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SIX SIGMA VS.

QUALITY CIRCLE

Comparing Two Quality Improvement Methods

Date: 9/23/2009
Bhavin Gandhi
Morrison University


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Abstract


This paper explores two quality improvement methods, Six Sigma and Quality Circle. The article

highlights various differences between these two quality improvement methods. And at the end, it

will conclude by demonstrating that the Six Sigma method of quality improvement was chosen

over Quality Circle as preferred method of quality improvement.

Bhavin
Gandhi
|
©
Morrison
University


Six
Sigma
vs.
Quality
Circle
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SIX
SIGMA
VS.
QUALITY
CIRCLE


Many of today's problem solving and quality improvement tools were first used

extensively in World War II in response to the need for tremendous volumes of high quality,

lower cost materials. More recently, Quality Circles, TQM, and Kaizen have demonstrated the

power of team-base process improvement; while process capability and design of experiments

came to forefront in Six Sigma. In this paper, we will be comparing two of these quality

methodologies, Six Sigma and Quality Circle.

A quality circle is a volunteer group composed of workers (or even students), usually

under the leadership of their supervisor, who are trained to identify, analyze and solve work-

related problems and present their solutions to management in order to improve the performance

of the organization, and motivate and enrich the work of employees. When it is matured, true

Quality Circles become self-managing after gaining confidence of the Manager. Quality Circles

are an alternative to the dehumanizing concept of the division of labor, where workers or

individuals are treated like robots (Brecker Associates, Inc.). They bring back the concept of

craftsmanship, which when operated on an individual basis is uneconomic, but when used in

group form (as Quality Circles), it can be devastatingly powerful and enables the enrichment of

the lives of the workers or students and creates harmony and high performance in the workplace.

This practice is generally implemented for improving manufacture processes, improving product

design and improving occupational safety (Bruce H. Charnov, 2008).

Quality Circles are formal groups. They meet at least once a week 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

Bhavin
Gandhi
|
©
Morrison
University


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Sigma
vs.
Quality
Circle
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identification, information gathering and analysis, basic statistics, and solution generation.

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). Quality circles have the advantage of continuity; the circle remains intact

from project to project. Although quality circles are not normally paid a share of the cost benefit

of any improvements, they usually get a proportion of the savings made by improvements to the

work environment (Bruce H. Charnov, 2008).

On the other hand, Six Sigma is a business management strategy, initially implemented

by Motorola (Motorola University). It is one of the widespread applications used in many sectors

of various industries.

Six Sigma seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing

the causes of defects/errors and variability in manufacturing and business processes. It uses a set

of quality management methods, including statistical methods, and creates a special

infrastructure of people within the organization ("Black Belts", "Green Belts", etc.) who are

experts in these methods. Each Six Sigma project carried out within an organization follows a

defined sequence of steps and has quantified financial targets of cost reduction or profit increase

(Antony, 2008).

Six Sigma projects follow two project methodologies inspired by Deming's Plan-Do-

Check-Act Cycle. These methodologies, comprising five phases each, bear the acronyms

DMAIC and DMADV. DMAIC is used for projects aimed at improving an existing business

process. DMADV is used for projects aimed at creating new product or process designs. Hence,

Bhavin
Gandhi
|
©
Morrison
University


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Sigma
vs.
Quality
Circle
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we can use Six Sigma approach for improving an existing process model as well as for creating a

new process.

Features that set Six Sigma apart from Quality Circle include (Antony, 2008):

1. A clear focus on achieving measurable and quantifiable financial returns from any Six

Sigma project.

2. An increased emphasis on strong and passionate management leadership and support.

3. A special infrastructure of "Champions," “Green Belts," "Black Belts," etc. to lead and

implement the Six Sigma approach.

4. A clear commitment to make decisions on the basis of verifiable data, rather than

assumptions and guesswork.

In conclusion, I think that Quality Circle is a faultfinding exercise, while Six Sigma

originated as a set of practices designed to improve manufacturing processes and eliminate

defects. Six Sigma eliminates defects instead of finding faults after something fails. Without any

doubt, Six Sigma is the winner between these two quality improvement methods.

Bhavin
Gandhi
|
©
Morrison
University


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Sigma
vs.
Quality
Circle
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References


1. Antony, J. (2008). Pros and cons of Six Sigma: an academic perspective. Retrieved

September 23, 2009, from Improvement and Innovation club:

http://www.improvementandinnovation.com/features/articles/pros-and-cons-six-sigma-

academic-perspective

2. Brecker Associates, Inc. (n.d.). Quality-Based Problem-Solving. Retrieved September 22,

2009, from Brecker Associates: http://www.brecker.com/quality.htm

3. Bruce H. Charnov, P. J. (2008). Management. Barrons Educational Series Inc.

4. Motorola University. (n.d.). About Motorola University: The Inventors of Six Sigma.

Retrieved September 23, 2009, from Motorola:

http://www.motorola.com/content.jsp?globalObjectId=3079

Bhavin
Gandhi
|
©
Morrison
University