Ishikawa’s and Feigenbaum’s Quality Management Ideas

Kaoru Ishikawa and Dr. Armand Feigenbaum were strong advocates of quality management as a source of organizational success. Despite some differences in the quality management concepts that they have developed, both approaches were highly influential and are still part of most quality management strategies.

Kaoru Ishikawa was a famous Japanese management professor (Madu 2012). The two major creations of Ishikawa were the cause-and-effect diagram, also known as the fishbone diagram, and the quality circles concept (Madu 2012). According to Ishikawa’s notion, the fishbone diagram provides a structured approach to problem-solving, which allows it to be used by workers on all levels of management (Madu 2012). The diagram is used to categorize problems into four classes, according to their source or cause: methods, HR, materials, and machines (Madu 2012). The use of the diagram, thus, allows identifying the root of the issue, which is crucial for the management to devise a solution. One disadvantage of this method, however, is that some business processes are too complex to be categorized or do not fit any of the proposed categories. The quality circles, on the other hand, are used to determine ways to improve the production process or the end product (Madu 2012).

The Economist explains, “A quality circle is a small group of between three and 12 people who do the same or similar work, voluntarily meeting together […] to identify, analyze and solve some of the problems in their work” (‘Quality circle’ 2009, para. 2). Therefore, the main duties of the quality circle are to identify issues and to suggest solutions to them (‘Quality circle’ 2009). The organization’s higher management is responsible for the work of the quality circle and is required to ensure that the meetings are organized and that the chosen workers are trained in problem-solving (‘Quality circle’ 2009). Although in the recent years, quality circles were mostly substituted with quality control teams, the initial concept is useful as it helps to identify and solve issues, while at the same time providing a source of empowerment for the employees.

Dr. Armand V. Feigenbaum is the developer of the total quality control notion. He first introduced TQC concept in a 1946 article and 1951, he wrote the first edition of the book Total Quality Control, which explained the approach and its creation in detail (‘Dr. Armand V. Feigenbaum’ 2013). In the book, he also established the foundations of total quality management (TQM), an approach that is still widely used by managers all over the world (‘Dr. Armand V. Feigenbaum’ 2013). One of the main ideas presented in Feigenbaum’s theory is concerned with how companies perceive quality. For instance, the author argues that “Quality is the customer’s perception of what quality is, not what a company thinks it is” (‘Dr. Armand V. Feigenbaum’ 2013). Feigenbaum also claims that total quality control is about increasing the number of benefits that the customer receives from buying the product (Stevens 2014). Feigenbaum argues that quality control is at the very base of every business, and hence quality management is, in fact, a way of managing the entire organization and not just the production process (Stevens 2014).

All in all, Feigenbaum offers a balanced theoretical approach to the relationship between management and quality. In the contemporary world, more and more organizations put customer focus as their primary goal, which is why Feigenbaum’s theory is among the essentials. Ishikawa’s theory, on the other hand, applies to the contemporary production businesses, which rely on many different sources that can cause quality issues. Thus, both quality management gurus offer concepts and practices that can potentially help the contemporary business to develop and implement good quality control strategies, while at the same time changing the way businesses think about quality.

Reference List

‘Dr. Armand V. Feigenbaum’ 2013, The Feigenbaum Foundation, Web.

Madu, C 2012, Handbook of total quality management, Springer Science & Business Media, Berlin.

‘Quality circle’ 2009, The Economist, Web.

Stevens, T 2014, ‘Dr. Armand Feigenbaum on managing for quality (Part 1)’, Industry Week, Web.