What is Quality Circle?

Legal Definition
A quality circle or quality control circle is a group of workers who do the same or similar work, who meet regularly to identify, analyze and solve work-related problems. Normally small in size, the group is usually led by a supervisor or manager and presents its solutions to management; where possible, workers implement the solutions themselves in order to improve the performance of the organization and motivate employees. Quality circles were at their most popular during the 1980s, but continue to exist in the form of Kaizen groups and similar worker participation schemes.

Typical topics for the attention of quality circles are improving occupational safety and health, improving product design, and improvement in the workplace and manufacturing processes. The term quality circles was most accessibly defined by Professor Kaoru Ishikawa in his 1988 handbook, "What is Total Quality Control? The Japanese Way" and circulated throughout Japanese industry by the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) in 1960. The first company in Japan to introduce Quality Circles was the Nippon Wireless and Telegraph Company in 1962. By the end of that year there were 36 companies registered with JUSE by 1978 the movement had grown to an estimated 1 million Circles involving some 10 million Japanese workers. Contrary to some people's opinion this movement had nothing whatever to do with Dr. W. Edwards Deming or indeed Dr Juran and both were skeptical as to whether it could be made to work in the USA or the West generally.

Quality circles are typically more formal groups. They meet regularly 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 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. (For a comparison to Quality Improvement Teams, see Juran's Quality by Design.).
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
Originating in Japan and called quality control circles. It is a small number of people between 6 and 12 that look after a certain aspect of quality control in the manufacture of a product.