The term quality circles refers to small groups of line employees (usually ten or fewer) who meet periodically outside of regular work hours to discuss ways to improve the quality of products they produce and the efficiency and effectiveness of the production processes they oversee. Although nominally voluntary, supervisors typically initiate quality circles, and attendance is considered by employees as a required part of their jobs. Proponents consider quality circles an effective way to foster a sense of involvement and to effectively harness the knowledge and expertise of lower-ranking workers. According to a 1994 Japanese Ministry of Labor report, 70 percent of Japanese firms with over five thousand workers and 61 percent of firms with one to five thousand employees have established groups of this kind.
The inspiration for the development of quality circles is attributed to American advisers W. Edwards Deming and Joseph Juran, who were brought to Japan under U.S. sponsorship in the early 1950s to help Japanese industry address rampant quality problems. The American statistical quality control techniques that were introduced at this time were then adapted to the Japanese context during the late 1950s and early 1960s as part of the Total Quality Control (TQC) movement promoted throughout Japanese industry
by the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) with government backing. What was distinctive about the JUSE's effort was its emphasis on moving responsibility for quality control out of the exclusive ken of specialized staff employees to include rank-and-file line workers. Quality circles first emerged in the early 1960s as study groups devoted to discussing JUSE publications. The JUSE subsequently established regional quality circle promotion offices and held quality circle conventions and other gatherings. A primary motivation on the part of Japanese managers in encouraging quality circles was the fear that Japanese manufacturers would lose out to foreign competition as Japanese trade rules were liberalized. There was also a concern about radicalism and alienation among younger workers.
Quality circles were considered one of the secrets of Japanese industrial success during the 1980s boom in foreign interest in Japanese management techniques. Japanese firms introduced quality circles in their overseas subsidiaries, and they have been an important component in the Japanese government's international technical cooperation programs. The Singaporean government has gone so far as to establish an award for the country's most outstanding quality circles.
[...] Scribe: The scribe notes down the ideas contributed by members on a flip chart or white-board, so that they are visible to everyone. This can be done on computer, also if projection is done directly through the computers. Timekeeper: The timekeeper monitors how long the group is taking to accomplish its tasks. He/ she also provide regular updates to make group members aware of where they are. Participants: They are also called Secondary Facilitators. Apart from participating and contributing ideas they also share responsibility with the primary facilitator for a successful group session. [...]
[...] Thorough knowledge of the global economy, fanatic obsession with quality increased focus on employee professionalism, practice self reinvention, and above all possession or acquisition of global leaders are some of the strategies which can give birth to thoroughbred companies, rightly known as world class organization What is Quality Management Total Quality Management (TQM) is systematic problem solving for continuous improvement. It is both a philosophy (based on Edward Deming) and a set of guiding principles that represent the foundation of the continuous improvement process within an organization. [...]
[...] Keiretsu: A grouping of Japanese firms through historic associations and equity interlocks such that each firm maintains its operational independence but establishes permanent relations with other firms in its group. Poka Yoke: A mistake-proofing device or procedure to prevent a defect during order taking or manufacture. Quality Function Deployment A visual decision making procedure for multi-skilled project teams which develops a common understanding of the voice of the customer and a consensus on the final engineering specifications of the product that has the commitment of the entire team. [...]
[...] * They operate on the principle that employee participation in decision- making and problem-solving improves the quality of wo Characteristics of quality circle:- * Volunteers * Set Rules and Priorities * Decisions made by Consensus * Use of organized approaches to Problem-Solvin * All members of a Circle need to receive training * Members need to be empowered * Members need to have the support of Senior Management How Can They be Used in an Organization? * Increase Productivity * Improve Quality * Boost Employee Morale Real World Example * At Penn State University in 1983, a Quality Circle was formed by Professor Hirshfield, a Professor of East Asia History. [...]
[...] A Quality Circle is a small group of employees from the same work area who voluntarily meet at regular intervals to identify, analyze, and resolve work related problems. This can not only improve the performance of any organization, but also motivate and enrich the work life of employees. The use of Quality Circles in many highly innovative companies in the Scandinavian countries has been proven. The practice of it is recommended by many economist/business scholars. The Image Quality Circle QUALITY CIRCLE INTEGRATED WITH TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT Historical Background and why an organization should institutionalize this concept. [...]
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