Last Updated 28 Jan 2021

Kaoru Ishikawa

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Kaoru Ishikawa was born in Tokyo Japan in 1939. He earned his Engineering degree in applied chemistry from the University of Tokyo. After Graduating from college he was a navel technical officer until 1941. He worked at the Nissian Liquid Fuel Company until 1947 and then began his educational vocation at the University of Tokyo. In 1978 he became Musashi Institute of Technology President (Kaoru Ishikawa, 2008). Ishikawa came to be known as the “father of the Quality revolution” to the people of Japan.

When he was a professor at Tokyo University he realized the importance of the quality control methods that were introduced to his country by W. E Deming and J. R Juarn. He applied those methods to work with his country’s industries. Ishikawa developed the “quality circles”, the cause and effect diagram, and the importance of the seven quality tools. In addition, he wrote several books that explained statistics to the nonspecialist which one was the Guide to Quality Control. Another book he wrote was how to Operate QC Circle Activities which is based on quality circles.

Quality circles are a method used to improve quality. Quality circles were developed in Japan in 1962 by Kaoru Ishikawa. A quality circle is a volunteer group of employees from the same work area who meet together to discuss work place improvement (Quality Circles, 2008). Quality circles were first used at the Nippon Telegraph and Cable Company in 1962 ("Death of Professor," 1989). Ishikawa had only intended his methods of quality circles to be used for Japan but it has now spread to more than 50 countries.

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With the development of Ishikawa’s cause and effect diagram management leaders made large advancements in quality improvement ( Kaoru Ishikawa: One Step, 2011). With this new diagram users can see all of the possible causes of a result and find the process of imperfections ( Kaoru Ishikawa: One Step, 2011). The cause and effect diagram can easily be used by non- specialist to analyze and solve problems. Dr. E. W Deming used this diagram to teach Total Quality Control in Japan. Another name for Ishikawa’s cause and effect diagram is the Ishikawa or fishbone diagram.

Ishikawa showed the importance of the seven Quality tools which are control chart, run chart, histogram scatter diagram, Pareto chart and flow chart. Ishikawa also expanded on Deming’s four steps into six steps which are determine goals and targets, determine methods of reaching goals, engage in education and training, implement work, check the effects of implementation, and take appropriate action ( Kaoru Ishikawa: One Step, 2011). Ishikawa also wrote and was the editor of many books.

He wrote Guide to Quality control in 1968, as well as What Is Total Quality Control in 1981. He was the editor of QC circle Koryo in 1970, and How to operate QC Circle activates in 1971. Ishikawa has been credited with Japan’s quality achievements and has received many awards such as the Deming prize, and the blue ribbon medal which was given to him by the Japanese government. His work has changed how people perceive quality management and many of his methods and books are still used to this day by large and small businesses.


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