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The idea of Kaizen was introduced by JICA to the Institute of Technology (IoT), National University of Samoa as part of the IoT's continuous improvement and effective maintenance of its resources and assets. Kaizen is a Japanese term which can be interpreted as 'continuous improvement' by developing efficient systems which REDUCE wasted time, wasted resources, wasted space, wasted energy. One of the key areas of the Kaizen I will look into here is the introduction of Quality Circles (QCs).

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By the end of this lesson, participants should be able to:
  • explain how to form quality circles
  • discuss objectives of different quality circles within their organisation


An organisation may identify 4-5 different areas which require continuous monitoring and improvement. Each area may be allocated to a group (form from members of the organisation) which is called Quality Circle 1, 2, 3 etc, depending on the number of areas identified. The Quality Circles should have a common objective of working for the success of their project in the area being allocated to them. These areas may be called Kaizen activities. Membership of each QC is on a voluntary basis.

The following are suggested steps in forming a Quality Circle:

  • inform staff of the Kaizen activities
  • explain the concept and the advantages of Kaizen activities
  • divide the staff into small groups - Quality Circles
  • discuss & analyse problems identified in each area by QCs
  • recommend possible solutions by QCs
  • prepare implementation plans
  • write a proposal in implementing plans
  • all QCs to meet twice a year to present progress of Kaizen activities
  • reward QC with the best effort in achieving their objectives

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Forming QCs
  • organisation or management should identify areas for improvement
  • divide staff into different groups or staff select or area of interest but try and have a balance number per group
  • each group is to be allocated a number and be called Quality Circle 1, 2, etc.
  • inform each group of what is required of them

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Quality Circle Group Work
  • Each group should identify the main objectives of its QC
  • Discuss and ensure all members agree with the objectives
  • Discuss different steps as in notes above in forming QC