Kaoru Ishikawa
Kaoru Ishikawa

Kaoru Ishikawa is considered the Father of Japanese Quality. He invented the Fishbone diagram (aka 4M/5M or cause and effect diagram) and CWQC – Company Wide Quality Control. He also sponsored the concept of “next operation (process step) as the client” to avoid workplace politics.

Kaoru Ishikawa Biography

The oldest of eight sons Kaoru was born in 1915. He went to the University of Tokyo and received an engineering degree in applied chemistry. After working at Nissan until 1947, Kaoru started as an associate professor at the university where he went to school. Then in 1978 he assumed the presidency of the Musashi Institute of Technology. He is considered to be instrumental in the developing of quality initiatives in Japan notably of which is the quality circle. He is also known for the Ishikawa (fishbone diagram) which is used in the analysis of industrial processes.

He spent his life trying to make people think differently about the way they work. He always tried to get management not to become complacent with just improving a products quality. He always said that you can take those improvements and go one step further. He had a belief that you should service your customers even after they have bought the products.

Kaoru Ishikawa noticed that a lack of internal coordination in the operations affected a customer’s needs. Improved cooperation led to better quality & process efficiency. His policy of “the next process is your customer” refers to a desire for better cooperation among a company’s internal departments. “Do it right”, “zero defects”, and process efficiency are all parts of that statement.

He was a strong believer in the fact that top level personnel had to give support to all the team under their control, all the time. He felt that if top level management did not take quality control courses those programs would not succeed.

Dr. Ishikawa followed other quality control believers as well. One of those was W. Edwards Deming the creator of Plan-Do-Check-Act model. As a matter of fact he expanded that into a 6 step plan from a 4:

  • Determine goals and targets
  • Determine methods of reaching those goals
  • Engage in education and training
  • Implement the work
  • Chuck the effects of implementation
  • Take appropriate action

He has received many awards and among them are the Shewhart Medal for outstanding technical leadership in the field of modern quality control and the Order of the Sacred Treasure (Japan) for outstanding technical leadership in the field of modern quality control. He also has been recognized by the ASQ. He has been awarded the Industrial Standardization Prize for writings on quality control, the Nihon Keizai Press Prize and the Grant Award from the American Society for quality control for his education program on quality control.

Dr. Ishikawa is widely recognized as one of the leading authority in quality control techniques and training. His methods have been utilized by Komatsu, Bridgestone and IBM just to name a few. He has shown them how to manufacture better quality products at a lower cost factor. “What is Total Quality Control? The Japanese Way” his book from Prentice Hall, Inc. was a best seller in the business sector.

Dr. Ishikawa highly believed in the strength of six quality tools:

  1. Control chart
  2. Histogram
  3. Flow chart
  4. Run chart
  5. Scatter diagram
  6. Pareto chart

Dr. Ishikawa’s Timeline:

1915 – Born on July 13th.

1939 – Graduated in applied chemistry from the University of Tokyo

Worked in coal liquefaction where he got experience in design, construction, operations and research.

1939-1941 – Naval Tech Officer overseeing 600 workers to construct a factory which he said was invaluable in his QC career later in life.

1947 – Became a researcher at the University of Tokyo where he began studying statistical methods.

1949 – Joined JUSE QC research where he became an instructor.

1952 – Became the Chemical Society of Japan’s Director.

1960 – Received his promotion to professor and his Doctorate of Engineering at the Musashi Institute of Technology.

1969 – Became a member of the ISO, Japan.

1970 – Began having quality control training seminars. Worked with Ford, American Society for Quality Control and thousands of other companies.

1977 – Chairman of ISO, Japan.

1981 – Executive member of ISO and published ”What is Total Quality Control? The Japanese Way”, first edition.

1989 – Died on April 16.

Ishikawa and Quality Control

Dr. Ishikawa believed that company-wide quality control did not just mean the quality of the product being sold. It also included the quality of the management, the company itself, after sales service to the customer, and the human beings involved. He strongly believed that if all these things came together the following would happen:

  1. Cost is reduced
  2. Wasteful rework is reduced
  3. Reliability of goods is improved
  4. Production is increased
  5. Sales market is increased
  6. False data and reports are decreased
  7. Product quality & defects are reduced
  8. Better relationships between departments
  9. Human relations are improved
  10. Meetings run more smoothly
  11. Techniques are established
  12. Testing and inspection costs drop
  13. Vendor and vendee contracts better
  14. More democratic discussions
  15. Fewer equipment repairs and installs done

Dr. Ishikawa was a tireless leader who saw opportunities to make things better and went after them. He had a  full life and he has helped many companies around the globe have a better work force who can and do accomplish more than they ever thought possible.

Cause-effect Diagram


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