Lean Quality Circle

If Lean Quality Circle is to be defined, it could be done as follows:

Group Members:

Group Members will be those who are related to the project taken. There may be 2 or 3members from the same area and a few additional members added and who are relatedto the project, from other department, may also be co-opted. Hence members will beproject based, guided by one of the executives of that area where problem belongs. It may be a core group of 2 to 3 members with guide / facilitator co-opting other membersbased on project taken and need.

Frequency of Meeting:

There will not be any fixed regular formal meetings. Meetings will be informal and at the place / equipment, where the problem exists. Frequency of the meeting will depend upon the decision of the group members and as and when required. Weekly progress reports will be noted by the Leader or Dy. Leader in the meeting register.

Selection of Problem:

The problems can be taken up from the already identified problems / problem bank based on management goals / objectives. Problem may also be taken from the current priority problems of their work areas decided by the group member. After selecting the problem, the same has to be registered with the coordinator and registration number obtained.

Problem Solving Steps:

Define, measure the magnitude of the problem, analyse the problem, improve and control. This is nothing but DMAIC., yet not to be confused with Six Sigma approach.


Sl. No Particulars Quality Circle Lean Quality Circle
1. Concept The main objective of Quality Circles is “self” and mutual development, cohesive team work and engaged in continuous improvement activities, thus improving their quality of work life”. LQC is applied to turn out large number of small projects to meet company’s objective / goal. Hence this is an acid test for those who have formed QC for their self and mutual development and have learnt to analyse and solve the problem.
2. Identification of Problem QC Members with the help of Round Robin Method, try to identify their own day to day work related problems which are of a recurring nature. In LQC, problems can be taken from the problem bank. Instant problem can also be taken. LQC mainly concentrates to take the project resulting in value addition or reduction / elimination of different types of wastes aligned to company’s goals.
3. Problem Selection Identified problems are segregated into A, B & C categories. “A” simple problem is taken first, and “C” the toughest problem will be taken at the end of “B” type of problems. Anyone can select the problem from problem bank or with his / her own initiative any problem relating to loss of quality, production loss, wastage reduction, non value adding processes etc and consensus arrived at.
4. Meetings We all know that QC’s have periodic regular meetings to discuss, analyse and final solutions to the problems on a pre-fixed schedule. Generally LQC members discuss their problems at the work place where the problem has occurred. Meetings are based on project needs., it may be even three times in a day.
5. Problem Solving Steps QC’s follow the 12 steps methodology evolved by us, starting from identification of problems to solution, implementation, follow up and review. In the case of LQC’s, they will follow the 5steps of DMAIC approach: That is:
  1. Defining of Problem
  2. Measure the Problem
  3. Analyse the problem to find out the root cause.
  4. Suggest improvement (solution)
  5. Control it by not allowing it to slip back.
6. Approval of project Project will have to be approved by the Steering Committee or the executives nominated by the Steering Committee. LQC’s, project also will have to be approved by the Steering Committee or the executives nominated by the Steering Committee.
7. Gains In the case of QC’s, the whole objective is to “develop people”. In other words, self and mutual development through QC activities. Hence, the focus is not in terms of how much money is gained through the project / problem solving. In the case of LQC’s, it is directly measurable with respect to organizational goals in terms of not only process improvement, but also improvements in quality, cost reduction and faster delivery. So this reflects on the bottom line gains.

Difference Between Kaizen / Unstructured Kaizen VS LQC

An unstructured Group Kaizen at Executive level is nothing but Quality Improvement Team (QIT), which is a cross functional team (CFT). Structured group Kaizen for non executives is Quality Circle (QC), LQC or SGA.

An Unstructured group, giving an idea is suggestion, but when implemented, it becomes Kaizen. Implementation of an idea from individual kaizen or kaizen from an unstructured group becomes very difficult, when other department people’s involvement is required, ie. Instrumentation or carpentry or welding, etc. They are likely to feel that, while they are helping in implementation, they may not be recognized. Hence, many of the kaizen ideas are only in the register. Only by the force of management, these ideas will get implemented, but helping departments may not cooperate willingly.

In LQC, the group members are based on the involvement of concerned people from different departments. They feel a sense of ownership in it. Hence, they will contribute happily to implement the idea.

Hence, Quality Circle is a must to develop the people to become creative, making them problem solvers, developing team work and team spirit.

LQC is the emergence from the learning stage of QC/SGA. It has unique features of cross functional team element at non executive levels and one executive will also be the member of the team who will act as project facilitator. The scope of projects in LQC will be to take up the projects of eliminating different types of waste as well as adding value to processes. During project presentation the facilitator will also be a part of project presenter. This will help to clarify the technical aspects of project for the benefit of listeners.

LQC will help to reduce also the 8th wastage, ie. “Failure to utilize employees’ potential in creativity and through this, lot of value addition will take place to the projects through problem solving / improvement projects, thus meeting the overall objectives / goals of the company.