Kaoru Ishikawa

KaoruIshikawaKaoru Ishikawa developed the concept of Quality Circles and Cause and Effect (Fishborne) Diagram.


Kaoru Ishikawa was born in 1915 in Tokyo. He graduated from Tokyo University in 1939 with an engineering degree in applied chemistry. Following a short time in the military he worked for the Nissan Liquid Fuel Company from 1941 – 1947 before becoming an associate professor at the University of Tokyo. In 1978 he became president of the Musashi Institute of Technology.


Ishikawa wanted to change the way people think about work. He challenged managers who were content to merely improve a product's quality, instead insisting that quality improvement can always go one step further. He promoted the concept of company wide quality control that called for continued customer service. This level of service would extend throughout the company, including all levels of management and indeed even reaching into the every day lives of those involved. According to Ishikawa the process of continuous quality improvement can ALWAYS be taken one step further.


In 1960 Ishikawa, in conjunction with JUSE, developed the concept of Quality Circles, and in close association with Nippon Telephone & Telegraph, he experimented on what effect the "leading hand" could have on quality. Quality Circles soon became very popular and formed an important link to Total Quality Management systems (TQM) in over 50 countries. Ishikawa subsequently published two books on Quality Circles; QC Circle Koryo and How to Operate QC Circle Activities.


Ishikawa is also credited with developing the Cause and Effect Diagram, also known as the Ishikawa Diagram or more simplistic Fishbone Diagram. With the use of this diagram the user can see all the possible causes of any given result, and hopefully identity the root process of imperfections, thusly allowing quality improvement to be driven from the "bottom up".


In addition to his own developments, Iskikawa drew on, and expanded upon ideas and principles from other notable quality management gurus, even expanding Deming's PDCA model into a six step plan:

1. Determine goals and targets

2. Determine methods of reaching goals

3. Engage in education and training

4. Implement work

5. Check the efforts of implementation

5. Take appropriate action


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 Japanese government.



QC Circle Koryo

How to Operate QC Circle Activities

Ishikawa, Kaoru (1990); (Translator: J. H. Loftus);

Introduction to Quality Control;