Insight into motivation and its role in improving quality

G U E S T  A R T I C L E

In the book ‘The new Economy’ Deming stated the four precepts of profound knowledge.

Profound Knowledge is made up of four interrelated components: 

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Appreciation of a system.

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Theory of knowledge.

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The psychology of change.

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Knowledge about variation.
Much has been written on variation through the study of statistical science. What is important in psychology for quality? A key area that helps to advance quality is being able to understand the underlying psychology of work expounded by Deming. It is the element of intrinsic motivation. People are intrinsically motivated to do a task when they have a passion for that and not solely for monetary reward. In order to arouse intrinsic motivation, employers need to foster a quality culture where the focus is on collaboration and cooperation. For instance in using teams, team members should be selected carefully to have persons who truly love to participate in those projects. Employers need to build an environment where there is some level of autonomy for employees to make decisions on how they execute their tasks. Leaders and managers are accountable to ensure compliance to policies and standards, but they have a key role as coach to foster intrinsic motivators to encourage good performance. 

When TQM became better known in the 1980’s, there were many articles on “quality control or QC circles’. QC circles typically are front line employees applying a wide range of QC tools in the improvement of localised work processes. This was followed by the formation of self-managed teams that are typically cross-functional in nature. These teams tackle tactical issues and may contribute in strategic decisions.

The paper provides basics of motivation elements as well as in-depth research by E. L. Deci and R. M. Ryan. Both of them did extensive research on motivational psychology. I believe regardless of the times, organizations will find these principles relevant. No matter how strong an organization is in technology, it is the people and process that cause the final win, or loss. 

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About the author:

HonSung Yong

HonSung Yong is an ASQ senior member since 1990. His first appointment as a quality engineer at Novatel mobile communications inspired him to earn CQE and CQA certifications in 1988. Yong is an Ontario registered engineer in industrial and manufacturing engineering. He holds BEng and MSc degrees in engineering and completed doctoral studies in quality management at Virginia Tech. He practised quality engineering in diverse industries including fiber optics, steel fabrication, medical device, and transit safety and reliability. He taught quality as senior lecturer at the City Polytechnic of Hong Kong, SAIT and the University of Calgary.


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