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16A Zarathushtrian Approach to Quality Management
 

European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies

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 A Zarathushtrian Approach to Quality Management
Dr. Jose Luis Abreu

Business schools have for some time concerned themselves with “quality” in their studies of management. The most recent, and perhaps the most developed stage in this study of “quality” has been named “Total Quality Management” or “TQM.” At the beginning it was referred as “Quality Control,” which referred to the first stage in a system of quality management which was based on inspecting the process of manufacturing as well as the final manufactured products (IAF,1998).

Later, the concept of “Assurance Management” was added, which was intended to guarantee a continuous quality level of the product or service which a business entity offered. Finally, the idea was developed into what at the present time is known as “Total Quality Management,” a managerial system closely related to the concept of continuous improvement and which includes the two previous phases.

The main principles of this managerial system are as follows:

Assuring the complete satisfaction of the needs and expectations of the customer (internal and external).

Development of a process of continual improvement in all of the activities and policies of the company, a process which has a beginning but is open-ended

The total commitment of both the executives and the managers, and an active leadership of the entire directive team.

The participation of every member in the organization, promoting teamwork toward TQM.

The involvement of suppliers in the company’s TQM system, so that those outside the business entity also recognize the important role of the TQM system in achieving and improving the company’s quality.

Identification and management of vital organizational processes, and elimination of departmental and structural barriers that hide such processes.

Management decision-making based on objective data and facts, where management is based on accurate information.

According to Rico (1999), this philosophy of quality provides a global conception that promotes the continuous improvement in the organization and the involvement of its members, centering on the satisfaction of both internal and external customers. We could define this philosophy as follows: Management (the directive body is completely committed) of the total (every member in the organization is involved, including the customers and the suppliers) quality (behavior and production requirements are understood and assumed exactly)

The term “quality,” as used in management consulting, has undergone many changes that can be reflected in a historical evolution. In table 1, each one of the stages of the “quality” concept and its objectives are described. This evolution helps us to understand the origin of the drive for a better product or service which can satisfy the needs of a customer or a society. It also helps the reader see how an entire organization can become involved to achieve this goal. Quality is not only an essential requirement in a product; it is also a strategic factor which the organization must have, not only to maintain its position in the market but indeed to assure its survival.

Quality improvement is a process designed to reduce defective products, services or processes, and can also be used to make already good products better. Any project to improve quality will consist of a clearly defined problem (or an opportunity to improve), and a program to find and work toward a solution. Like any program, it has to rely on resources (materials, humans and information) as well as time and work requirements (Abreu, 2000).

To use what might seem a contradictory description, there is now a “new ancient approach” which I propose in the field of quality management. This strategy goes beyond the traditional focus on procedures, policies and the final product or service. This “new ancient approach” to quality issues is concerned with the ethical values proposed by Zarathushtra, or Zoroaster, thousands of years ago.

Every member in an organization, from top to bottom, contributes with his or her actions to the quality of that organization’s product or service. In this sense, human behavior is fundamental when it comes to manifesting the goal called “quality.”
Table 1.
EVOLUTION OF THE CONCEPT OF QUALITY

STAGE
CONCEPT
OBJECTIVES

Artisanry
To do things right independently of the cost
a) To satisfy the customer.
or effort necessary to accomplish it
b) To satisfy the artisan for a work well done.
c) To create a unique product.
Industrial
To do many things not taking quality into consideration
a) To satisfy demand of goods.
Revolution
Production is identified with quality
b) To get benefits.
Second World
To assure the efficiency of the armament not taking into con-
To guarantee the availabity of War
consideration the cost, with the highest and fastest production.
efficient armament with the Efficiency+Time= Quality
right quantity and timing.
Post-War
To do things right from the very beginning.
a) To minimize cost through (Japan) , quality.
b) To satisfy the customer.
c) To be competitive.
Post-War
To produce, the more the better.
To satisfy the great demand of
(Rest of the goods caused by the war.
World)
Quality
Techniques of inspection in production to avoid the output of
To satisfy the technical needs
Control
defective goods.
of the product.
Total Quality Management
A theory of management centered in the permanent satisfaction of customer expectations.
a) To satisfy external and Internal customers.
b)To be highly competitive.
c) Continuous improvement.

Quality Mngt.
Theory for the new millennium based upon the ethical values
To administer the ethical
by Values
and principles of the organization and its members as a
values and principles of the foundation for quality procedures and processes that are
people in the organization, focu- designed to satisfy the customer. A proposal for a Zoroastrian approach to Quality Management by Gathic Values --
sing on the satisfaction of the
is being made by the Spenta University Academic Team.
customers as part of those values.

Zarathushtrian ethical philosophy contains the first historical formulation of values, principles, and virtues (Abreu, 2000). It can be easily applied to modern management. The foundation provided by good thoughts (good thinking), good words (good communication) and good deeds (good actions) leads to three strong pillars for quality management.

The three pillars of the Zarathushtrian approach to quality through values must be introduced and maintained by the managers of the company. As the leaders of the organizaiton, they have the responsibility to create an environment in which to instill these three elements in the working community.

With the promotion of Good Thoughts, the employees identify themselves with the objectives established by the company. In this way, they perceive themselves as a vital part of the organization. A person who has good thoughts towards himself, his coworkers, the leaders of the firm, and the organization as a whole, will be more likely to communicate well (good words). In turn, this can lead to more creative and productive work (good deeds) which will be translated into what is defined as the desired quality.

The Zarathushtrian approach proposes a quality management by values that takes into consideration human behavior, and regards moral values as the elements that are vital to quality. On these three pillars of the Zarathushtrian Ethics an organization should be able to achieve solid customer satisfaction, because these ethical policies arise from the thinking and understanding within the organization and not from outwardly imposed procedures or policies that may not be followed by the workers. Zarathushtrian ethical philosophy, applied to industry, considers human values as primary; these values are the beginning and the end of the organizational system, as the organization attempts to assure its survival as both a productive and moral entity.

According to Zarathushtrian thought, quality would mean perfection, or in the gathic expression “HURVATAT”, a state of all-round excellence, of complete well-being and integrity. A quality manager, besides assuring an organizational environment of good thought, good words, and good actions, has to set a direction for these efforts. The ultimate aim should be perfection - which strives to perfectly meet customer requirements.

Once the Zarathushtrian-inspired manager has established an environment of good thoughts, good words and good actions for the organization, he or she can then propose a program for attaining “Perfection.” This stage will establish a frame of action. This aspect of management will be inspired by the highest form of Righteousness defined by Zarathushtra in his Gathas as “ASHA”. This concept expresses also order, which is very important for achieving quality in an organization. In a business context, ASHA means that everything should be done correctly and precisely, in order to meet the needs of customers.

Another Zarathushtrian concept which can be applied to organizational theories of “quality” is related to progressive mentality or, in ancient Iranian language (Avestan), “SPENTA MAINYU”. “Spenta” means “progressive” – always growing (Jafarey, 1989). The actions of such a progressive mentality open the road to continuous improvement in quality management. This tool allows participants to use the “mind of the organization” for maintaining quality according to the constantly evolving and changing demands of the market. It also provides the elements for a healthy competitiveness.

The Zarathushtrian approach to quality management suggests a change in mentality that in a simple way can be described in the following steps:

To verify the mission of the organization, and what values need to be incorporated in its work.

To analyze the environment of the organization: all the factors that bear on management, work, and production

To instill and maintain the three pillars of quality (“good thoughts, good words, good actions”) in the environment and culture of the organization.

To maintain the results through a progressive mentality.

Quality management must be perceived as a life style or a way of life. It is a philosophy, and as such it must have certain premises, policies, values, and beliefs, which can be summarized and taught to the workers. The Zarathushtrian view identifies quality as moral and social values, rather than just as efficiency, profit, procedures or technology, or competitive production. It is a new way to show that quality depends above all on the human elements of an organization.

Literature Reviewed

Abreu, Jose Luis. 2000. The Ethical Dimension of Management (PhD Thesis).
U.R.B.E Press. Maracaibo, Venezuela. Spanish Version.

Abreu, Jose Luis. 2000. The History of Ethics and Its Zarathushtrian Origins.
Latin America Spenta University Foundation Press. Maracaibo, Venezuela.
English Version.

Instituto Aragones de Fomento (I.A.F). 1998. Conceptos Generales de Calidad
Total. Madrid, España.

Jafarey, Ali. 1989. The Gathas, Our Guide. Ushta Publication, California.

Rico, Ruben. 1999. Total Quality Management. Ediciones Macchi. Buenos
Aires, Argentina

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