QUALITY CIRCLE is a small group of employees who are engaged in one place of work. The group meets regularly to discuss specific problems related to their work area and suggest ways and means for improvement. Their suggestions are considered by the Management and feasible suggestions are implemented by the group members themselves. Therefore "Quality Circle" is basically TEAMWORK. It is a collective effort rather than an individualistic effort to solve the problems at the work-place.
Focus & Objective of QC :
The basic objectives of QC are:
- to harness the creative potential of the employees for problem solving.
- to achieve all - round excellence through involvement of people.
Quality Circle thus symbolises the TEAM SPIRIT & SYNERGY of the workforce. Since there can't be any team without human being, therefore the central point or focal point of QC is "MAN". In fact, QC is another form of HRD or Human Resource Development.
The philosophy behind QC is:
1. Every individual is creative and is endowed with the potential to bring about improvement in the work situation.
2. Improvement is a continuous and never ending process - everything at every stage can be improved.
3. Problems can be best identified and solved by those who actually perform the job on day-in-day-out basis.
4. People do not resist change, they resist being externally changed. They are capable of changing themselves.
The size of the group varies from five to eight members, which may include not more than two frontline executives at the level of Jr.Manager/ Asstt.Manager. All the members are those who are regularly associated with the particular work.
Problems to be tackled by QC
"QC" had its origin in Japan. Initially, when the movement took off in Japan it was dealing exclusively with the problems pertaining to product quality. Later on, the Japanese realised that it was such a potent and powerful tool that it could embrace all aspects of industrial working and could be applied in any field like Improvement in Quality, Productivity, Safety, House Keeping, Environment and also for Work Intensity Reduction, Energy Conservation, Inventory Saving, Import Substitution etc. In fact, anything and everything which can be conceived of under the gamut of industrial operation can come within the purview of QC.
Thus QCs can tackle problems relating to diverse areas like:
Productivity/ Quality Improvement.
Methods/ Procedure/ System Improvement.
Safety and Housekeeping.
Work Intensity Reduction.
Office Management & General Administration.
Employees' Health Management etc.
The steps involved in problem solving through QC are:
Formation of the Circle.
Selection of the Circle leader.
Identification of the problem.
Collection of facts/ data related to the problem.
Analysis of the data and finding out alternative solutions.
Selection of the best solution based on analysis.
Management approval for implementation of the chosen solution.
Implementation of the chosen solution.
Follow-up, monitoring and maintaining it.
Some of the common analytical tools found to be useful for problem solving through QC are:
Data arrangement by Frequency distribution/ Stratification/ Histogram etc.
Cause and Effect Diagram.
In addition, there are seven new problem solving tools.
i. Affinity Diagram
ii. Relations Diagram
iii. Tree Diagram
iv. Matrix Diagram
v. Matrix Data Analysis
vi. Arrow Diagram
vii. Process Design Programme Chart ( PDPC )
Benefits of QC :
A. To the employees :
Important source of job satisfaction which is not present in routine day to day job.
Provides a sense of participation to the employees.
Builds competence in employees to manage changes and prepares them better for supervisory position. Thus it helps in developing a sound human resources pool in the organisation.
Builds ability to work with others and inculcates TEAM APPROACH to problem solving.
Helps to improve work environment and methods.
B. To the organization :
Development of complete coherent problem solving methodology.
Increased production/ productivity.
Enhanced motivation of the workforce.
Improved quality of the product.
Better employer - employee relationship.