in this scenario is provided, along with links to the three scenarios. The menu above allows you to access each of the scenarios.

On the scenario pages, a specific scenario is presented, and information about what each member of the executive team is thinking and saying is provided. At the bottom of the scenario, an essay question about the scenario is presented. The essay question is intended to help you practice applying TQM theory.

After completing all three scenarios, your invited to go to the Module Completion Page (see menu above). On this page, there will be a debriefing video that will help you process what you learned from the module. Further, you will be given opportunity to obtain a certificate of completion, and will be invited to participate in a short post-module survey.

Definition of “Turnover”

In this module, you will encounter the use of the term “turnover”, which has several different (unrelated) meanings in business.

  • Staff or employee turnover: This refers the situation where employees or staff leave or quit at a rapid pace, such that the effort to train them and get them integrated into the organization was wasted. A more formal definition would be, “the number or percentage of workers who leave an organization and are replaced by new employees”. By this definition, high turnover is a bad thing, and should be reduced.
  • Inventory turnover: This refers to a different measurement – specifically, how fast a company “turns over”, or replaces, its inventory within a year. This link provides an example of inventory turnover for another airlines – American Airlines Group. By this definition, high turnover is a good thing, and should be increased.

In this module, turnover will refer to inventory turnover, not staff or employee turnover. This means that business goals will be aimed at maximizing turnover, not minimizing it.

Module Learning Objectives

At the end of this module, the learner should be able to:

  • State at least two performance metrics that could be measured about an organization, and explain how they could be changed through a management intervention
  • Identify a TQM element that could guide a management intervention at an organization designed to improve quality, and state your rationale as to how the element could guide the intervention
  • Describe how two different departments in the same global organization might implement the same TQM element differently in order to improve quality, and
  • State one of the steps to implementing TQM, and describe challenges that may be associated with this step.
Department Descriptions

Human Resources

This department is responsible for ensuring appropriate staffing in all departments. Different departments have different requirements. For example, pilots that are hired need to have a pilot’s license and be in good standing, and technical workers also need specific licenses related to their work. In addition to these standards, it is important to maintain quality standards over the process of hiring to ensure fair consideration of applicants.

The HR department is also in charge of orchestrating and supporting employee training and development. All new employees must participate in orientation developed by HR in order for them to know the policies and procedures necessary to work at British Airways. They also need to understand British Airways in terms of its background, structure, mission, vision and values.

But HR is not just there for new employees. HR can guide departments in employee development programs. In addition to recruitment, HR can help departments reorganize their staff and reroute workflow. HR professionals may be highly trained in organizational management and leadership.

Finance Department

The Finance Department is in charge of all of the fiduciary responsibilities of the organization. This includes arranging purchase of necessary supplies, and ensuring allocation of funding for payroll as well as capital expenditures. The Finance Department is also in charge of forecasting and projection, as well as budgeting and recommending allocation.

Operations Department

The Operations Department deals with all the logistics involved in the organization. This involves coordinating staff and equipment (including planes) to be at the right location at the right time. It also coordinates interactions between departments, such as ensuring policies and procedures by Engineering Department staff do not collide with the activities of the Customer Service staff.

Engineering Department

This department has vast responsibility over the airplane fleet. Of utmost importance, the Engineering Department organizes and ensures the maintenance and airworthiness of the airplanes, and also is in charge of setting up processes to ensure that airplane remain in compliance with functional and safety regulations.

The Engineering Department is in charge of everything to do with the physical condition of planes, including their interiors, so cleaning staff belong to the engineering team. Operations on the runway employ vehicles which also require maintenance, safety policies and procedures, and technical employee management. Anything mechanical that requires technical, engineering knowledge as well as a management and leadership will be under the authority of the Engineering Department.

Customer Service Department

Changes in the airline industry in the early 1980s elevated the priority given to customer experience when customers considered which airline to choose. This increased competition in customer service, forcing airlines to turn their attention to many obvious as well as less apparent issues in customer service.

Obvious areas that the Customer Service department at an airline must address includes the purchase experience (reservations, ticketing), the in-flight experience, and any issues that come up routinely in air travel, such as reuniting customers with lost luggage or helping customers who miss flights. Less common but high profile and potentially highly challenging issues include addressing helping ill patients fly, accommodating pets, accommodating babies and unaccompanied children, dealing with drunk or unruly passengers, and addressing customer complaints in response to technical issues.

Simulation

This section will describe all of the characters in the simulation that you will see in each scenario in the module.

Chief of Staff, Human Relations
Mr. Hari/Chief of Staff

The Chief of Staff is the head of the Human Relations Department.

Back Story

Mr. Hari will represent the Chief of Staff in this simulation.

  • Hari grew up in a large family with seven siblings, of which he is the eldest. Although he and his siblings never went without anything when they were growing up, money wasn’t plentiful, so his family had to be resourceful.
  • A lot of families in Mr. Hari’s neighborhood were similar, and he soon found that they there was both strength and fun in numbers. Siblings from many families in the neighborhood started playing together and sharing their toys and other items the suggestion of Mr. Hari.
  • As the kids in the neighborhood grew, Mr. Hari became a leader among his peers. He enjoyed leading large, organized groups – like youth groups at his church, or volunteer groups for charity – as well as small, more informal groups, like study groups in high school or college, or the neighborhood band he put together with his brothers and a few friends who played instruments.
  • Hari’s band made a few songs and became locally famous, leading one of the members to form a boutique clothing brand that promoted the band. Mr. Hari found himself running various groups – the band, the clothing store, and his usual groups and charities.
  • Hari by his own admission was not a very good musician. As his band got famous and diversified, he became their manager, and later, the chief operations officer of their entire corporation, which included all their music, merchandise, concert sales, and branded clothing. He became famous in the business community, being profiled in the business media.
  • Hari found himself sitting next to a British Airways executive on a British Airways flight when returning from a meeting one day. The executive introduced herself as being from British Airways, and Mr. Hari gushed about how British Airways was his favorite airline. The executive gushed that she was a huge fan of Mr. Hari’s band. On the spot, the executive offered Mr. Hari the job of Chief of Staff, as it had recently opened up.

Greeting

I’m so honored that British Airways asked me to lead their Human Resources department and manage their staff. No matter what your sound is – edgy and new, or old school and familiar – if you’re on my team, you can sing your own personal song. My goal is to make British Airways the highest rated workplace for employees, where they can feel both challenged and individually valued!

Chief of Finance, Finance Department
Ms. Saver/Chief of Finance

The Chief of Finance is the head of the Finance Department.

Back Story

Ms. Saver will represent the Chief of Finance in this simulation.

  • Saver is daughter of an elementary math teacher (mother) and a stock broker (father). She took an early interest in her father’s stock trading. He was a partner in a firm. She expected that she would grow up and join her father as a partner.
  • However, as Ms. Saver grew older, she started becoming more interested in how her father’s firm actually ran. She started looking for better ways for them to store the money they were not using, and ways to cut unnecessary costs. This led her to study investment banking.
  • Saver and some partners opened an investment firm and were extremely successful. As Ms. Saver invested in different companies, she became more interested in how their finance departments ran. She began giving more hands-on guidance to businesses they acquired.
  • Saver’s investment business acquired a discount airline. Ms. Saver helped prepare the airline for acquisition by a larger airline, and this included an overhaul of its financial processes. Eventually, British Airways acquired the discount airline.
  • As part of the acquisition, executives at British Airways got to know Ms. Saver. Later, after a worldwide economic downturn put British Airways in a challenging financial spot, these executives contacted Ms. Saver and asked if she thought she could turn the situation around. She agreed, and was brought on as Chief of Finance.

Greeting

British Airways is one of Britain’s national jewels, and I am proud to be in a position to protect such a treasure. One should never spend cheaply and always spend smartly, especially if one is a national jewel. I am committed to working with my fine and dedicated colleagues to put British Airways on the path to financial success.

Chief of Operations, Operations Department
Ms. Logistics/Chief of Operations

The Chief of Operations is head of the Operations Department.

Back Story

Ms. Logistics will represent the Chief of Operations in this simulation.

  • Logistics comes from a family of who ran a high-end transportation service, where they catered to luxury businesspeople with limousine service. Over the course of her childhood, they expanded into the taxi service, and when she was a teenager, she became a dispatcher.
  • Logistics loved being a dispatcher, and when she went off to college, worked as a dispatcher at a trucking service. It was there that she formulated in her mind her dream job – coordinating shipments of inventory for a large, international network of retail housing goods stores. Many of the truckers shipped merchandise from these stores, and not only did she love the merchandise, the truckers spoke highly of the culture of the store and how they treated their customers, contractors and employees.
  • She eventually became the Chief Operations Officer at this chain after starting at a lower level, thus achieving her dream job. However, by then, she had become very interested in environmentalism, and the company had no interest in these ideas. She wanted to focus on more environmentally-friendly suppliers, and trying to reduce the carbon footprint of their operations. None of the stakeholders was interested.
  • As a result, she left this position and wrote a book about her time at the job that was well-read in the business community. In her promotion of the book (which portrayed the company she had worked for in a very positive light), she explained that this organization should not be unfairly demonized for its disinterest in environmentalism, because it is acting similarly to other mainstream companies. She said that she personally is now looking to work at a special place that prioritizes her ideas about practical practices at large corporations to reduce environmental impact.
  • Around the time of the release of Ms. Logistics’ book, British Airways began a campaign highlighting environmentally-friendly changes they were making to their operations. They reached out to Ms. Logistics, and she eventually accepted the Chief of Operations position.

Greeting

It’s great to be given a once-in-a-lifetime chance to help optimize the operations of an airline that serves 45 million customers per year. During my tenure as Chief of Operations, I want to improve our efficiency, and reduce our unnecessary environmental impact.

Chief of Engineering, Engineering Department
Dr. Tinker/Chief of Engineering

The Chief of Engineering is the head of the Engineering Department.

Back Story

Dr. Tinker holds a doctorate in Industrial Engineering, and will represent the Chief of Engineering in this simulation.

  • Tinker grew up in a large family that owned a sprawling, multi-location car dealership. The members of the family inclined toward business worked in the dealership offices, and those with technical interests worked in their repair shop.
  • Tinker gravitated toward the repair shop, but from a young age, everyone commented on her brilliance. She learned everything twice as fast – and even invented new fixes. Everyone said she should go to college and become a professor and inventor.
  • After her master’s degree in engineering, she went into a doctorate program, and that’s when she became very interested in safety. She realized that in vehicles, accidents tend to produce the same type of damage, and people get hurt in the same ways. As part of her doctoral project, she invented a new inexpensive, easy-to-install safety item that could be used in cars to prevent a common injury. It was patented used in some cars. She won an industry award.
  • After her experience in college, she did not want to work for her family’s business. She became an engineer at a company that manufactures custom subway cars for cities. In that role, she created many safety inventions for the cars, earned awards, and eventually went to work at her country’s transportation safety agency.
  • Government work did not suit Dr. Tinker. She really wanted to get back to working in industry, so she put in her notice after four years on the job. After people she knew at British Airways found out she put in her notice at the government, they immediately offered her the Chief of Engineering position.

Greeting

It’s Dr. Tinker here. I love working at British Airways, where I can say, “Safety is number one!” and everyone here agrees with me! My engineering team is all about “Safety first”. As the Chief of Engineering, I’m committed to finding creative ways to make us the safest, most efficient airlines in the world.

Chief of Customer Service, Customer Service Department
Lady Goodflight/Chief of Customer Service

The chief of Customer Service is the head of the customer service department.

Back Story

Lady Goodflight will represent the Chief of Customer Service in this simulation.

  • Lady Goodflight began her career in customer service as a little girl, serving as the “official welcomer” at her parents’ historic luxury hotel. Because the hotel accommodated many famous diplomats and celebrities, Lady Goodflight was shown from an early age how to make guests feel like they are being treated like royalty.
  • As Lady Goodflight grew older, she continued to learn about the hotel business, and also became very interested in aviation, as their hotel was near a small airport where some of the guests would land their private planes. Soon, she found herself taking flight lessons and practicing flying.
  • Lady Goodflight learned quickly that she much preferred being a passenger than a pilot, as she really enjoyed the experience of flying so high above the trees. She was also surprised at how relatively uncomfortable the in-flight experience was compared to the experience at her family’s glamourous hotel. She thought it was ironic these people from high society would pay so much for a plane and the ability to fly, then would accept such a low quality in-flight experience.
  • Lady Goodflight became more and more critical of commercial flights as well. By the 1980s, she felt that flying in a commercial flight was like “taking a bus”. She even said she would avoid it if she could take a train instead.
  • At the time she said that an airline flight had become like “taking a bus”, Lady Goodflight had become the leader of operations at her family’s hotel. The person she was having a conversation with was one of the guests who worked in the airline industry. He said that he felt British Airways would benefit from a person with her experience and perspective given the new change in the airline industry. This is how Lady Goodflight was hired at Chief of Customer Service.

Greeting

I am so pleased to be an executive at the friendliest airline in the world! And I aim – along with my exclusive customer service team – to make it even friendlier. Welcome aboard! We are delighted to have you!

Scenarios

Scenario #1: Setting Goals for 2009

Scenario #1

Ms. Saver wants to set goals to increase profits in 2009, but no one can agree on priorities. Can Ms. Saver focus the team on the principles of TQM to get them to agree on goals for 2009?

Scenario #2: Turning Around Negative Profit

Scenario #2

It’s June 2010, and British Airways’ profits are under water. Can Ms. Saver use TQM principles to get the team to choose priorities so they can focus on turning around negative profit?

Scenario #3: Strategy to Keep Turnover High

Scenario #3

British Airways succeeds when turnover is high, but it’s not easy to maintain success, especially in a large company with many different departments. Will the team come together to agree on a TQM strategy moving forward?