Kaoru Ishikawa: One Step Further
Kaoru Ishikawa wanted to change the way people think about work.
He urged managers to resist becoming content with merely
improving a product's quality, insisting that quality improvement
can always go one step further. His notion of company-wide
quality control called for continued customer service. This meant
that a customer would continue receiving service even after
receiving the product. This service would extend across the
company itself in all levels of management, and even beyond the
company to the everyday lives of those involved. According to
Ishikawa, quality improvement is a continuous process, and it can
always be taken one step further.
With his cause and effect diagram (also called the "Ishikawa" or
"fishbone" diagram) this management leader made significant and
specific advancements in quality improvement. With the use of
this new diagram, the user can see all possible causes of a
result, and hopefully find the root of process imperfections. By
pinpointing root problems, this diagram provides quality
improvement from the "bottom up." Dr. W. Edwards Deming --one of
Isikawa's colleagues -- adopted this diagram and used it to teach
Total Quality Control in Japan as early as World War II. Both
Ishikawa and Deming use this diagram as one the first tools in
the quality management process.
Ishikawa also showed the importance of the seven quality tools:
control chart, run chart, histogram, scatter diagram, Pareto
chart, and flowchart. Additionally, Ishikawa explored the concept
of quality circles-- a Japanese philosophy which he drew from
obscurity into world wide acceptance. .Ishikawa believed in the
importance of support and leadership from top level management.
He continually urged top level executives to take quality control
courses, knowing that without the support of the management,
these programs would ultimately fail. He stressed that it would
take firm commitment from the entire hierarchy of employees to
reach the company's potential for success. Another area of
quality improvement that Ishikawa emphasized is quality
throughout a product's life cycle -- not just during production.
Although he believed strongly in creating standards, he felt that
standards were like continuous quality improvement programs --
they too should be constantly evaluated and changed. Standards
are not the ultimate source of decision making; customer
satisfaction is. He wanted managers to consistently meet consumer
needs; from these needs, all other decisions should stem. Besides
his own developments, Ishikawa drew and expounded on principles
from other quality gurus, including those of one man in
particular: W. Edwards Deming, creator of the Plan-Do-Check-Act
model. Ishikawa expanded Deming's four steps into the following
- Determine goals and targets.
- Determine methods of reaching goals.
- Engage in education and training.
- Implement work.
- Check the effects of implementation.
- Take appropriate action.
- Ishikawa. K., (Lu. D. J. trans.), 1985, What is Total Quality
Control?, Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
Tools Page: Cause and Effect Diagrams