Quality Circles LO29964

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@postino.up.ac.za)
Date: 03/04/03

Replying to LO29956 --

Dear Organlearners,

Andrew Campbell < ACampnona@aol.com > writes:

>I have managed to unearth an old copy of Mike Robson's
>book published in the early eighties, and reprinted in 1984
>(in the UK), from which this..." The QC assumes people are
>sensible and the QC concept assumes they can make up their
>own minds about opportunities and that they ( the 'workers'
>as opposed to 'managers') are adults and not children."

Greetings dear Andrew,

As usual your contribution gave me a couple of hours of delightful mental

The "adults and not children" made me think of ancient craftsmanship. One
of the things which strikes me when i browse through a museum is the many
artifacts which bear witness to incredible craftsmanship. Then my mind
begin to wonder -- what did these ancients had to produce objects with
such breathtaking quality? They definitely did not have such things as
TQM, Six Sigma and ISO9000. But they also did not have managers and a
division of labour in specialised sections to produce one product. What
they had can be described as guilds, the ancient version of Senge's
concept of a Learning Organisation.

It made me think. Thomas Hobbes (1651) proposed strong centralized
leadership as the means for bringing "order to the chaos created by man".
He justified autocratic managers which paved the for way for
organisational management through the nineteenth century. But also was
needed an Adam Smith (1776) who, in his The Wealth of Nations,
revolutionized economic and organizational thought by proposing that labor
and equipment must be centralised in factories, workers must become
specialized in a division along the production line so that they must be
managed by an overseer who has to put all together.

Craftsmanship and the inherent quality associated with it hit the dust
with the advent of the twentieth century. This necetated invariably the
use of quality audits and quality control. Can we reverse the course of
history? Can we unmake the work of Hobbes and Smith? Quality Circles (CQs)
is one of several attempts to bring craftsmanship back to the work place.
But all these attempts could not deviate the course of modern factories
and other organisations with even one degree. The division and
specialisation of labour has become the Holy Grail.

Just have a look at all the courses available at the famous Universty of
Oxford close to you. I do not think you will find ten which involve
craftmanship. Why? Because not only has quality hit the dust with the
division and specialisation of labour, but also wholeness (as well as the
five other 7Es -- seven essentialities of creativity).

I decided to search with Google for "craftsmanship". It gave 426 000 hits.
Then i searched for "quality circles". It gave 15 600 hits. But when i
searched for both of them, it gave me merely 93 hits. The reason? When i
added also "wholeness", i got but 2 hits. Yes, wholeness did not merely
hit the dust, but submerged completely!

As you have formulated it:-

>...Re-reading the book now, even just a little, makes me
>think there are connections between LO's and QC's. One
>other thing I sense - they are ground-up - or from
>background to forgrounded ;-)

that which modern civilisation has pushed into the background will have to
be brought back into sight. But let us not make "treasure maps" of them
because then all will be in vain. How? Modern civilisation is falling
apart. Even the global corprations are now imploding one by one. This
provides the condition to transform our organisations into LOs. But then
our organisations will have to become prepared for taking the initiative
-- "to hang together or otherwise hang individually".

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <amdelange@postino.up.ac.za> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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