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A Quality Circle is a volunteer group composed of workers (or even students) who meet to discuss workplace improvement, and make presentations to management with their ideas, especially relating to quality of output in order to improve the performance of the organization, and motivate and enrich the work of employees. Typical topics are improving occupational safety and health, improving product design, and improvement in manufacturing process.
The ideal size of a quality circle is from eight to ten members.
Quality circles have the advantage of continuity; the circle remains intact from project to project. (For a comparison to Quality Improvement Teams see Juran's Quality by Design.
Quality circles were first established in Japan in 1962, and Kaoru Ishikawa has been credited with their creation. The movement in Japan was coordinated by the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE).
The use of quality circles then spread beyond Japan. Quality circles have been implemented even in educational sectors in India and QCFI (Quality Circle Forum of India) is promoting such activities.
There are different quality circle tools, namely:
- The Ishikawa diagram - which shows hierarchies of causes contributing to a problem
- The Pareto Chart - which analyses different causes by frequency to illustrate the vital cause
- The PDCA-Deming wheel - Plan, Do, Check, Act, as described by W. Edwards Deming
- The Quality Book, by Greg Hutchins, published by QPE, Portland OR. 1996
- Guide to Students` Quality Circles: An Approach to Prepare Total Quality People, by Prof. Dinesh P Chapagain, Published by NQPCN, Nepal, 2006
- Innovation in the Knowledge-Based Economy:ChallengesAhead (B-Å Lundvall, 2006) Article citing the importance of the Quality Circles.
- Quality Circles in the Community College - from the Education Resources Information Center Clearinghouse for Junior Colleges, Los Angeles, California.
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