Quality Control Circle

A small group of workers and their team leader who collectively identify problems in their work area, analyze them, and provide solutions.

In contrast to other companies, particularly in the West, circles at Toyota are integrated into the overall total quality control system and shop-floor organization. Toyota circles meet two to three times per month from 30 to 60 minutes.

Management expert Peter Drucker noted that circles were used widely in the U.S. during World War II. They reached their greatest success in Japan after the war. The U.S. re-imported them during the quality movement of the 1970s and 1980s. Unfortunately, circles at U.S. companies often were not integrated into an overall continuous improvement effort. These isolated circles dissolved as the fad faded in the late 1980s.