What is Quality Circle?
A quality circle or a quality control circle is a group of individuals who do a similar type of work in an organization and who meet on a regular basis to identify, analyze, and find solutions to work-related problems. Generally, quality circles are small group gatherings with a minimum of three and a maximum of twelve members. These circles are usually led by a supervisor or the manager who is in charge of the particular production function. Supervisors or managers present the solutions for the discussed problems to the management of the business organization.
If possible, the employees of the organization discuss and implement solutions themselves when necessary with the intention of improving the performance of the production process and motivating the employees. It can be helpful in increasing the productivity of the entire production process.
History of Quality Circles
Quality circles were initially introduced in the 1950s by W. Edwards Deming. He described Toyota as an ideal example of the quality circle practice. In 1962, the idea of quality circles has formalized across Japan by Kaoru Ishikawa.
By 1978, it was claimed by JUSE that there were more than one million quality circles in Japan involving around 10 million Japanese workers and helping them to improve the production quality. As of 2015, the concept of quality circle formation has spread across most East Asian countries.
Purpose of Quality Circles
The purpose of conducting quality circles is to encourage employees to share the work-related problem they face and help them to improve performance by finding solutions to those problems. At the same time, it is expected to minimize production errors, improve the productivity of the business process, and motivate employees by providing solutions to their problems.
Usually, the main concerns of quality circles are issues such as improvement of the manufacturing process, improvements in the working environment, and occupational health and safety issues.
The below objects are expected to fulfill by the formation of quality circles.
– create a healthy and motivating working environment for the employees to work with self-encouragement
– Explore and identify hidden skills and potentials of the employees through continuous communication and use those capabilities to improve the production process
– Improve the quality of the production process and minimize errors and faults
– Improve employee engagement, team communication skills, creativity, and business innovation through education, training, and development programs.
– To contribute towards the productivity improvement and development of the business organization.
Advantages of Quality Circles
– Helps to develop employee positive attitude towards the workplace by creating a feeling of importance, helping to identify the work-related issues they are facing, and their ideas to improve the production process
– Create employee motivation by concentrating their issues individually and by providing them with necessary solutions
– Improve teamwork skills, knowledge sharing skills, and innovation skills within the quality circle
– Increase total production quality by improving the production process and by eliminating or minimizing faults
Disadvantages of Quality Circles
– Lack of knowledge of employees about the purpose of the quality circle
– Employee hesitation to express their ideas, issues, and proposals openly to the managers or the supervisors.
– Unwillingness to participate in the quality circle meetings and unwillingness to express their honest opinion
– Not receiving enough training and development options to improve employee skills and capabilities
– Lack of management support in solving recognized problems
– Not having enough authority for the quality circles to make decisions to improve business process
Even though there are a few disadvantages of forming quality circles, the overall impact that can create by a quality circle is highly advantageous for both employees and the business organization. Due to this reason, many business organizations that are concerned about continuous quality improvement focus on implementing quality circles within the production process.