Quality Time: Temporal Constraints to Continual Process Development in the Air Force   [open pdf - 2MB]

From the thesis abstract: "This work implements a deductive system-dynamics methodology to analyze the application of quality management policies to an Air Force system. The work provides an alternate explanation to the existing body of literature on the failure of Total Quality Management (TQM) and Quality Air Force (QAF) programs. The modeling and simulation in this work indicated that the time between activities and the repeatability of activities heavily impact their probability of success. Quality programs are one side of a two-sided equation; they increase the efficiency of a system thus reducing rework and waste. Simultaneously, forces of entropy or chaos continually degrade the efficiency of that same system. The strength and speed with which quality management programs can increase efficiency are directly dependent upon three time constants: the time required for a person to gain competency with a task, the time required for a unit to generate new ideas, and the time required for new ideas to be implemented and evaluated. The work argues that the length of these three time periods is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition to successfully implement quality programs. The longer these periods, the more prone to failure quality programs become. As these three time constants get longer, the strength of quality programs against entropy decreases, and the more difficult the implementation of quality programs becomes. At some point, time constants become so long that it is impossible obtain quality from process; quality must be obtained through testing and correction of deficiencies. This work also indicates that there may be systemic issues associated with capturing experience inside Air Force units. This work assists commanders in determining if the time constants of their units are amenable to quality programs."

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