Quality circles, which originated from Japanese manufacturing, are a business improvement workgroup typified by groups of workers who meet regularly and target continuous improvement of the processes under their direct control

Typical topics include targeting health and safety, skills and training, improving quality of output, process improvement and design. A typical quality circle will contain less that a dozen employees

Quality circles are dependant on a number of factors for their success

• Team must have a clear purpose and management support
• Focus should be on process
• Team should be trained in problem solving and have right tools and methodologies available to them.
• Team should be stable and be integrated into company wide efforts

Quality circles are popular as they encourage employee participation, and can promote job satisfaction without monetary benefits and as well as improving business processes can deliver in a number of other areas typically including employee development, creation of team spirit and organizational culture.

The structure of a quality circle will often include steering committees, and co-ordinators who co-ordinate and administer the program. Circle members can be from any part of the organization hierarchy but are typically grass root workers.

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