Total Quality Program Planning

Article excerpt

Total Quality Program Planning (TQP) promotes continuous measurement as a way to improve quality and add value to each service and method and/or process used to create and deliver leisure programs. The TQP system requires a commitment to quality from top management as well as the active involvement and participation of each employee in the pursuit of high-quality, high-impact services. Leisure service organizations that consistently produce innovative, high-impact programs and services usually are those that are committed to quality and value in service delivery.

TQP is a comprehensive planning process that not only guides leisure service employees to produce technically correct programs, but helps leisure service programmers create leisure programs that exceed minimum requirements; that is, programs that have a special intangible quality that inspires individuals, provides heightened insight, introspection, development, and is meaningful. However, these experiences can only be produced when leaders in leisure service organizations focus on creating programs of high quality and value.

TQP is a radical departure from the way leisure service organizations have been managed in terms of programming. The process requires a fundamental change in the culture of an organization. It requires an organization to be committed to quality and value, to be alive to customers, to be committed to continuous change and the improvement of services. Listening to customers, getting feedback, and interviewing and surveying people are central to the TQP process because it is information-driven. TQP requires the creation of benchmarks, statistical analyses, and continuous measurement of achievement. In TQP, management empowers employees and encourages them to cooperate to find creative ideas for leisure programs and productive ways of accomplishing work.

What are Quality and Value?

Quality and value are not just measured by numbers of customers or meeting the break-even cost of a program; they are also measured in the customers' reactions, the way in which a program unfolds, the degree to which individuals develop and meet their needs, and the extent to which individuals genuinely, enthusiastically, and meaningfully experience leisure. In other words, quality often becomes a measure of satisfaction.

The TQP process is based on the assumption that leisure service programmers can work within their organizations to produce quality leisure programs that consistently and effectively meet, and even exceed, individuals' needs and expectations. Organizations and leisure service programmers wedded to the concept of quality and value will outperform those that are not.

Quality is often thought of as a perception of "excellence." It is an attitude that transforms leaders' efforts into purposeful, meaningful, and creative leisure programs. Quality performance requires a focus on the customers' needs as the cornerstone for creating relevant services that help individuals feel valued and appreciated. Value occurs when the return from a customer's involvement in a given leisure experience is greater than the customer's perceived investment.

How is Quality Measured?

Quality is not a measurement of "good" or "bad," but is usually described in terms of meeting established requirements. Such requirements present guidelines to help leisure service programmers meet minimum program expectations.

However, standards or requirements are often written only in terms of the minimal levels of achievement or expectation. Because TQP is directed toward exceeding expectations, an important feature is constantly improving the programs' effects, as well as the processes used to produce them. The achievement of quality and value can be measured numerically. Leisure service programmers can determine the extent to which they successfully achieve organizational requirements and can then improve upon the delivery of services. …