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PMM 5453

“Implementing Total Quality Management
at Thiokol Corporation”




• 1929: Thiokol Chemical Company founded.
• 1945: Charles Bartley, working for the nascent Jet Propulsion Laboratory, discovers the
use of thiokol as a stabilizer in solid-fuel rockets.[1]
• 1949: Thiokol produce the TX-18 Falcon missile, the world's first solid-fueled missile
• 1957: In anticipation of the forthcoming Minuteman contract, the company builds its
plant at Brigham City, Utah.
• 1957: Thiokol Huntsville builds XM33 Pollux missile
• 1958: Merger with Reaction Motors Inc. (RMI), makers of liquid propellant rocket motor
• 1958: Thiokol awarded contract to build the TU-122 rocket motor for the first stage of
the LGM-30 Minuteman ICBM system.
• 1959: Thiokol Huntsville produces CASTOR strap-on booster rocket, used on the Atlas
• 1974: Thiokol wins the contract to build the solid rocket booster (SRB) for the Space
Shuttle (Nov 29, 1973)
• 1978: The company sells its ski lift division to CTEC and its snow equipment division to
Logan Manufacturing Company (LMC), owned by John DeLorean.
• 1980: Acquires Carlisle Chemical Company of Cincinnati, Ohio.
• 1982: Thiokol merges with Morton-Norwich products (owners of the Morton Salt
concern, the Simoniz automotive products brand, and various chemical concerns). The
merged company is called Morton Thiokol Incorporated (MTI).
• 1986: An O-ring fault in an MTI SRB destroys Space Shuttle Challenger in flight. The
company is found at fault for the explosion and destruction of the Challenger and deaths
of the astronauts.
• 1989: Morton Thiokol splits, with most of the chemical concern going with Morton. The
propulsion systems division becomes Thiokol Inc.
• 1998: Thiokol changes name to Cordant Technologies.
• 1998: Thiokol branded polymer products purchased by PolySpec L.P., a Houston based
manufacturer of Industrial Coatings, Marine Decking, and Subsea Insulation products.
• 2000: Thiokol merges with two divisions of Alcoa and with Howmet Castings and Huck
Fasteners to become AIC Group (Alcoa Industrial Components).
• 2001: Alliant Techsystems (ATK) Inc. (a company formed when Honeywell spun off its
defense division) spends $2.9 billion buying Thiokol and related businesses from
AIC/Alcoa. ATK built the third stage of the Trident missile and had earlier bought
Hercules Aerospace Co., builder of the second stage. With the purchase of Thiokol, who
make the missile's first stage, ATK controls the lion's share of the US solid-rocket
• 2005, Thiokol wins the contract to produce the Ares I launch vehicle first stage for
NASA's Project Constellation.[1]
• 2006, Alliant Techsystems (ATK) Inc. renamed ATK-Thiokol to ATK Launch Systems

*Source : Wikipedia
Question 1

What are the factors of success in the Thiokol case? What did the firm do that led to
improvements in performance?

Thiokol has been implementing the TQ/CI (Total Quality/Continuous Improvement. To

ensure that the process is consistent with business direction, they modified the five year
strategic business plan. Workshops were conducted top down with most supervisors
going through them twice.

Process implementation teams were formed. There are departmental teams and critical
process improvement teams. These teams are responsible to map out selected major
processes, identify root causes of problems and waste, select solutions, and, most
important oversee the effective implementation of those changes.

Improved Processes:

Throughput Labor
Operational expenses

The effectiveness are measured and posted on special performance boards throughout the
business unit. Some examples of the macro measures used by THD that showed
improvements levels are rework cost with 63% improvement, customer complaints
achieved 38% improvement, inventory improved 31%, employee suggestions improved
52%, worker-hours/unit has 13% improvement, electricity cost improved 23% and union
grievances showed 35% improvement.

They also implement Employee Attitude Survey and maintain focus on external elemant
of the product and service chain, namely external customers and suppliers. THD also
identified areas as targets for significant improvement such as:
• Integration across functional boundaries
• Compensation/reward system
• Recruitment/selection
• Individual job structure
• Training/skill development
• Organization structure
• Evaluation and recognition
Question 2

What strategy for change did the company use? Did the strategy for change have
anything to do with the program’s success?

The company use the Total Quality Management (TQM) as a strategy for change.

Yes, the strategy for change have contributed towards the program’s success. Beginning
with a definition of Total Quality, a Vision Statement was written, and a Total
Quality/Continuous Improvement Executive Steering Council was established to oversee
the TQ/CQI process. The process was added to the strategic plan, and employee training
was used to encourage employee involvement, and to familiarize employees with the
TQ/CQI process. A unique, cost-effective "just-in-time" training program was instituted.
Departmental Teams formed to articulate supplier-customer relationships, define
customer expectations, evaluate departmental processes, and establish improvement
processes. Critical Process Improvement Teams formed to measure, evaluate, and
improve processes. Customers and suppliers are involved in the design, concurrent
engineering, and new product improvement. All of these TQ/CQI processes are ongoing
at Thiokol. Results after two years include double-digit improvements in indicators,
including a 40 percent reduction in quality costs, and significant reductions in union
grievances, customer complaints, energy costs, and inventory.

In addition, to assess the effectiveness of the total quality process, a variety of measures
are used at both local and macro levels. The measures are posted on special performance
boards throughout the business units and each manager is required to work with their
people to establish improvement measures for their key activities and to keep progress
chart visible in the work area.

Measurements have also become the key to the process analysis that is done by the
process improvement teams. As they map out their existing process, they assess the
amount of time and cost associated with each step in the traditional approach.
Question 3

Can the increases in performance be sustained if the culture does not change?
Explain your answer.

There are a number of methodologies specifically dedicated to organizational culture

change. These are also a variety of psychological approaches that have been developed
into a system by THD in instilling the culture for specific outcomes such as the
“corporate culture evolution.” Ideas and strategies, on the other hand, seem to vary
according to particular influences that affect culture.

The other argument is that it is 'leadership' that affects culture rather than 'management',
and describe the difference. When one wants to change an aspect of the culture of an
organization one has to keep in consideration that this is a long term project. Corporate
culture is something that is very hard to change and employees need time to get used to
the new way of organizing. For companies with a very strong and specific culture it will
be even harder to change.

1. Formulate a clear strategic vision

In order to make a cultural change effective a clear vision of the firm’s new
strategy, shared values and behaviours is needed. This vision provides the
intention and direction for the culture change.

2. Display Top-management commitment

It is very important to keep in mind that culture change must be managed from the
top of the organization, as willingness to change of the senior management is an
important indicator. The top of the organization should be very much in favour of
the change in order to actually implement the change in the rest of the
3. Model culture change at the highest level

In order to show that the management team is in favour of the change, the change
has to be notable at first at this level. The behaviour of the management needs to
symbolize the kinds of values and behaviours that should be realized in the rest of
the company. It is important that the management shows the strengths of the
current culture as well, it must be made clear that the current organizational does
not need radical changes, but just a few adjustments.

4. Modify the organization to support organizational change

The fourth step is to modify the organization to support organizational change.

5. Select and socialize newcomers and terminate deviants

A way to implement a culture is to connect it to organizational membership,

people can be selected and terminate in terms of their fit with the new culture.

6. Develop ethical and legal sensitivity

Changes in culture can lead to tensions between organizational and individual

interests, which can result in ethical and legal problems for practitioners. This is
particularly relevant for changes in employee integrity, control, equitable
treatment and job security.

Change of culture in the organizations is very important and inevitable. Culture

innovations is bound to be because it entails introducing something new and substantially
different from what prevails in existing cultures. Cultural innovation is bound to be more
difficult than cultural maintenance. People often resist changes hence it is the duty of the
management to convince people that likely gain will outweigh the losses. Besides
institutionalization, deification is another process that tends to occur in strongly
developed organizational cultures. The organization itself may come to be regarded as
precious in itself, as a source of pride, and in some sense unique. Organizational
members begin to feel a strong bond with it that transcends material returns given by the
organization, and they begin to identify with in. The organization turns into a sort of clan.

In the THD, in order to give a good atmosphere for cultural change the company has
enhanced its strategy by implementing better compensation and reward program to the
employees together with the good evaluation practice and reward system.