I joined corporate life during the TQM era and was constantly fed this going phrase “Walk the talk”. Most organizations at that time started competing on who was a better TQM organization and the best TQM benchmark practices started getting created. One of the important benchmark practice was to treat all employees equally and provide certain classless benefits.
In my organization we had a common lunch room where everybody ate the same food from CEO to the worker. We would highlight that as the biggest achievement of TQM. The second biggest was providing open parking slots to people where there were no reservations for anybody including the CEO. This was very big as every manager in the company was provided a car.
Lets take the lunch situation, everything else was common, except that while others would pick up the plates and spoons on their own, Vice President and above were provided an extra benefit of a person standing there who will pick up the plate for them and hand it over with a spoon and a PAPER NAPKIN.
Lets look at parking. One day a few people in my office who saw my car parked at a spot came up and warned me that I had parked my vehicle at Mr VP’s reserved parking slot and there is going to be serious repercussions. I did not believe this. Within 15 mins I was dragged out of an important meeting, given serious lecture by the admin department about parking in the reserved slot and made to remove my car that very moment. This is where TQM took over, within 15 mins Mr VP called me personally and apologized for the behaviour of the admin department. I was impressed as this was walk the talk, till people around told me this was a drama which had been enacted many times. After about 4 months I decided to test this and parked my car at the same slot. Within 15 mins admin called, gave lecture, I removed car and within another 15 mins Mr VP called to apologize. I could only laugh.
The situation became more funny when Mr VP was quoted in all TQM sessions and was projected as the father of the TQM movement in our company. No doubt TQM died a natural death.