Quality Circle (QC) is a small, voluntary group of employees and their supervisor(s), comprising a team of about 8 to 10 members from the same work area or department group of staff that meets regularly to solve problems relating to their job scope or workplace. QC works on the basis of a continuous and on-going process in an organisation. Normally members of a particular QC come from the same workshop who face and share similar problems in their daily work life. Ideally, the group size should be seven or eight to give enough time to each member to actively participate and contribute to each meeting.
The philosophy is that everyone will take more interest and pride in their work if they have a share in the decision-making process or have a say in how their work should be conducted. QC gives employees greater satisfaction and motivation
A man named Kaoru Ishikawa in Japan first developed quality circles in the 1960s. The Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) were the ones who paid for the research that put the theories about behaviour science and quality control together.
Quality circles are useful because the members of the team are from the same workplace and face similar problems. This concept is a management tool that has many benefits for their own work environment. Some examples of those benefits are control and improvement of quality, more effective company communication, using employee problem-solving capabilities and more job involvement.
Although the quality circle was developed in Japan yet it spread to more than 50 countries, a development Ishikawa never foresaw. Originally, Ishikawa believed circles depended on factors unique to Japanese society. But after seeing circles thrive in Taiwan and South Korea, he theorised that circles could succeed in any country that used the Chinese alphabet. Ishikawa’s reasoning was that the Chinese alphabet, one of the most difficult writing systems in the world, can be mastered only after a great deal of study; thus, hard work and the desire for education became part of the character of those nations. Within a few years, however, the success of circles around the world led him to a new conclusion: Circles work because they appeal to the democratic nature of humankind. “Wherever they are, human beings are human beings,” Ishikawa wrote in a 1980 preface to the English translation of the Koryo.
In “How to Operate QC Circle Activities,” Ishikawa calls middle and upper management the parent-teacher association of quality control circles. Although circles were one of the earliest Japanese ideas about quality to be popularised in the West yet Ishikawa was always aware of the importance of top management support. Support from the top is a key element in Japan’s all encompassing quality strategy: company-wide quality control (CWQC), perhaps best described in Ishikawa’s What is Total Quality Control? – The Japanese Way. Ishikawa’s work with top management and CWQC covered decades. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, he developed quality control courses for executives for top managers. He also helped launch the “Annual Quality Control Conference” for top management in 1963.