Kaoru Ishikawa was a pioneer in the
field of quality, and his ideas and concepts are still used today. Kaoru Ishikawa was a Japanese professor,
advisor, and motivator concerning the innovative developments within the field
of quality management. He wanted to
change the way people thought about work.
He encouraged managers to resist becoming content with just improving a
product’s quality, insisting that quality improvement can always go one step
further. Ishikawa’s view of company-wide
quality control meant for continued customer service, receiving service even
after receiving the product. This level
of service will extend across the company to all level of management. Ishikawa belief is the quality improvement
the continuous process, and it can always be taken one step further.
Kaoru Ishikawa was born in Tokyo on
July 13, 1915; he was the oldest of the eight siblings. In 1939 Kaoru Ishikawa
graduated with his Master’s degree in applied chemistry, and in 1960 he obtains
his doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of Tokyo.
From 1939-1941 he was a Naval
technical officer in charge of 600 workers to construct a factory. Kaoru Ishikawa said that the experience he
gained as a Naval Technical officer gave him the expertise to QC
activities. In 1947, he became the
researcher of the University of Tokyo and began studying statistical method,
then in 1949 he joined JUSE QC research group and became an instructor.
The lack of natural resources for
Japan is what drove Ishikawa to visualize and later to practice of quality
control to stop the waste of material and higher costs for his country. This was when Ishikawa came up with the idea
of the Fishbone diagram or Ishikawa diagram.
Today many organizations are still using this diagram to generate cause
and effect. This diagram helps the
organization find the cause and impact of a problem which ultimately allows
companies to lower the cost of goods while sales keep increasing. Ishikawa was a firm believer that quality
begins with the customer and that understanding the needs of the customer will
enhance the quality of a product.
Ishikawa strongly believed that
support from management was significant to meet the company goals. He continually urged companies to have their
management team take quality control classes, this way they can learn and apply
their knowledge to all their employees.
He knows without leadership support; the programs will ultimately fail.
His philosophy was the key on the basis for improving quality. Ishikawa believed
that quality always begins with educating everyone in a company from management
to all the employees on the front line.
They must continuously educate themselves and apply all their newly
acquired knowledge into the process of an organization, from customer service,
product development, product manufacturing, and management. In order to use his philosophy: a company
needs to continually educate their employees, know the wants and needs of its
customers, remove inspections, instead give the right knowledge and power for
each employee to own their own mistakes and failures so they can fix them
themselves, remove the cause and the symptoms, quality control is the
responsibility of all workers, put quality first setting the company sight on
long-term profits instead of short-term gains, not to allow top management to
show anger when mistakes are made, instead teach and guide employees on how
they can own their mistakes and become better at their tasks. Ishikawa came up with the total of eleven key
elements to his philosophy.
Primary Work, Significant
Accomplishments, and Awards
dedicated his efforts to making technical statistical techniques used in
quality achievement to business in the world of quality management. He
emphasized technologies such as the Fishbones diagram, Control Charts, Scatter
Diagrams, Binomial probability paper and sampling inspection. Ishikawa wanted to change the way people
thought about work by urging managers to resist becoming content with just
improving a product’s quality, but instead insisting that quality as means for
continued customer satisfaction.
Ishikawa’s focus was on company-wide quality as a means for constant
customer satisfaction. “Ishikawa built
on Feigenbaum’s concept of total quality and suggested that all employees have
a greater role to play, arguing that an over-reliance on the quality
professional would limit the potential for improvement.” (Quality Gurus 2010)
Ishikawa was the focus on the contribution of the organization and believed
that the overall quality buy-in required involvement from all levels of the
organizations (senior management down to the entry-level worker). 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.
Quality improvement is a continuous
process that can always be taken on step further. Ishikawa showed the importance of seven
quality tools: control charts, run charts, histogram, scatter diagram, scatter
diagram, Pareto chart run chart, and flowchart.
He also emphasized the importance of quality throughout a product life
cycle; not just during its production.
These tools are effective when
combines with graphical data presentation methods yet often neglected as
unimportant. The seven new management tools of quality control have a
technical, organizational basis rather than a statistical foundation, yet they
link very well with many essential analytical techniques and should not be
ignored by statisticians. Ishikawa was a
true pioneer in the quality revolution in Japan. Ishikawa philosophy in quality control
process is still being practiced throughout the world. His principles, diagrams and statistical
evidence have defined the stem of TQM.
These tools were designed to be used as visual aids that would transcend
various cultures to help identify the root cause of quality issues within an
believed firmly in creating job standards but felt that even standards required
continuous improvement through constant evaluation and change. Standards are not the final source of
decisions making; customer satisfaction is.
Managers must consistently meet and exceed consumer needs; from these
requirements, all other decision should be created. Along with his development,
Ishikawa drew and expounded on principles from other quality scientists,
notably Dr. W, Edwards Deming, creator of the Plan-Do-Check-Act model. Ishikawa
expanded Deming’s four steps into the following six:
1. Determine goals and targets
2. Determine methods of reaching
3. Engage in education and training
4. Implement work
5. Check the efforts of
6. Take appropriate action
Kaoru Ishikawa’s relentless pursuit
of taking quality improvement one step further guarantees his status as a guru
of continuous quality improvement, his legacy will remain within the TQM of
businesses across the globe for many years to come.
Awards of Kaoru Ishikawa
1972 American Society for Quality’s Eugene L. Grant Award
• 1977 Blue Ribbon Medal by the
Japanese Government for achievements in industrial standardization
1988 Walter A. Shewhart Medal
1988 Awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasures, Second Class, by the
Kaoru Ishikawa was a visionary that
saw the need for improvement on his country’s needs for better quality
products, so he came up with a solution, and that was when he innovated the
Fishbone Diagram. Kaoru Ishikawa kept
on teaching his methods to the world, and along the way, he also showed them
the works of Deming. Kaoru Ishikawa, the
candidates that would qualify for the Deming Award. After all, Kaoru Ishikawa
was the inventor of the Fishbone Diagram and Quality Circles. These two techniques helped us to understand
how they worked and how they influenced this industry, but also supported other
top-quality TQM leaders such as Deming, Juran, and Shewhart. Understanding Kaoru Ishikawa philosophy will
help many organizations to grow on all levels and will give them real-world
experience by bringing the new perspective to this successful technique.