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Feb 14, 2010

Quality Circles

What is a Quality Circle?

Voluntary groups of employees who work on similar tasks or share an area of responsibility. They agree to meet on a regular basis to discuss & solve problems related to work. They operate on the principle that employee participation in decision-making and problem solving improves the quality of work


The objectives of Quality Circles are multi-faced.a) Change in Attitude.From "I don’t care" to "I do care" Continuous improvement in quality of work life through humanization of work.b) Self DevelopmentBring out ‘Hidden Potential’ of peoplePeople get to learn additional skills.c) Development of Team SpiritIndividual Vs Team – "I could not do but we did it"Eliminate inter departmental conflicts.d) Improved Organizational CulturePositive working environment.Total involvement of people at all levels.Higher motivational level.Participate Management process

How Do Quality Circles Work?

- Volunteers
- Set Rules and Priorities
- Decisions made by Consensus
- Use of organized approaches to Problem-Solving
- 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, Professor Hirshfield, a Professor of East Asia History, formed a Quality Circle. Selected 8 Students from a large lecture class
Resulted in increased involvement from the class.

Team Exercise

Break down into teams of 6-8 people. Establish a leader and rules for your Circle
Have a brainstorming and problem-solving session to resolve the issue. A Collegiate class on Statistical Analysis has a total enrollment of 45 people.
Average attendance is 18 students the class consists mainly of lectures
How can the professor of this class improve the quality of this course and increase student involvement?

Problems with Quality Circles

• Inadequate Training
• Unsure of Purpose
• Not truly Voluntary
• Lack of Management Interest
• Quality Circles are not really empowered to make decisions.

It took more than two decades for the quality control concept to get acceptance in India, after its introduction in Japan. This may be due to the differences in the industrial context in the two countries. Japan needed it for its survival in a competitive market. India had a reasonably protected, sellers market, with consequent lethargy towards efforts to improve quality and productivity. However, with the policy of liberalization of economy and privatization of infrastructure development, contexts changed. The concept now needs to be looked upon as a necessity.

Summary of History and Practices

Quality Circles were first seen in the United States in the 1950’s. Dr, Kaoru Ishikawa in Japan in the 1960’s, developed quality circles. Quality circles were re-exported to the US in the early 1970’s.
1980’s brought Total Quality Management and a reduction in the use of Quality Circles. Quality Circles can be a useful tool if used properly

Quality Circles are not limited to manufacturing firms only. They are applicable for variety of organizations where there is scope for group based solution of work related problems. Quality Circles are relevant for factories, firms, schools, hospitals, universities, research institutes, banks, government offices etc.