October 21, 2012

MU0011 [Management and Organizational Development] Set2 Q3

Q.3) Discuss quality circles. 

Ans:

Quality Circle is a small volunteer group of six to twelve employees doing similar kind of work. They voluntarily meet together on a regular basis to carry out frequent checks in their respective work areas for improvements. They use certain proven techniques for analyzing and solving work related problems coming in the way of achieving and sustaining excellence so that they can bring about a mutual upliftment of employees as well as the organization.

Quality Circles are (informal) groups of employees who voluntarily meet together on a regular basis to identify, define, analyze and solve work related problems.

Usually the members of a particular team (quality circle) should be from the same work area or who do similar work so that the problems they select will be familiar to all of them. In addition, interdepartmental or cross functional quality circles may also be formed.

An ideal size of quality circle is seven to eight members. But the number of members in a quality circle can vary.

So basically a volunteer group is composed of workers, under the leadership of their supervisor who are trained to identify, analyze and solve work-related problems are collectively called Quality circle. They present their solutions to management for the improvement of organizational performance. Tue quality circles become self-managing after gaining management confidence.

If anything could battle the dehumanizing concept of division of labor, it is Quality circle. It has brought back the concept of craftsmanship, which doesnt work well on an individual basis because it is uneconomic, but it proves a boon when used in group form. The prime motto of QC is improving occupational safety and health, improving product design, and improvement in the workplace and manufacturing processes.

1 Key Features of Quality Circle:
They are formal groups. 
They hold meetings at least once a week on company time and are trained by competent persons who may be personnel and industrial relations specialists. 
Quality circles are generally free to select any topic they wish, but they cannot select salary related topics or other topics related to terms and conditions of work, because these issues are dealt with via other channels.

2 The Concept
The concept of Quality Circle primarily focuses on a workers value recognition as a human being, as someone who willingly takes on his job, his wisdom, intelligence, experience, attitude and feelings. It is just another part of human resource management considered as one of the key factors in the improvement of product quality & productivity.

Quality Circle concept has three major attributes:
Quality Circle is a human resource development technique. 
Quality Circle is a problem solving technique. 
Quality Circle is a form of participation management.

3 Objective of QC
There multi-faced objectives of Quality Circles:
Change in Attitude.
Self Development
Development of Team Spirit
Improved Organizational Culture

Other Names of Quality Circles
Small Groups
Action Circles
Excellence Circles
Human Resources Circles
Productivity Circles

Objectives of Quality Circles
Promote job involvement
Create problem solving capability
Improve communication
Promote leadership qualities
Promote personal development
Develop a greater awareness for cleanliness
Develop greater awareness for safety
Improve morale through closer identity of employee objectives with organization's objectives
Reduce errors.
Enhance quality
Inspire more effective team work
Build an attitude of problem prevention
Promote cost reduction
Develop harmonious manager, supervisor and worker relationship
Improve productivity
Reduce downtime of machines and equipment
Increase employee motivation

Quality Circle Meetings
Meetings are important part of quality circle's working.
Meetings are attended by all the members of the quality circle. 
In general, meetings take place once a week or once in a fortnight. 
Each meeting lasts for approximately one hour, though variations are possible.
Apart from the frequency of the meetings, what is important is the regularity of the meetings.

What Takes Place During Quality Circle Meetings?
Any of the several activities may occur during a meeting such as:
Identifying a theme or a problem to work on.
Getting training as required to enable members to analyze problems.
Analyzing problem(s).
Preparing recommendations for implementing solution(s).
Follow up of implementation of suggestions.
Prepare for a presentation to the management.

What Quality Circles are Not? (Misconcepts)
Quality Circles do not tackle just quality problems.
Quality Circle is not a substitute or replacement for task forces, product committees, joint plant councils or works committees, quality assurance department, suggestion schemes.
Quality Circles do not change the existing organizational structure or the chain of command.
Quality Circles are not a forum for grievances or a spring board for demands.
Quality Circles are not a means for the management to unload all their problems.
Quality Circles are not just another technique.
Quality Circles are not a panacea for all ills.

Pitfalls and Problems
Lack of faith in and support to Quality Circle activities among management personnel
Lack of interest or incompetence of leaders/facilitator
Apathy, fear and misunderstanding among middle level executives
Delay or non-implementation of Circle recommendations
Irregularity of Quality Circle activities
Non-application of simple techniques for problem solving
Lack of or non-participation by some members in the Circle activities
Circles running out of problems
Antagonism of non-members towards Quality Circle operations
Inadequate visibility of management support
Complexity of problems taken up
Non-maintenance of Quality Circle records
Too much facilitation or too little
Language difficulty in communication
Communication gap between Circles and departmental head
Change of management
Confusing Quality Circle for another technique
Resistance from trade unions

Structure of Quality Circles Program

Six Basic Elements
Circle participants or members.
Circle leaders/deputy leaders.
Program facilitator.
Steering/advisory committee.
Top management.
Non-participating management/members.

How Do Quality Circles Operate?
Appointment of a steering committee, facilitator and QC team leaders.
Formation of QCs by nomination/voluntary enrolment of QC members.
Training of all QC members (by an expert consultant).
Training of non-participating employees (by an expert consultant).
Problem data bank and identification of problems for QC work.
QC problem resolution by QCs through standardized techniques.
Presentation of QC solutions to management.
Evaluation of award/recognition.

Code of Conduct for QCs
Attend all meetings and be on time.
Listen to and show respect for the views of other members.
Make others feel a part of the group.
Criticize ideas, not persons.
Help other members to participate more fully.
Be open to and encourage the ideas of others.
Every member is responsible for the team’s progress.
Maintain a friendly attitude.
Strive for enthusiasm.
The only stupid question is the one that is not asked.
Look for merit in the ideas of others.
Pay attention- avoid disruptive behavior.
Avoid actions that delay progress.
Carry out assignments on schedule.
Give credit to those whom it is due.
Thank those who give assistance.
Do not suppress ideas- do express.
Objectives and causes first, solutions next.
Give praise and honest appreciation when due.
Ideas generated by the group should not be used as individual suggestions to suggestion scheme.

Problem Solving Tools and Techniques Used by Quality Circles
Given below are the most commonly used tools and techniques. These are called the old QC tools:
Brainstorming.
Pareto analysis.
Cause and effect diagram (or fish bone diagram or Ishikawa diagram).
Histogram.
Scatter diagram
Stratification
Check sheet
Control charts and graphs

New QC Tools
Quality circles started using additional seven tools as they started maturing. These are:
1. Relations diagram.
2. Affinity diagram.
3. Systematic diagram or Tree diagram.
4. Matrix diagram.
5. Matrix data analysis diagram.
6. PDPC (Process Decision Program Chart).
7. Arrow diagram.

Benefits and Limitations of Quality Circles 
The quality control concept did not get an easy acceptance in India. It took two decades to get acceptance in India, after its introduction in Japan. The reason might be differences in the industrial context in the two countries. Japan needed it for its survival in a competitive market. India had a reasonably protected, sellers market, with consequent lethargy towards efforts to improve quality and productivity. However, with the policy of liberalization of economy and privatization of infrastructure development, contexts changed. 

The concept now needs to be looked upon as a necessity.
Self development.
Promotes leadership qualities among participants.
Recognition.
Achievement satisfaction.
Promotes group/team working.
Serves as cementing force between management/non-management groups.
Promotes continuous improvement in products and services.
Brings about a change in environment of more productivity, better quality, reduced costs, safety and corresponding rewards.

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