What are they?
Definition: “A quality circle is a volunteer group composed of workers, usually under the leadership of their supervisor (or elected leader), who are trained to identify, analyze and solve work-related problems and present their solutions to management in order to improve the performance of the organization, and motivate and enrich the work of employees.” Wikepedia
They are formal groups that meet at periodic intervals to discuss problems and suggest solutions within their company or department. These people are usually trained by specialist who have been trained in human factors and other skills such as; problem identification, information gathering and analysis, basic statistics, and solution generation. They then present their solutions to management in order to improve the performance of the organization, and motivate and enrich the work of employees.
Quality circles were developed in Japan in the 1960’s by Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa. The purpose of the quality circles were to prevent defects from arising during production rather that post production inspection. In just a few short years later Japan had become leaders in topping the world in quality and productivity. Many people visited Japan to learn their secret of coming from behind and moving to the top. This made the Quality Circle concept accepted all over the world. IN the United States, the quality circle movement evolved to broader goals which included cost reduction, productivity improvement, employee, employee involvement, and problem-solving activities.
• Analyze the context of a problem and its situation
• Define exactly what the problem is and the relationship between its component parts
• Identify and verify that the causes are indeed causes, ensuring that solutions address the real problem
• Define, quantify and measure the impact of a given problem
• Understand the quality objectives
• Create a solution to a given problem