Sunday, 10 January 2016

Quality Gurus - Kaoru Ishikawa

Kaoru Ishikawa (July 13, 1915 - April 16, 1989) was a Japanese organizational theorist, Professor at the Faculty of Engineering at The University of Tokyo, noted for his quality management innovations. He is considered a key figure in the development of quality initiatives in Japan, particularly the quality circle.21 Perhaps the most dominant leader in JUSE, Kaoru Ishikawa also served as president of the Japanese Society for Quality Control and the Musashi Institute of Technology and co-founded and served as president of the International Academy for Quality. Upon retirement, he was named professor emeritus of the University of Tokyo, Honorary Member of ASQ and honorary member of the International Academy for Quality.

He wrote 647 articles and 31 books, including two that were translated into English:
Introduction to Quality Control and What Is Total Quality Control? The Japanese Way.
He is well known for coming up with the concept for the fishbone shaped diagram, known as the Ishikawa or cause and effect diagram, used to improve the performance of teams in determining potential root causes of their quality problems.22

Throughout his career, Ishikawa worked on very practical matters, but always within a larger philosophical framework. In its broadest sense, Ishikawa's work was intended to produce what he called a "thought revolution" new ideas about quality that could revitalize industry. The wide acceptance of many of Ishikawa's ideas—and the numerous honors he has received from around the world show how successful his revolution has been.23

Major contributions of Kaoru Ishikawa are:
  • Ishikawa Diagram
  • Seven basic quality tools
  • Quality Circles
  • Company-wide Quality Control
Ishikawa Diagram [Fishbone Diagram]

The Ishikawa Diagram was developed by Kaoru Ishikawa and is by far the most popular form of causal map. The Ishikawa Diagram is a special type of causal map that shows the relationships between the problem and the potential causes of a problem. It is usually developed in a brainstorming context. The process begins by placing the name of a basic problem of interest at the far right of the diagram at the “head” of the main “backbone” of the fish. The main causes of the problem are drawn as bones off the main backbone.24

Cause & effect diagrams can also be drawn as tree diagrams, resembling a tree turned on its side. From a single outcome or trunk, branches extend that represent major categories of inputs or causes that create that single outcome. These large branches then lead to smaller and smaller branches of causes all the way down to twigs at the ends. The tree structure has an advantage over the fishbone-style diagram. As a fishbone diagram becomes more and more complex, it becomes difficult to find and compare items that are the same distance from the effect because they are dispersed over the diagram. With the tree structure, all items on the same causal level are aligned vertically.32

Seven Basic Quality Tools

The Seven Basic Tools of Quality is a designation given to a fixed set of graphical techniques identified as being most helpful in troubleshooting issues related to quality.25 They are called basic because they are suitable for people with little formal training in statistics and because they can be used to solve the vast majority of quality-related issues.26
  • Cause-and-effect diagram (also called Ishikawa or fishbone chart): Identifies many possible causes for an effect or problem and sorts ideas into useful categories.
  • Check sheet: A structured, prepared form for collecting and analyzing data; a generic tool that can be adapted for a wide variety of purposes.
  • Control charts: Graphs used to study how a process changes over time.
  • Histogram: The most commonly used graph for showing frequency distributions, or how often each different value in a set of data occurs.
  • Pareto chart: Shows on a bar graph which factors are more significant.
  • Scatter diagram: Graphs pairs of numerical data, one variable on each axis, to look for a relationship.
  • Stratification: A technique that separates data gathered from a variety of sources so that patterns can be seen (some lists replace “stratification” with “flowchart” or “run chart”).27
Quality Circles

A quality circle is a group of workers who do the same or similar work, who meet regularly to identify, analyze and solve work-related problems.28 Normally small in size, the group is usually led by a supervisor or manager and presents its solutions to management; where possible, workers implement the solutions themselves in order to improve the performance of the organization and motivate employees. Quality circles were at their most popular during the 1980s, but continue to exist in the form of Kaizen groups and similar worker participation schemes29.

Quality circles are typically more formal groups. They meet regularly on company time and are trained by competent persons (usually designated as facilitators) who may be personnel and industrial relations specialists trained in human factors and the basic skills of problem identification, information gathering and analysis, basic statistics, and solution generation.30 Quality circles are generally free to select any topic they wish (other than those related to salary and terms and conditions of work, as there are other channels through which these issues are usually considered).

Company-wide Quality Control

Turning to organizational, rather than technical contributions to quality, Ishikawa is associated with the Company Wide Quality Control movement that started in Japan in the years 1955-1960 following the visits of Deming and Juran. Under this, quality control in Japan is characterized by company-wide participation from top management to the lower-ranking employees. Further, all study statistical methods. As well as participation by the engineering design, research and manufacturing departments, also sales, materials and clerical or management departments (such as planning, accounting, business and personnel) are involved.31

The company-wide quality approach places an emphasis on four aspects:-
  1. Elements such as controls, job management, adequate processes, performance and integrity criteria and identification of records
  2. Competence such as knowledge, skills, experiences, qualifications
  3. Soft elements, such as personnel integrity, confidence, organizational culture, motivation, team spirit and quality relationships.
  4. Infrastructure (as it enhances or limits functionality)
The results of these company-wide Quality Control activities are remarkable, not only in ensuring the quality of industrial products but also in their great contribution to the company's overall business. Thus Ishikawa sees the Company Wide Quality Control movement as implying that quality does not only mean the quality of product, but also of after sales service, quality of management, the company itself and the human being.


21.    Wikipedia,
22.    Quality Gurus,
23.    Kaoru Ishikawa ,
24.    Arthur V. Hill, The Encyclopedia of Operations Management, Pearson      Education Inc,New Jersey, 2011, Pg:63
25.    Montgomery, Douglas (2005). Introduction to Statistical Quality Control. Hoboken,  New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 148.
26.    Ishikawa, Kaoru , What Is Total Quality Control? The Japanese Way (1 ed.), Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1985, p. 198
27.    Seven basic quality tools,
28.    Wikipedia,
29.    Edward E. Lawler III & Susan A. Mohrman, Quality Circles After the Fad,
30.    Montana, Patrick J., Bruce H. Charnov. Management (4th ed.). Barron's, Newyork, 2008, Pg:81.
31.    Kaoru Ishikawa,
32.    Cause and effect diagram,

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