Quality circle is an aid to HRA. Quality circle is defined as a small group of people engaged in similar work who meet voluntarily on regular basis under the leadership of their supervisors to identity and discuss their work problems, analyse the causes thereof and recommend the solutions to superiors and to implement the solutions themselves.

According to Wendell L. French Basically “a quality circle is a group of employees usually from seven to ten from the same unit who voluntarily meet together regularly, usually for one hour a week to identify, analyse and make recommendations about quality problems and other production problems in their area.”

A quality circle is a group of five to ten employees that meets regularly to solve problems affecting its work unit. This group carries on continuously activities for the improvement of quality within the workplace. Generally, there are several qualities, circles in an organisation. They take over the responsibility for solving quality problems. They generate and evaluate their own feedback. But management typically retains control over the final decision regarding implementation of recommended solutions.

Learn about:- 1. Meaning of Quality Circle 2. History of Quality Circle 3. Concepts 4. Objectives and Purpose 5. Feature 6. Structure 7. Pre-Requisites 8. Role of Management 9. Advantages 10. Pitfalls and Remedies 11. Techniques for Solving Problems.

Quality Circle: Meaning, History, Concepts, Objectives, Features, Advantages, Role and Techniques for Solving Problems



  1. Meaning of Quality Circle
  2. History of Quality Circle
  3. Concepts of Quality Circle
  4. Objectives and Purpose of Quality Circle
  5. Feature of Quality Circle
  6. Structure of Quality Circle
  7. Pre-Requisites of Quality Control Programme
  8. Role of Management in Quality Circle
  9. Advantages of Quality Circle
  10. Pitfalls in Quality Circles and their Remedies
  11. Techniques for Solving for Quality Circle Problems

Quality Circle  Meaning

The term ‘Quality Circle’ means a small group formed with employees working in the same department, on voluntary basis, to identify, discuss and analyse problems and suggest solutions in the quality related issues in the regularly held meeting on company time. It is some sort of improvement group which solves problems of the workplace / work areas to produce quality goods and to deliver the same to the satisfaction of customers.

Quality Circle is an aid to HRA. Quality circle is defined as a small group of people engaged in similar work who meet voluntarily on regular basis under the leadership of their supervisors to identity and discuss their work problems, analyse the causes thereof and recommend the solutions to superiors and to implement the solutions themselves.

Thus quality circles are voluntary association of workers of the same work place. It involves people in solving work problems. According to Kaoru Ishikawa, “a small group of five to ten workers voluntarily performing quality control activities within the workshop to which they belong.”


According to Wendell L. French Basically “a quality circle is a group of employees usually from seven to ten from the same unit who voluntarily meet together regularly, usually for one hour a week to identify, analyse and make recommendations about quality problems and other production problems in their area.”

Quality circle is a recent and rapidly growing concept, it has emerged in Japan through the Americans. W.E. Deming and Joseph Juran in 1950. Quality Circle efforts are centred round the improvement of quality in their shops, output, working life and human relations in the organizations.

There may be a number of quality circles in an organization depending upon its size and nature of activities. Each circle may consist of one leader and about ten workers drawn from various departments. The leader must be more knowledgeable and involved in the actual work area.

This leader has to look after training of its member leads the discussion and records the suggestions. The members would be trained on the techniques and tools relating to quality control and other requirements. Quality circles create awareness among employees regarding their potentials and capacities and their contributions to the organizations and improvement in quality.


There may be a number of quality circles, therefore a co-coordinator called as facilitator is chosen to co-ordinate the working of various quality circles. A steering committee is formed for the guidance of quality circles.

Senior officers of different departments may be members of steering committee they formulate policies and procedures of the programmes of quality circles and keeps proper control on implementation of their suggestions and moreover rewarding for excellence of work done by, the circles.

A quality circles sit together once in a week their group leader and facilitator. Problems such as breakdowns, machinery problems, possible hazards, input bottlenecks, quality improvement, quality problems, production problems, and so on are brought out at the 1st phase.

A careful study is prepared to handle and prevent the problems. In the second phase, members puts forth their ideas for solving the problems. The third phase consists of data collection and its analysis which vary critical part of it. In the fourth phase decision is taken up, which means solution on the problem would be find out and the same will be implemented.

Quality Circle – History

Though the Quality Circles had been in operation with different names in India the credit of developing the concept has gone to the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (HUSE) along with Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa of Mushashi Institute of Technology, Tokyo. In fact, R.S. Dwivedi, 17 rightly felt that, historically Gun Mandal (Quality Circles) have been used in different social, religious and political settings since the dawn of Indian Civilization to enhance ‘Satvic Qualities’ (i.e., urge for excellence, knowledge and concern for others, interest, trust and confidence, self- actualisation etc.) minimise rajasic (urge for economic resources, authority and power, concern for personal interest, restlessness and tension, craze for ego inflation etc.) and tamasic qualities (i.e., proneness to error, indolence and wickedness, urge to exploit and damage others, distrust, loss of self-identity etc.)


Non-application of the science of Bhagavad Gita and Vedas to industrial and business organisation is one of the reasons for dependence of Indian organisations on the techniques developed in foreign countries. The concept of quality circles is not an exception to it. It was in 1961 that Dr. Ishikawa conceived the idea of Quality Control Circles and wrote about it in a journal “Gemba to QC” (Quality Control for the Foreman) brought out by HUSE, in which he became an important functionary. He appealed to the workmen and supervisors to form Quality Circles, whereupon they will be given the necessary simple statistical Quality Control tools with which they can analyse and solve work related problems after identifying them. In 1962, 20 circles were registered with HUSE; the number of circles steadily grew to 1.3 million covering 13 million members in 1986.

Quality Circle – Concepts

The concept of quality circle (QC) has emerged from quality control. Comprehensive quality control is the effort of an organization to develop, design, manufacture, inspect, market, and service products that will satisfy the customers. In Western countries, this was attempted to achieve through quality control department though the result was not satisfactory to the maximum possible extent.

As against this, Japanese system of management integrated quality control with manufacturing department which gave the idea of quality control circle or simply quality circle.


Quality circle is a small group of employees of the same work area who meet regularly to discuss their work problems, investigate causes, and recommend solutions or take corrective actions. This group carries on continuously. The members receive training in problem solving, statistical quality control, and group processes.

The three concepts viz., participative in management, employee empowerment and quality circles are more or less similar in their purpose, but widely vary in their approach.

The similarities include:

i. The purpose of all the three concepts is to involve the employee in decision-making process as well as in management.


ii. Encourage the employee to express his/her views, opinions and share experiences.

iii. Encourage the employee to take part in implementing the decision taken.

A quality circle is a group of five to ten employees that meets regularly to solve problems affecting its work unit. This group carries on continuously activities for the improvement of quality within the workplace. Generally, there are several qualities, circles in an organisation. They take over the responsibility for solving quality problems. They generate and evaluate their own feedback. But management typically retains control over the final decision regarding implementation of recommended solutions.

The concept of Quality circle emerged from quality control. Quality circles are quite popular in Japan. It should be noted that quality circles provide a future-oriented approach. They seek high quality products in the current production run and in the future. Looking at their success, now U.S.A., & India have also attempted to implement quality circles.

The quality circles are relatively autonomous units ideally about 10 workers, usually led by a supervisor or a senior workers and organised as work unit. The workers, who have a shared area of responsibility, meet periodically to discuss, analyse, and propose solutions to ongoing problems.

Concept Quality Circles in India:

The concept of QC has entered Indian organizations recently but the concept is catching the attention of many organizations. Many companies have tried out QCs. Some have succeeded, others had to abort half way and some others have just introduced it and are in the experimenting stage. Some companies which have implemented QC programmes successfully are BHEL, Mahindra & Mahindra, SKF, Maruti Suzuki, Xerox Modicorp, Modi Rubber, and so, on.

For creating awareness and imparting skills in implementing QC concept in Indian organizations, Quality Circle Forum of India (QCFI) was founded in 1982. It is a non-political, non-profit organization. Initially, the Forum concentrated on developing QCs in industrial sector.

However, over the period of time, the Forum has made efforts in other areas too particularly in service sector. The Forum has established Quality Circle Excellent Centre (QCEC) which is an institution of learning. It provides various types of training related to establishment and operation of QCs.

Indian organizations have not established QCs on the same scale as Japanese organizations have done. This is probably due to the fact that QCs require very high level of participation which Indian organizations lack

Quality Circle – Objectives and Purpose

S. Ingle (1985) has identified objectives of quality circles which are related to people and task. The principle objective of Qc is to ensure delivery of the quality goods and services to confront challenges against competitors so that organization can survive, grow and develop.

So the objectives of Qc include:

i. Self-development

ii. Mutual development

iii. Satisfaction of psychological needs

iv. Improvement in communication and attitude

v. Problem prevention

vi. Team building

vii. Linkage among people

viii. People improvement

ix. Participation

x. Reduction of absenteeism and grievances

xi. Improvement in quality

xii. Reduction of wastes, scraps

xiii. Reduction of cost

xiv. Improvement in productivity

xv. Safety improvement

xvi. Problem solving

xvii. Promoting human relation

xviii. Reduction of error

xix. Creation of a reservoir of committed workforce

xx. Promoting sense of belongingness.

Purpose of Quality Circles:

Quality circles are generally guided by the following purpose:

(i) Contribution to improvement and development of the organisation.

(ii) Develop human capabilities fully and eventually draw out infinite possibilities.

(iii) Build a happy workplace worthwhile to work.

(iv) Encouragement of innovative, ideas among the employees, and

(v) Building high morale of employees by developing team work in the organisation

Quality Circle – 6 Main Features

Quality circle is one of participative methods used in industrial settings.

The main features of QC are as follows:

(i) It is a small group. The total number of group members is generally 4 to 12 depending upon the size of the department / work area.

(ii) It consists of volunteers.

(iii) It holds regular meeting once in a week/fortnight or month for a specific period, during working hours.

(iv) The leader of the group is elected by the group members.

(v) It is an employee-talent search process for effective and smooth running of departmental activities.

(vi) It identifies problems, analyses problems, recommends solution, implements accepted proposals, reviews results and takes follow up action.

From the above it is clear that quality circle is a small group of volunteers usually 4 to 12 depending upon the size of the work areas, who are engaged in work related problems and who hold meeting regularly to identify, analyse and resolve such problems for improving quality and total performance of the organization. In our country many organizations are practising Qcs. Some of such organizations are BHEL, SKF, Godrej and Boyce.

Quality Circle – 7 Elements: Non Members, Members, Leader, Facilitator, Steering Committee, Top Management and Coordinating Agency

One of the factors for the success of any organization is its structure and functional rapport among different elements. For the successful operation of the quality circle a well-structured approach is therefore absolutely necessary. The structure discussed herein has been evolved from the practical experience of the author and has been found to be quite successful in Indian context. One fact to be remembered here is that the quality circle does not alter the existing hierarchical setup or chain of commands in any organization.

The recommended quality circle structure has following six elements:

1. Non members

2. Members

3. Leader

4. Facilitator

5. Steering committee

6. Top management

7. Coordinating agency

Element # 1. Non Members:

The employees who do not take part in selecting, analysing and solving the work related problems are called non members, part of structure of the quality circle.

Element # 2. Members:

The basic element of quality circle is the members themselves. Basically they are the base of this programme. Membership is strictly voluntary and anyone who wishes to join is encouraged. It is necessary that the voluntary member should be from the same work area doing similar work because they would be familiar with the problems and could make significant contribution in analyzing and solving the problems so identified.

Element # 3. Leader:

The quality circle leader is chosen within the group by the circle members. The first line supervisor is also designated to perform leadership role in this structure. Individual member in circle is like flower and a garland of members is like a quality circle. The role of leader in circle is like a thread which binds the individual members into a circle. Therefore, leader provides strength to the circle.

Element # 4. Facilitator:

The word facilitator is self-explanatory. It is an important link in the structure who is responsible for coordinating and conducting quality circle activities in his areas. He is usually an officer nominated by the management who is incharge of a section or department. The qualities of a facilitator are multidimensional. He works as guide, coach, coordinator, promoter, teacher, communicator, statistician and catalyst.

He must also possess the working knowledge of operation of the company, product and services, vender relations manufacturing process, quality control, behavioral sciences and over and above all the policies of the organization.

Element # 5. Steering Committee:

This is very important committee in the structure of quality circle. It sets goals and objectives for quality circle activities. It consists of the departmental heads from every major function like, Production, Finance, Materials, Engineering, Quality, Marketing, and others, if necessary, and is headed by the Chief Executive of the Unit or plant. This committee would meet regularly once in two months for smooth and effective functioning of quality circle activities.

Element # 6. Top Management:

This is an apex body at the highest level which oversees and monitors functioning of quality circle and acts as an advisory body. Without the faith and commitment, support and encouragement from the top management, the activities of quality circle cannot run in the organization. Therefore, the top management support is quite essential for the successful operation of this programme.

One of the ways that the top management could demonstrate its support is by incorporating promotion of quality circle concept in the company’s broad objectives. For increasing the motivation level among the circle members and leaders, it is essential that top management must meet the quality circle’s members and leader periodically.

Element # 7. Coordinating Agency:

This is very essential and important element in the structure of quality circle, although this agency does not envisage a separate department to look after its activities. Any department such as quality assurance, personnel or engineering etc. could be motivated as a coordinating agency depending upon the convenience of the organization. The main function of the coordinating agency is to prepare the plan and getting the sanction for the budget to meet the expenses of quality circle activities.

Quality Circle – Phases for Developing Quality Circle System in an Organization

Usually, a QC system in an organization is developed by going through the following phases:

1. Start-Up Phase:

QC requires an attempt just like an organizational change programme. An organizational change programme can be made successful when people are convinced about the utility of the change. Therefore, the first thing that should be done in developing QC is to publicize the concept of QC in the organization. People should understand the implications of QC. This is necessary because participation in QC is voluntary. For constituting and operating a QC, initial training to some personnel should be provided to operate QC system in the organization.

2. Constitution of QC:

QCs may be constituted at different workplaces in the organization. Once a QC is formed, its members remain permanently with the QC unless they leave the work area. Besides QCs at various workplaces, there are steering committee, facilitator, and coordinator as discussed above.

3. Initial Problem Solving:

Once members of the QC are trained, they turn to problem solving. This involves three stages- data collection, data analysis, and problem solving. Data collection is carried on through various ways like past records, contacting employees, and self-suggestions. Data analysis tries to establish the basic reasons for a particular problem or problems on hand.

Problem solving at the initial stage involves participation of various members of the QC on regular basis. Methods used for solving the problems may be brainstorming. Various suggestions put forward by members are analyzed subsequently and final decisions are made through consensus.

4. Presentation and Approval of Suggestions:

When the QC members get ready to show their solution of a problem, they present it before the management. Presentation to management may be in the form of oral presentation by the members, preparation of the project report, or group assignments in project presentation.

Presentation to management helps to improve the communication between management and workers, demonstrates management’s involvement and interest to QC members, and fosters good working relationship among all the people. It also offers opportunity to recognize the QC members’ efforts.

5. Implementation:

The final phase is implementation of suggestions. For this purpose, relevant groups may be assigned activities depending on the nature of suggestions. If the suggestion involves only one workplace without affecting others, the implementation can be undertaken directly at that workplace.

However, if it involves others also, it may be assigned to a group. Once this process is over, QCs may be organized for other departments. Thus, through this process, entire organization can have QCs.

Quality Circle – Pre-Requisites of Quality Control Programme

(1) Need awareness- The need and necessity of introducing a quality circle programme must be explained to all the concerning people including Trade Union leaders. Moreover employees should be made aware of its usefulness in the interest of all.

(2) Co-operative attitude- An enrichment of mutual under- standing, team spirit, spirit of co-operation between the management, employees and trade union is essential.

(3) Acceptance of change- There should be positive attitude towards the acceptance of change among the managers, supervisors and employees.

(4) Adequate education and experience- The selected members and participants of quality circle programme must have adequate education and experience in the area work so that they can be able to discuss on matters and can give constructive suggestions.

(5) Active participation of management- There must be an active participation of top and middle levels of management to make the quality circle programme successful.

Quality Circle – Role of Management

Role of management in QCs is very important because it is the management which may institute QCs and make these effective or ineffective.

The role of management in the context of QCs is as follows:

1. Management initiates the process of instituting QCs in the organization. At the initial stage of instituting QCs, comprehensive training is required to all those persons who may be involved in QC system. This training may be organized either in-house by utilizing the services outside QC experts or sending the personnel to outside training agencies.

In both the cases, cost is involved and management has to decide whether instituting the QCs is beneficial or not. If management decides to institute QCs, further course of actions are taken.

2. Management plays key role in nominating persons in steering committee which establishes policies and plans for QCs. These policies and plans affect working of QCs.

3. Management may encourage healthy growth of QCs through competition among QCs by instituting an award to the division/department which performs best in propagation of QCs as well as to the QC which makes the best presentations at any centrally organized convention or conference.

4. Management may give necessary guidance to employees at different levels for making the quality circle movement a self-sustained success.

5. Management may include propagation of quality circles as one of corporate objectives.

Quality Circle – Advantages: To Members and Organization

There are a number of advantages can be enjoyed by the members and the organization.

Advantage # 1. To Members:

(1) A variety of needs such as psychological social, esteem and self-actualisation would be satisfied.

(2) Increased job satisfaction of the employee.

(3) Self-development in the areas of skills, knowledge sensitivity skills, creativity, imagination etc.

Advantage # 2. To Organization:

(1) Improved job satisfaction of the member ultimately improves efficiency of the employees.

(2) Development of solution in identified problem areas.

(3) Direct and two ways communication between management and members would be developed.

(4) Promotion or introduction of participative management, work culture, team work and team spirit.

(5) Creating pride among members in doing a meaningful important job.

(6) Increased overall managerial efficiency and effectiveness.

(7) Improved problem solving ability.

(8) Mutual trust, understanding and harmony would be developed among members and management.

Quality Circle – Pitfalls and their Remedies

No doubt, QC concept has many positive points but it has failed miserably in many organizations and they had to abandon the scheme midway. In fact, many problems come up in the way and unless sufficient safeguards are taken against these, QC’s efforts are unlikely to succeed.

Some major problems of QC operations and their suggested remedies are as follows:

1. The first basic problem in QC is the absence of right type of attitudes both among managers as well as workers. Managers, particularly at middle level, may feel that QCs dilute their authority and importance; QCs make superiors to find faults with executives for not finding solutions to the problems earlier; QCs are meaningless.

Similarly, workers may feel that QCs are meant to improve organizational efficiency without really benefiting them; QCs may dilute their power and opportunities for bargaining. This problem can be solved by giving appropriate counselling to managers as well as workers about the real concept and contributions of QC. In fact, most of the problems with new concepts come because of misunderstanding of the concepts. QC is no exception to that.

2. There is problem of organizing QCs, particularly in Indian context, because of low profile of workers in the form of their low level education and lack of leadership abilities. This may adversely affect the operation of QCs successfully. This problem can be overcome by proper training to workers and also the leaders of QCs.

3. Delay in implementation of suggestions given by QCs may affect the operation of QCs. Management can take effective steps to implement the suggestions at earliest opportunity. In case where suggestions cannot be implemented at all or can be postponed for the time being, it must be communicated with convincing reasons to the members of the QC.

4. Non-members of QCs may sometimes pose problems to the operation and functioning of QC. This problem can be solved by making them to witness the QC activities like presentation of solutions to management. This way, they can be enthused to join either a particular QC or volunteer them to start new Ones at their workplace.

5. There may be some operational problems like members not being permitted to hold meetings during office time, irregularity of meetings, facilitator not attending meetings even for brief period, etc. Such problems can be overcome by providing adequate support from the top management to facilitate operation of QCs, creation of QCs throughout the organization, denoting a day and time on which meetings are held every week. Similarly, regular meetings of steering committees and coordination committees should also be held.

Thus, it can be seen that there are many problems in QCs but most of these problems can be overcome; with the active support of top management and by creating a suitable work environment in the organization where management and workers cooperate with each other. After all, both these groups are going to get benefits of QCs in the long run.

Quality Circle – Techniques for Solving Quality Circle Problems

Quality circle is a quality control and problem solving approach used by the grass-root level employees in an organization. This approach provides an opportunity to the grass-root level employees to participate in the quality enhancement in various areas of an organization. The main purpose of introducing a quality circle is to build an efficient workforce to make quality products or provide quality services.

The concept of quality circle cannot be applied to a group of two-three people. Generally, a quality circle consists of about 10 workers led by a supervisor. These people work together and discuss and analyze the obstacles, which they face in meeting the objectives.

A quality circle is required to improve the methods of production, reduce wastage, optimize cost, and increase productivity. It is a group formed on a voluntary basis to make a collective effort for improving the quality of output.

The most important activity of quality circle is to solve their work related problems. The problems are solved by using simple but powerful problems solving techniques. These techniques are used to identify the problems, collect and analyse data, examine causes and suggest solution.

1. Selection of Problem:

Generally a quality circle starts functioning after the members are trained. At the first meeting the circle members prepare a list of all problems which are related to their working area by using brain storming technique. Once a list is prepared it is necessary to quantify severity of these problems by means of collecting data. The next step will be to make assignments to various members for collection of data. After collection of data a Pareto diagram is drawn to know the importance of the problems.

Accordingly, members fix the- priority for analysis of problems. However, it is necessary to take precautions so that the circle members may not waste time on minor problem or on projects where solutions are already in process, It may also be prudent to guide the circle members that they should not take up complex problem in the initial stage, but tackle problems of simple nature so that by solving them without difficulty, they may develop self-confidence about their capability to find solution to bigger and complex problems.

2. Analysis of Problem:

Once the problem has been selected, the circle members can start analyzing the problem with the help of two important statistical tools, Brain storming and Cause & Effect diagram. The idea generating brain storming technique helps to get all members involved so that various factors causing the problems can be listed. The leader generally asks the members for their option regarding causes and lists all probable ones. With the group’s consent, the key to major causes is picked up for analysis and development of solution.

3. Development of Solution:

Once the major causes are identified, circle members have to get together and put their brain power to work and start proposing solutions. Since most of the members face these problems every day their suggested solutions are generally reliable. Not only that, but one of those solutions generally remedies the problem prominently. The suggested solutions are normally being implemented by the members themselves.

In case the suggestions are to be implemented by some other Department, the circle members interact with their colleagues or circle members of the department where the suggestions have to be implemented. In case of interface facilitator’s help is taken by the members. After a certain period, when the circle arrives at an effective solution, the facilitator has to arrange the next phase to show to the management the achievement of quality circle.

4. Implementation of Solution:

If the recommendations arrived by the quality circle members fall within the purview of members themselves, they with the approval of immediate authorities of the department/section go ahead in implementing solution.

If the solution to the problem they have tackled like, e.g. which may need some investment, it would be referred to competent level of management, which should either promptly give effect to the recommendation or give a feedback without loss of time to the quality circle why the recommendation is not implementable. At times, the recommendation is taken up for consideration by the Steering Committee at which clarifications, if required, or obtained from the circle members before the decision is taken.

5. Management Presentation:

The Management presentation is a programme where the leader and the members of a circle present their management what project they have been working and what recommendation they wish to make. This event represents a most exciting form of participants, communication and recognition to all.

The recommendation of the solution to the problem selected would be more effective and powerful if the presentation is made in a systematic way. These case studies would also serve as an effective educational tool in future for the organization and others.

Management presentation helps to improve the communication between management and employees, demonstrate management involvement and interest to quality circle activities, and foster a good working relationship amongst all the employees in the organization. They also offer an opportunity to recognize quality circle member’s efforts.

The following guidelines are used by quality circle members for management presentation:

(i) Presentation should not exceed 15 minutes,

(ii) All members are introduced by the leader.

(iii) All members are encouraged to participate in the management presentation.

(iv) Cost saving and other salient points must be highlighted

(v) Presentation should be made through problem solving tools and techniques.

The leader closes the session by answering the questions. A good presentation will also emphasize harmony, team work and cooperation.