A small group of employees and their team leader who together identify and analyze problems in their work area and propose solutions.
Unlike at other companies, especially in the West, at Toyota these kinds of quality circles are integrated into the overarching Total Quality Control system and into the way the shop floor is organized. Toyota quality circles meet two to three times a month for thirty to sixty minutes.
Management expert Peter Drucker noted that quality circles were widely used in the United States during World War II. They achieved their greatest success in postwar Japan. During the quality movement of the 1970s and 1980s, they were again imported by the United States. Unfortunately, quality circles in American companies were often not embedded in an overall commitment to continuous improvement. These isolated circles disappeared when the craze passed its peak in the late 1980s.