Quality Circle -A way to QualityImprovementINTRODUCTION People are the greatest assets of anorganization, because, through people all otherresources are converted into utilities. However,management of ‘People Resources’ has always beena vexed problem ever since the beginning oforganized human activities. A number ofmanagerial responses have been developed toanswer this question.
DEFINITIONQuality Circle is a small group of 6 to 12 employeesdoing similar work who voluntarily meet togetheron a regular basis to identify improvements in theirrespective work areas using various techniques foranalyzing and solving work related problemscoming in the way of achieving and sustainingexcellence leading to mutual upliftment ofemployees as well as the organization. It is "a wayof capturing the creative and innovative power thatlies within the work force“
GENESIS OF QUALITY CIRCLESAfter the Second World War Japanese economy was inthe doldrums, Americans decided to help Japan inimproving the quality standards of their products.General Douglas Mac Arthur who, at that time, was thecommander of the occupational forces in Japan took upthe task of imparting quality awareness among Japaneseto help them improve their products and the reliability ofmanufacturing systems including men, machine andmaterials. Thus, by 1975, they were topping the world inquality and productivity. This astonishing and uniqueachievement in modern history became an eye – openerto the world. Industrialists and politicians from all overthe world started visiting Japan to know how they haveachieved such magical results in such a short span. Theanswer to this was painstaking and persevering efforts ofthe Japanese leaders and workers and the developmentand 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 productivity. Quality circle enable their member to exercise their hidden talents for tackling challenging tasks.
CONCEPTThe concept of Quality Circle is primarily based uponrecognition of the value of the worker as a humanbeing, as someone who willingly activates on his job,intelligence, experience, attitude and feelings. It isbased upon the human resource managementconsidered as one of the key factors in theimprovement 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 developmenttechnique.Quality Circle is a problem solving technique.
OBJECTIVEThe 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 lifethrough humanization of workb) Self DevelopmentBring out ‘Hidden Potential’ of peoplePeople get to learn additional skills.c) Development of Team SpiritEliminate inter departmental conflicts.d) Improved Organizational CulturePositive 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 Management Characteristics ◦ Volunteers ◦ Set Rules and Priorities ◦ Decisions made by Consensus ◦ Use of organized approaches to Problem- Solving
The Japanese description of theeffectiveness of a quality circle isexpressed as: It is better for one hundred people to take one step than for one person to take a hundred
Who works for Quality Circles?A steering committee: This is at the top of thestructure. It is headed by a senior executive andincludes representatives from the top managementpersonnel and human resources developmentpeople. It establishes policy, plans and directs theprogram and meets usually once in a month.Co-ordinator: He may be a Personnel orAdministrative officer who co-ordinates andsupervises the work of the facilitators andadministers the program.
. Who works for Quality Circles?Cont….Circle leader : Circle leader may be from lowestlevel supervisors. A circle leader organize andconduct circle activities.Circle members : They may be staff workers.Without circle members the program cannot exist.They are the lifeblood of quality circles. They shouldattend all meetings as far as possible, offersuggestions and ideas, participate actively in groupprocess.The roles of Steering Committee and Circlemembers are well defined.
Limitations: 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 OPERATION1- Problem identification: Identify a number ofproblems.2- Problem selection : Decide the priority and selectthe problem to be taken up first.3- Problem Analysis : Problem is clarified andanalyzed by basic problem solving methods.4- Generate alternative solutions : Identify andevaluate causes and generate number of possiblealternative solutions.5- Select the most appropriate solution : Discuss andevaluate the alternative solutions by comparisons.This enables to select the most appropriate solution
PROCESS OF OPERATIONcont….6- Prepare plan of action : Prepare plan of actionfor converting the solution into reality whichincludes the considerations "who, what, when,where, why and how" of solving problems.7 -Present solution to management circle:Members present solution to management foreapproval.8- Implementation of solution : The managementevaluates the recommended solution. Then it istested and if successful, implemented on a fullscale .
BASIC PROBLEM SOLVING TECHNIQUESThe following techniques are most commonlyused to analyze and solve work relatedproblems. lBrain storming lPareto analysis l Cause & Effect Analysis l Data Collection & Analysis
Problems with Quality CirclesInadequate TrainingUnsure of PurposeNot truly VoluntaryLack of Management InterestQuality Circles are not really empowered to makedecisions
Formation of Quality CircleThe 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 wastage.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 management.
Structure of Quality Circle Top Management Steering committee Co-ordinator Facilitator Leader Members Non Qc - Members
DISCUSSION ANDCONCLUSIONFollowing 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 workman Material wastage was minimized as a result heavy monetary gain was obtained.
DISCUSSION ANDCONCLUSION cont… Table 4 shows a percentage of contribution of various factors that led to material loss in the given order. The various reason or causes of each factor were determined and shown in Ishikawa diagram (Fishbone 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
DISCUSSION ANDCONCLUSION cont… 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.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION cont… 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.
References 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