Kaoru Ishikawa

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Kaoru Ishikawa Biography

Kaoru Ishikawa (July 13, 1915 – April 16, 1989) was a Japanese organizational theorist, Professor at the Faculty of Engineering at The University of Tokyo and chemical engineer. He was born in Tokyo, Japan. He belonged to a family dedicated to the industry.

Ishikawa received a very good education in the best institutions in the Japanese capital. Then, he studied in 1939 at the prestigious University of Tokyo, where he received the title of a chemical engineer. At the end of his career, he entered the world of industry and then approached the military world.

Later, he would be one of the promoters of quality control in industries, and he began to work as a consultant in numerous companies and institutions interested in the development strategies. At that time, the industry was hit by the effects of the war and recovering production was very important, therefore, the popularity of quality control and Ishikawa’s contributions happened to be very important.

Later on, he would obtain his doctorate on engineering at the University of Tokyo and in 1960, he would be hired to be an engineering professor at the same institution. Because his performance, he was awarded the Deming Prize and a recognition of the ASQC (American Society for Quality Control).

In 1960, Japan would enter to the international International Organization for Standardization (ISO) created in order to establish standards for various companies and products. Ishikawa was there until 1977, during this time he had the honor of being the president for the Japanese delegation.

Upon completing his work with the ISO, he served as president of the Musashi Institute of Technology in Japan. His expertise in the field of quality control was admirable. He made contributions to the implementation of quality systems appropriate to the value of the process in the company. He was a great administrator, raised a theory of the quality system, characterized by two levels of management and evolution which would be known as Ishikawa diagram, later on. This model contains some graphics that aim to classify the causes of problems by categories.

For his contribution to the administration, he is considered the father of the scientific analysis of the causes of problems in industrial processes. Ishikawa defines quality control as a method that consists in developing, designing, elaborating and maintaining a quality product that is economical, useful and always satisfactory for the consumer. In his classes, he always emphasizes in the importance that the companies structure a Quality Training Plan, given to all levels of the organization, whose objectives must correspond to the strategic objectives of the organization.

The Ishikawa Diagram was also nicknamed: fishbone diagram and had a big impact. Many companies that began to implement it improved their profitability and some overcame deep structural and financial problems.

The first company that applied it was the Kawasaki Iron Fukiai Works, in 1952. After the resounding success of Kawasaki, the popularity of Ishikawa’s model increased as well as the business activity. Therefore, Japanese consumers found more affordable and higher quality products.

The insatiable spirit of Karou Ishikawa generated various studies and analysis to improve his theories and also implemented others: control sheets, Pareto analysis, in order to classify, identify and solve problems. Also, scatter diagrams, control charts and Stratification Analysis.

Another of his great contributions was the circle of quality, practice or technique used in the management of organizations that allow a team from any area of ​​the company to find solutions to problems detected in their respective dependencies, or also to improve some aspect that characterizes their job. From this moment on, the worker’s conception changed in relation to the company and vice versa, because the worker was empowered and responsible, because they could be promoters of the improvement of the company’s operations, who could contribute to improve quality, also increase productivity.

His main ideas were expressed in his most important book called “What is total quality control ?: the Japanese modality.” In this text, he states that Total Quality Control in Japan must impact all the members of the company, from the higher positions to the lower, all have power, in different ways, to boost the company.

We see that Ishikawa was interested in changing the way people think about their work. Currently, he is known as one of the most famous gurus of world quality.

Kaoru Ishikawa suffered a stroke that had him ill for several months and then caused his death on April 16, 1989, in Tokyo.

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