QUALITY CIRCLES - Production and Operations Management

Quality circle in Operation Management

The quality circles begun in Japan in 1960s. The concept of quality circles is based on the participating style of management. It assumes that productivity will improve through an uplift of morale and motivations which are in turn achieved through consultation and discussion in informal groups. One organizational mechanism for worker participation in quality is the quality circle. It is typically an informal group of people that consists of operators, supervisors, managers and so on who get together to improve ways to make the product or deliver the service.

According to Juran, quality circle defined as “a group of work force level people, usually from within one department, who volunteer to meet weekly (on company time) to address quality problems that occur within their department.”

Quality circle members select the problems and are given training is problem-solving techniques. A quality circle can be an effective productivity improvement tool because it generates new ideas and implements them. Where the introduction of quality circle is capably planned and where the company environment is supporting they are highly successful.

The benefits fall into two categories: those are measurable saving and improvement in the attitudes and behavior of people. Quality circles pursue two types of problems, those concerned with the personal well being of the worker and those concerned with the well being of company.

Benefits of QC
The most important benefit of quality circles is their effect on people’s attitudes fall into three categories:

  1. Quality Circles Effect on Individual Characteristics
    1. Quality circles enable the individual to improve personal capabilities group participation and learning specific problem-solving tools.
    2. Quality circles increase the individual’s self-respect.
    3. Quality circles help worker change certain personality characteristics shy person become as active.
  2. Quality Circles Effect on Individuals Relations with Other
    1. Quality circles increase the respect of the supervisor for the worker.
    2. Quality circles increase workers understanding of the difficulties faced by supervisors problem selection, solving and implementations.
    3. Quality circle increase management’s respect for worker.
  3. Quality Circles Effect on Workers and Their Attributes
    1. Quality circles change some workers negative attitudes.
    2. Quality circle reduces conflict stemming from the working environment.
    3. Quality circles help workers to understand better the reasons while many problems solved quickly.

    Quality circles, as a management tool, are based on the following basic principles of people:

    1. People want to do a good job.
    2. People want to be recognized as intelligent, interested employees and to participate in decisions affecting their work.
    3. People want information to better understand goals and problems of their organization and make informed decisions.
    4. Employees want recognition and responsibility and a feeling of self-esteem.

Motivational methods are not enough for successful quality circle programs. Management support, technical knowledge, and statistical procedures are essential.

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