Empowering excellence: Total Quality Management training for superior crop breeding services

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    CGIAR Initiative on Breeding Resources
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Breeding Research and Services (BRS) leadership recently completed an intensive Total Quality Management (TQM) training program. The training complements process management work initiated by the Initiative and contributes to providing unparalleled services to crop breeders across CGIAR.


Fortifying quality management foundations

TQM, short for Total Quality Management, is a comprehensive management strategy aimed at continually enhancing the quality of products and services. It involves all organizational employees and emphasizes meeting customer needs and surpassing their expectations through the integration of quality across all processes and functions.

TQM underscores the significance of leadership, customer satisfaction, employee participation, process improvement, and data-driven decision-making as indispensable elements for attaining organizational excellence, all of which are being seamlessly integrated within Breeding Research and Services.

The Initiative provides crop breeders across CGIAR-NARES networks with the services necessary to deliver top-tier crop varieties globally. This includes trialling and nursery services, digital solutions, crop breeding analytics, but also helping these networks to implement best processes, practices, and protocols. To ensure operational precision and efficacy, the Initiative itself is undergoing a meticulous process management exercise, scrutinizing work habits across all units.

The primary objective of this effort is to establish a robust quality management system across the Initiative, ensuring consistent delivery of services meeting the highest quality standards.


Empowering leadership for quality improvement

Leadership plays a central role in driving this forward, ensuring that all individuals, strategies, and objectives are aligned toward a shared goal of maintaining quality standards.

In light of this, the Total Quality Management (TQM) training was provided to all Breeding Research and Services key staff members responsible for delivering services within the organization.

The TQM training program is instrumental in providing leaders and staff with continuous improvement and business transformation skills. Through this program, participants acquire industry-best-practice methodologies for performance measurement, cultural change management, impactful communication, and effective collaboration across functions, geographies, and disciplines.

Comprising 5 modules – Business Process Management, Project and Program Management, Lean-driven leadership, Change Communication, and Collaboration through Process Teams, the TQM program incorporates theoretical learning, real-life cases, breakout sessions, tests, extensive case studies, and coaching for selected participants.

The exceptional success rate of the training, with all fifteen Breeding Research and Services participants passing the tests and receiving certification, underscores its effectiveness and appropriation. Feedback from participants was extremely positive, highlighting the versatility and applicability of the learning.

Sharifah Syed Alwee, Breeding Research and Services Senior Director, emphasizes the dual objectives of the training:

“The TQM training program aims to involve a community of staff in quality delivery, as well as to strengthen their capacities for personal growth. The learnings are transferable beyond CGIAR, contributing to individual progress.”

Individual progress that are already evident, according to Gustavo Teixeira, Operations Expert for the Initiative: “Participants are changing and demonstrating increased confidence and initiative in their roles. Since the beginning of the training, we’ve seen them raise and intervene; we are confident that they are ready to implement the learnings in their own units.”


Sustaining quality for the future  

In Breeding Research and Services, the constitutive elements of a quality management system are being systematically integrated, including process team organization, performance measurement, internal assessment, external auditing, process documentation, operation enhancement, and data management through Digital Solutions.

As stated by Sonja Vermeulen, CGIAR-Genetic Innovation Managing Director:

“The foundation for implementing a Quality Management System for CGIAR breeding services is in place. What’s now required from staff are: leadership support, enhanced communication, individuals’ personal targets linked to deliverables, a proactive role from breeders in demanding quality, and an emphasis on accountability — recognizing that everyone holds responsibility for a specific part of the process management work.”

As such, recognizing the dynamic nature of customer expectations, Breeding Research and Services is committed to continuous improvement. A dedicated Business Process Management unit is tasked with maintaining a structured approach to process improvement and value generation for partners. CGIAR breeding programs, projects, Centers, and national partners are encouraged to collaborate with BRS team to establish their own quality management systems. The TQM training offered can be beneficial for these initiatives. For additional details, teams are welcome to reach out to Amer Najm, Coordinator of BRS Business Process Management Unit.

To further support these efforts, new tools such as a Learning Management System and a Service Management System are being developed.

The TQM training program is an integral component of the broader quality management system strategy initiated in 2022, with invaluable support from Weber & Fritz Consulting.

In reflecting on the TQM training, Nana Kofi Abaka Amoah, Coordinator for Laboratory Shared Services, West & Central Africa, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to glean from the rich knowledge and experience shared:

“Special appreciation to the sponsor of the training, the Initiative’s leadership, for making this possible. I look forward to applying the acquired principles to empower my team towards realizing the overall quality objectives of Breeding Research and Services.”

With clear leadership, alignment of objectives, and a focus on delivering quality, Breeding Research and Services is set for continued success in meeting the service needs of CGIAR-NARES networks and beyond.



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