"Squaring off on quality circles" (Managing People, Angust) was an excellent article. I am concerned that it didn't go far enough, however.
My concern is that many companies see quality circles as a "quick fix" solution to serious problems. Quality circles are to a company what a huddle is to a football team Huddles help, but no football team ever won many games with their great huddles alone The same is true of quality circles. They can help greatly, but even the Japanese admit that at most they represent 10% of their managerial approach to achieving standards and maintaining quality.
I recall an old observation from the Quincy [Mass.] Shipyard: "Buttons, badges, and baloney won't put bucks in your billfold!" Neither will quality circles, without a needs analysis prior to their installation, continued managerial commitment, training, a Quality Assurance Plan, and methods of measuring and reporting the achievements of the plan. By themselves, without these supporting elements, quality circles become just so much more "buttons, badges, and baloney."