Number of members ranging from 3-12 people. They focus on specific issues to resolve problems. They generally meet weekly to analyze work related problems and propose solutions to Management and where possible implement those solutions. Members also tend to generate a mutual respect and trust as they work on solutions, which is conducive for collaborating as a team.
Participation in Quality Circles needs to strictly be voluntary. If members are forced to participate, it does not allow for a conducive team building environment. The members of the Quality Circle set the rules and prioritizes/selects problems that will be approached and discussed by the team. All decisions are made by consensus, encouraging open communication. Organized problem-solving should be utilized, which would include brainstorming and cause-and-effect diagramming. This organized approach also prevents the circles from holding unproductive sessions as well.
Ishikawa, when developing this concept always believed that everybody should be properly trained to use the 7 Tools of Quality Control: 1. Pareto Charts 2. Cause and Effect Diagrams 3. Stratification 4. Check Sheets 5. Histograms 6. Scatter Diagrams 7. Control Charts and Graphs He also believed that the circles should be empowered enough to see their recommendations through. Along with empowerment, it is expected to have management support. Many times Circles have collapsed due management lack of interest or interference.
Quality Circles can be used in any organization, whether it is Manufacturing, Service, Health Care, Education, etc. They can be used to increase productivity…as an example, members can develop ways to decrease lead times for products. They can be used to help improve quality of services as well as products. If there are issues, members can analyze the process and come up with solutions to make it better. This will improve quality and likely increase productivity as well.
Hirshfield, selected 8 students for this endeavor and had them study the purpose and operation of Quality Circles and used the methods that they learned to determine the type and frequency of written assignments, the content of lectures and the method to be used for testing. The decisions made by the Circle resulted in change to the course structure and content. Some of the actions were the use of daily outlines , increased student participation in the selection of poetry and films used in class, and urged the use of contemporary analysis to illustrate the use of course material to modern problems. Hirshfield felt that Quality Circles are a valuable academic tool. It provided students with experience in decision making and problem solving as well as an increase in student familiarity with course material.
Introduction into class exercise.
Allowing a brainstorming exercise on a topic that the students are familiar with permits them to understand the theory better and so they can see it used in different environments.
A lack of understanding what Quality Circles may cause management to be reluctant to initiate circles, act upon circle suggestions or being eager for quick solutions, may implement too early. Some circles are not given a clear purpose or direction. Without having a clear purpose it is difficult to be a productive team. There are times that members are assigned to circles instead of volunteering. Under circumstances like this, the employee at times is reluctant to be part of the team. Management loss of interest in the project that the circle is working on is also a hindrance in the success of the circle. Without empowerment and support of the management staff, circles will not have the resources provided to them to be successful.
Brief History of the origins of Quality Circles.
In the 1980’s, the introduction of the new idea of Total Quality Management replaced a lot of the Quality Circles in the United States and was more successful. Circles can be a useful tool as long as the key factors in a successful Circle are maintained: volunteers, management support, and employee empowerment.
Quality CirclesBy : Terri Spahr
Overview What are Quality Circles? How Do Quality Circles Work? How Can They be Used in an Organization? Example and Activity Problems with Quality Circles Summary of History and Practices Bibliography
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
How Do Quality CirclesWork?• Characteristics – Volunteers – Set Rules and Priorities – Decisions made by Consensus – Use of organized approaches to Problem-Solving
How Do Quality CirclesWork?• 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 Usedin 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. – 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 on the next slide
Team Exercise• 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 QualityCircles• Inadequate Training• Unsure of Purpose• Not truly Voluntary• Lack of Management Interest• Quality Circles are not really empowered to make decisions.
Summary of History andPractices• Quality Circles were first seen in the United States in the 1950’s• Circles were developed by Dr, Kaoru Ishikawa in Japan in the 1960’s• Circles were re-exported to the US in the early 1970’s
Summary of History andPractices• 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
Bibliography• Cole, Robert E. 1999. Managing Quality Fads: How American Business Learned to Play the Quality Game. New York, NY: Oxford Press.• Aubrey, Charles A. 1988. Teamwork: Involving People in Quality and Productivity Improvement. Milwaukee, WI: Quality Press.• Foster, S. Thomas. 2001. Managing Quality: An Integrative Approach. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Bibliography• Author Unknown. 1984. Quality Circles in the Community College [online]. Available online via http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed3• Author Unknown. 1994. Kaizen and Quality Circles [online]. Available online via http://sol.brunel.ac.uk/~jarvis/bola/quality/circle http://sol.brunel.ac.uk/~jarvis/bola/quality/circl