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Quality Circle -A way to Quality
People are the greatest assets of an
organization, because, through people all other
resources are converted into utilities. However,
management of ‘People Resources’ has always been
a vexed problem ever since the beginning of
organized human activities. A number of
managerial responses have been developed to
answer this question.
Quality Circle is a small group of 6 to 12 employees
doing similar work who voluntarily meet together
on a regular basis to identify improvements in their
respective work areas using various techniques for
analyzing and solving work related problems
coming in the way of achieving and sustaining
excellence leading to mutual upliftment of
employees as well as the organization. It is "a way
of capturing the creative and innovative power that
lies within the work force“
GENESIS OF QUALITY CIRCLES
After the Second World War Japanese economy was in
the doldrums, Americans decided to help Japan in
improving the quality standards of their products.
General Douglas Mac Arthur who, at that time, was the
commander of the occupational forces in Japan took up
the task of imparting quality awareness among Japanese
to help them improve their products and the reliability of
manufacturing systems including men, machine and
materials. Thus, by 1975, they were topping the world in
quality and productivity. This astonishing and unique
achievement in modern history became an eye – opener
to the world. Industrialists and politicians from all over
the world started visiting Japan to know how they have
achieved such magical results in such a short span. The
answer to this was painstaking and persevering efforts of
the Japanese leaders and workers and the development
and growth of the philosophy of small working groups.
Characteristics of Quality Circle
Quality circle are small primary groups of employee
whose lower limit is three and upper limit twelve.
The membership of quality circle is most voluntary .
Each circle is lead by area supervisor .
The member meet regularly every week or according
to an agreed schedule.
The circle members are specially trained in
techniques of analysis and problem solving.
The basic role of circles to identify and solve work
related problems for improving quality and
Quality circle enable their member to exercise their
hidden talents for tackling challenging tasks.
The concept of Quality Circle is primarily based upon
recognition of the value of the worker as a human
being, as someone who willingly activates on his job,
intelligence, experience, attitude and feelings. It is
based upon the human resource management
considered as one of the key factors in the
improvement of product quality & productivity.
Quality Circle concept has three major attributes:
Quality Circle is a form of participation management.
Quality Circle is a human resource development
Quality Circle is a problem solving technique.
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 Development
Bring out ‘Hidden Potential’ of people
People get to learn additional skills.
c) Development of Team Spirit
Eliminate inter departmental conflicts.
d) Improved Organizational Culture
Positive working environment.
Higher motivational level.
How Do Quality Circles Work?
All members of a Circle need to receive training
Members need to be empowered
Members need to have the support of Senior
◦ Set Rules and Priorities
◦ Decisions made by Consensus
◦ Use of organized approaches to Problem-
The Japanese description of the
effectiveness of a quality circle is
It is better for one hundred people to take one step
than for one person to take a hundred
Who works for Quality
A steering committee: This is at the top of the
structure. It is headed by a senior executive and
includes representatives from the top management
personnel and human resources development
people. It establishes policy, plans and directs the
program and meets usually once in a month.
Co-ordinator: He may be a Personnel or
Administrative officer who co-ordinates and
supervises the work of the facilitators and
administers the program.
Who works for Quality Circles?
Circle leader : Circle leader may be from lowest
level supervisors. A circle leader organize and
conduct circle activities.
Circle members : They may be staff workers.
Without circle members the program cannot exist.
They are the lifeblood of quality circles. They should
attend all meetings as far as possible, offer
suggestions and ideas, participate actively in group
process.The roles of Steering Committee and Circle
members are well defined.
The overall productivity may decrease initially.
A large investment and time is required for a
concept that is essentially new .
The chances of error increase initially .
After circle implementation a period of confusion
may arise. This is because people experiment
with new ideas , new skill and new roll.
PROCESS OF OPERATION
1- Problem identification: Identify a number of
2- Problem selection : Decide the priority and select
the problem to be taken up first.
3- Problem Analysis : Problem is clarified and
analyzed by basic problem solving methods.
4- Generate alternative solutions : Identify and
evaluate causes and generate number of possible
5- Select the most appropriate solution : Discuss and
evaluate the alternative solutions by comparisons.
This enables to select the most appropriate solution
PROCESS OF OPERATION
6- Prepare plan of action : Prepare plan of action
for converting the solution into reality which
includes the considerations "who, what, when,
where, why and how" of solving problems.
7 -Present solution to management circle:
Members present solution to management fore
8- Implementation of solution : The management
evaluates the recommended solution. Then it is
tested and if successful, implemented on a full
BASIC PROBLEM SOLVING
The following techniques are most commonly
used to analyze and solve work related
l Cause & Effect Analysis
l Data Collection & Analysis
Problems with Quality Circles
Unsure of Purpose
Not truly Voluntary
Lack of Management Interest
Quality Circles are not really empowered to make
Formation of Quality Circle
The quality circle under consideration has a leader, a
facilitator, a coordinator and four members. The
object of the present quality circle is ‘reduction of
material wastage’. This problem was so chosen for
solution because of following facts :
a) Whether there was any reduction in material
b) Whether there were any saving and financial
losses that should be minimized.
c) Whether it had any effect on the working of the
workers and relationship between workman and
Structure of Quality Circle
Non Qc - Members
Following observation were achieved after
implementation of quality circle.
Improvement of internal personal relationship
Self-confidence was developed in solving more
complex problem related to production.
A good teamwork was achieved among the
Material wastage was minimized as a result
heavy monetary gain was obtained.
Table 4 shows a percentage of contribution of
various factors that led to material loss in the given
The various reason or causes of each factor were
determined and shown in Ishikawa diagram
The causes and effect were obtained by calling
various quality circle meetings (ten) through
brainstorming session and discussion. And hence
these factors led to the result of the present study
in the following order:
Man, Machine, Method, Material
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.
Further this quality circle approach for quality
improvement in University Polytechnic workshop
may bring new dimension, shifting dependence for
decisions and actions towards existing system.
This change revealed that quest for quality service
is in the hand of all employees.
The sustenance of success will lead to total quality
improvement emerging as a centre of excellence of
its own in any small enterprise.
Statistical Quality Control : M.Mahajan
Employer-Employee Based Quality Circles in
Japan: Human Resource Policy Implications for
American Firms Author(s): George Munchus, III
Quality Circle as an Effective Management Tool
:A Case Study of Indira College of Engineering
& Management Library