Quality circle; what is it? How does it work? Find out more here
Did you come all the way here to find out what a quality circle is? Lucky for you, not only will we show you what a quality circle is, but we will also show you how it works and we will discover some advantages and disadvantages of it.
Don’t waste time and keep reading to find out more about this quality circle, it’ll definitely be worth it.
What is a quality circle?
A quality circle is a group of workers who do the same or similar work, who meet regularly to identify, analyse and solve work-related problems. Normally small in size, the group is usually led by a supervisor or manager and presents its solutions to management; where possible, workers implement the solutions themselves in order to improve the performance of the organization and motivate employees
And now the question is, what is the difference between a quality circle and a meeting? Well, they do seem very similar, but there are some differences.
The biggest difference is in the procedure in meetings. These are supervised by a qualified person (known as “facilitators”), these are held regularly (for example, once a month), and the result is for the people who are able to make decisions so that the proposals of the circle can be carried out. However, the quality circle is a specially qualified meeting and it is intended to bring about changes in the company.
The concept was introduced in Japan in the 60s, by Kaoru Ishikawa, industrial chemist and business administrator, expert in quality control. This is related to the Kaizen method for continuous improvement, quality controls are really popular in Japan and part of Asia, so it is estimated that millions of Japanese workers are part of a quality circle. In the western world, these are less popular, but they are also used in many companies.
Apart from the concept of continuous improvement, another key factor in quality circles is that they involve the worker in the thorny issue of quality control, instead of delegating this task to a specialized department. By doing this, it would increase the control effectiveness and it would achieve greater integration for the worker in the company and it would also reach the objectives of excellence within the company.
How does a quality circle work?
The operation of a quality circle is not complex, but in order for a quality circle to work, it is required to be quite methodical.
The groups are usually small, from 5 to 10 people, in order to encourage the exchange of ideas. In this group, everyone has the same position, no one predominates over the rest, and a person (chosen by everyone) will be the voice of the group, this person may vary according to the time or the issues. At the same time, the group as a whole will be supervised by the “facilitator”, who will be a specialist in the matter and who will be in charge of guiding the circle, without influencing the decision-making.
There are more key elements. The groups are formed by volunteers who seek to solve problems or to make specific improvements. In other words, meetings are not held to solve all the problems of the area or department at the same time, but to face specific situations, there you have the philosophy of “continuous improvement” (there will always be something to improve). Therefore, it is also required that the circles meet regularly (since there will always be something to improve).
Advantages of a quality circle.
-A quality circle can be very effective when solving specific problems.
That’s what a quality circle is meant to do, and sometimes a quality circle achieves its goals very effectively. Facing specific problems is the best way to obtain solutions. And if these problems are also intended to reach people trained to make decisions, then the company will improve.
-A quality circle encourages teamwork and motivation.
Due to these group decisions, the members of the quality circles feel more integrated into the company and they also learn to work in groups. By being part of a group they will also feel happier within the company and they will feel encouraged and proud to generate ideas for the company.
Disadvantages of a quality circle.
-It will not be easy.
Remember that being part of a quality circle is a voluntary act, so it will not be easy to find people who want to be part of it. If the workers are forced to be part of it, then most of the time there will be discouraged members who will contribute little or nothing.
-It might not be effective.
A quality circle method is not perfect and problems might arise.
For example, changes may be difficult to be implemented and these changes might not be effective in the long-term. Or they may be good from the point of view of the workers, but unfeasible or counterproductive from a business point of view. To evaluate those proposals it will be necessary to make a detailed study of them.
-Some executives might destroy its value.
Sometimes decision-makers may choose the wrong decision to disregard the ideas provided by a quality circle. Whether due to prejudices, or because someone does not want to carry out the analysis of the solutions provided in these situations, the work of the circles will become useless.
As you can see, a quality circle is an improvement in the internal communication of the company, which will increase the productivity.
In addition to a quality circle, there are technological tools that can help you improve the internal communication of your company. Have you ever heard of Integria IMS? Integria IMS is software with multiple features; one of them is a help desk tool that can be used to solve problems and ideas in your company. Do you want to know how does it work? You can send us your questions here.
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