Quality Circle Definition
Amanda, Jim, Kim, Julia, Aaron and Angelia all work for Yummy Cupcakes Company. They meet every day for lunch to discuss their families and vacation plans and exchange jokes. In addition, the six employees also meet once a week as part of a quality circle, which involves a group of employees who work in the same position or department meeting to discuss, analyze and find solutions for problems related to improving work performance.
In this lesson, we will take a look at the Yummy Cupcakes example to gain an understanding of the structure of the quality circle, the responsibility of its members and how to conduct quality circle meetings.
Quality Circle Structure
The six employees were excited to take part in a corporate quality circle. When management established the group, they came up with some key requirements to ensure the success of the quality circle. Here is the structure they established:
- Members must volunteer for the positions
- The group should consist of 6-12 members
- Circle members should be employees from the same work area or participating in the same type of work
- Members should agree to meet at a regularly planned time
- The purpose of the quality circle should be to improve total performance and quality of work life
Team Member Responsibilities
When the quality circle was established at Yummy Cupcakes, team member responsibilities were also created. First of all, Yummy Cupcakes’ top management began the implementation by asking for volunteers and explaining the overall process.
The next important part of the quality circle development was the steering committees, which are usually made up of middle management and help prioritize issues. For example, Yummy Cupcakes’ steering committee recently tasked the quality circle with making recommendations on improving working conditions. The result was better air supply and a new air conditioner to help the employees be more comfortable on the bakery production floor.
Coordinators are also important. They organize and direct the quality circle activities and ensure that the recommendations are implemented to match operations capabilities. Angelia acts as the coordinator for Yummy Cupcakes’ quality circle. She was nominated by management and helps guide the rest of the members through circle activities. In the last meeting, the members kept getting confused about how to make their recommendations for green cleaning products for the factory. Angelia was able to explain the proper request process to change supplies for the cleaning crew.
Like every other group, the quality circle has a leader, which is a person chosen by the members among themselves to provide direction and control over the group. Unlike many other companies, the quality circle members of Yummy Cupcakes have decided to rotate the leader role every six months. Currently the leader is Jim, and he helps run the meetings and assigns tasks.
Members of the quality circle at Yummy Cupcakes are the six employees (Amanda, Jim, Kim, Julia, Aaron and Angelia). The members are responsible for identifying problems and finding solutions. Any non-members of the group can still offer recommendations to the quality circle, but do not take part in weekly meetings. Now that quality circle members’ basic responsibilities have been identified, we will discuss the specific tasks that occur at the meetings.
How to Conduct Quality Circles
The six members of Yummy Cupcakes’ quality circle follow a specific problem-solving method in order to identify problems and provide effective solutions. The quality circle team’s first objective is to identify a problem facing the work team. In today’s meeting, the quality circle team, based on Julia’s observations, uncovered a potential problem regarding a piece of equipment in production.
The work team believes that management does not realize that investing in a newer piece of equipment will quickly boost overall production. The team proceeded to brainstorm within the team multiple solutions for the issue. Since Angelia acts as the team coordinator, she recommended ways to collect relevant data from corporate sources that would help their position on the equipment.
The team collected production data over the last year and equipment breakdown information to show how it was affecting the cupcake product line. Aaron and Jim provided analysis of the data using statistical tools, such as graphs and histograms. The team was able to analyze the charts at their next meeting. They then had to utilize a problem-solving technique to make recommendations. The quality circle team was able to fasten a persuasive report to convince management to invest in a more modern piece of production equipment that would boost production by 25%.
A quality circle is a group of employees who work in the same position or department and meet to discuss, analyze and find solutions for problems related to improving work performance.
A quality circle:
- Has members who volunteer for the positions
- Consists of 6-12 members
- Consists of employees from the same work area or participating in the same type of work
- Consists of members who agree to meet at a regularly planned time
- Is dedicated to improving total performance and quality of work life
Team members of a quality circle include:
- Top management, who begin the implementation process for a quality circle by asking for volunteers and explaining the overall process
- Steering committees are usually made up of middle management and help prioritize issues
- The coordinator organizes and directs the quality circle activities, ensuring that the recommendations are implemented to match operations capabilities
- The leader of the quality circle is a person chosen by the members among themselves to provide direction and control over the group
- Non-members, who offer recommendations to the quality circle, but do not take part in weekly meetings
The steps for conducting quality circles are as follows:
- Identify a problem facing the work team
- Brainstorm within the team multiple solutions to the problem
- Collect relevant data from corporate sources
- Analyze the data using statistical tools such as graphs and histograms
- Utilize a problem solving technique to make recommendations
When you are done, you should be able to:
- Explain the concept of a quality circle
- State the key requirements for a successful quality circle
- Recite the responsibilities of each of the members of a quality circle
- Discuss how to conduct a quality circle