Change is the window through which the future enters your life. It's all around you, in many types and shapes. You can bring it about yourself or it can come in ways. One of the keys to dealing with change is understanding that change in never over. “Change brings opportunity to those who can grasp it, and the discontinuities of the new economy offer unlimited opportunities.”
A quality circle is a volunteer group composed of workers who meet together to discuss workplace improvement, and make presentations to management with their ideas. Typical topics are improving safety, improving product design, and improvement in manufacturing process. Quality circles have the advantage of continuity, the circle remains intact from project to project.
Quality Circles were started in Japan in 1962 as another method of improving quality.
Quality circles are regular short meetings set up to aid work-related problems.
• 5 – 10 people attend the meeting in work time
• Supervisor is nominated and runs the meeting
• Flip Charts, audiovisual equipment, notice boards etc. are utilized • Problem areas are put forward by the group
• Problems are prioritized
• Information is collated, ideas are generated via brainstorming, force-field analysis etc. • Effectiveness, costs, savings, consequences to other departments etc... considered • Final solution is put forward to manager and implemented by the Quality Circle group
CASE STUDY: QUALITY CIRCLES AT WEDGWOOD
David Hutchins introduced the concept of Quality Circles to senior management, middle management and Unions at Wedgwood during December 1980. Training of the first 12 leaders started in January 1981, and the first of six Quality Circles started training at the end of that month, followed by six more a month later. David Hutchins then returned to train 12 more leaders in March 1981, and the process has continued at a steady pace since the outset. Training then spread to all the local firms within the Wedgwood Group. These are all situated within a 5-mile radius in North Staffordshire. Within a year of starting 80 Quality Circles were operating.
In order to organize this operation Wedgwood has so far six full-time facilitators, all of whom were previously from production or training departments within the group. The next aim is to involve at least half the workforce in Quality Circle activities, which will mean running some 400 Circles.
Circles meet for 1 hour each week during working hours in specially prepared Quality Circle rooms. The main Wedgwood factory is soon to have a new complete Quality Circle Centre with a lecture room, six Quality Circle meeting rooms, office accommodation and a storeroom for records.
Quality Circles usually choose their own problems and spend anything from a month to six months analyzing and solving each particular project. When the solution is found, a presentation is made to senior management or board members.
The whole process of problem solving follows strict procedures and stages. Firstly problems are identified, and then one is selected by the Quality Circle voting for it. After this the cause is thoroughly investigated, and the facts are verified by data gathering and double checking. On occasions the actual cause which had been assumed was not the same as that which showed up after the data gathering.
Armed with facts and a solution, a presentation is made to get approval for implementation of the project. Once this has been granted, the whole process of establishing controls and general monitoring begins so that the solution can be standardized.
The whole procedure from the initial cause and effect chart on to the final result is recorded on a composite sheet which takes the reader through all the charts, drawings and graphs to the final results which are constantly checked and audited. So far all projects have been implemented, but it is...