Potential Problem

How many companies have failed in this activity and why?

The answer to this question has to come from the experience gained in Japan since 1962 when the Quality Circle concept was initiated. Dr. Ishikawa, often referred to as the “father of Quality Circle in Japan,” does not hesitate to admit that Quality Circle activities at some companies have failed. He further indicates that research into the causes of these failures has shown that there have been violation of what he calls “the essentials of success.” These include, among other things, management that supportive; voluntary participation of members; a people-building philosophy; member training in problem analysis; project that are “Circle” effort, not individual; project that are related to the members’ work; and adherence to a “win-win” style in dealing with others (both inside and outside the Circle).

How complex should projects be ?

Keep that project as simple as possible. New Circles should always start with easy-to-do projects that will put a victory under their belts and build their confidence.

What if a project turns out to be too complex?

Sometimes a Circle bites off more than it can chew. If so, the facilitator can help by locating specialists who can assist the Circle.

How are Quality Circles affected by short-and long-term employment levels?

Some companies are historically affected by fluctuating employment levels. During the down side of the cycle some of the employees are surplussed. Some will have to leave the company; others will be allowed to displace employees with less seniority. Companies with cyclical employment level report that their Quality Circle continue to operate effectively even when some of the members have been surplussed. The intrinsic strength of the Circle is adequate to surmount temporary dislocation.

How are Circle activities prioritized in regard to other business needs?

It is assumed that the question relates to a situation where scheduled priorities make it extremely difficult to conduct a Circle meeting. It is wise to hold the Circle meetings on a planned and regular basis. The realities of business sometimes preclude this. If necessary, postpone the meeting so that it doesn’t collide head-on with a scheduled emergency. Being flexible is smart in any activity; however, avoid getting into the habit of not meeting regularly. It gets easier and easier to postpone or cancel meetings, the more this is done. A recommended solution is to gather together at the designated time for the Circle meetings and to announce that problem and the tine and place of the postponed meeting. Then get back to work so that the schedule conflict will be resolved as quickly as possible.

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