Ishikawa: a Quality Guru

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Karou Ishikawa played a very important role in what we now know as the quality movement. He began his career as an early pioneer in the quality movement in Japan. In 1939, he received a degree in chemical engineering, after which he became employed by the Japanese military. Only 10 short years later he had delivered his first basic quality control course. He learned statistical methods from the US, but took quality even further than the statistical methods he mastered. He also expanded upon the concepts of Deming and Juran in his methods. Some of his greatest contributions include the cause and effect diagram, (fish bone diagram), the quality circle, and published works which reflect his commitment to quality improvement. Ishikawa used all of these methods to educate others in his quest for the evolution of quality. Ishikawa is known for his work on the cause and effect diagram, or also called the fish bone diagram. This tool is one that makes problem solving easy to visualize. The procedure for using a fishbone diagram is relatively easy and takes just a few simple steps. First, agree on the effect (problem statement) and draw a line to the problem. Second, brainstorm major categories that could be causing the problem. Next, write the categories as branches off the line to form an arrow. Continually ask “why does this happen”? When you are out of ideas turn your focus to the area of the “arrow” that does not have many ideas. Chances are your “cause” of the “effect” will lie in this area. By analyzing all the “causes” you can discover the root cause of a problem. Not only can you identify where a process is not working, but also why. The Japanese quality circle is another development of Ishikawa. This method seems to have appeared out of no-where and has spread around the world. The principle behind a quality circle is simple. The circles
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