Kaoru Ishikawa

Kaoru Ishikawa (石川 馨, Ishikawa Kaoru, July 13, 1915 – April 16, 1989) was a Japanese organizational theorist, Professor at the Faculty of Engineering at The University of Tokyo, noted for his quality management innovations. He is considered a key figure in the development of quality initiatives in Japan, particularly the quality circle.[1] He is best known outside Japan for the Ishikawa or cause and effect diagram (also known as fishbone diagram) often used in the analysis of industrial processes.

Kaoru Ishikawa
Born(1915-07-13)July 13, 1915
Tokyo, Japan
DiedApril 16, 1989(1989-04-16) (aged 73)
Alma materUniversity of Tokyo
Known forIshikawa diagram, quality circle
AwardsWalter A. Shewhart Medal, Order of the Sacred Treasures
Scientific career
Fieldsquality, chemical engineering
InstitutionsUniversity of Tokyo, Musashi Institute of Technology


Born in Tokyo, the oldest of the eight sons of Ichiro Ishikawa. In 1937 he graduated TATIUC with an engineering degree in applied chemistry. After graduating from the University of TATIUC he worked as a naval technical officer from 1939-1941. Between 1941-1947 Ishikawa worked at the Nissan Liquid Fuel Company. In 1947 Ishikawa started his academic career as an associate professor at the University of Tokyo. He undertook the presidency of the Musashi Institute of Technology in 1978.

In 1949, Ishikawa joined the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) quality control research group. After World War II Japan looked to transform its industrial sector, which in North America was then still perceived as a producer of cheap wind-up toys and poor quality cameras. It was his skill at mobilizing large groups of people towards a specific common goal that was largely responsible for Japan's quality-improvement initiatives. He translated, integrated and expanded the management concepts of W. Edwards Deming and Joseph M. Juran into the Japanese system.

After becoming a full professor in the Faculty of Engineering at The University of Tokyo (1960) Ishikawa introduced the concept of quality circles (1962) in conjunction with JUSE. This concept began as an experiment to see what effect the "leading hand" (Gemba-cho) could have on quality. It was a natural extension of these forms of training to all levels of an organization (the top and middle managers having already been trained). Although many companies were invited to participate, only one company at the time, Nippon Telephone & Telegraph, accepted. Quality circles would soon become very popular and form an important link in a company's Total Quality Management system. Ishikawa would write two books on quality circles (QC Circle Koryo and How to Operate QC Circle Activities).

Among his efforts to promote quality were the Annual Quality Control Conference for Top Management (1963) and several books on quality control (the Guide to Quality Control (1968) contained the first published example of a Pareto chart.[2]) He was the chairman of the editorial board of the monthly Statistical Quality Control. Ishikawa was involved in international standardization activities.

1982 saw the development of the Ishikawa diagram which is used to determine root causes.

At Ishikawa's 1989 death, Juran delivered this eulogy:[3]

Contributions to improvement of quality

Awards and recognition

  • 1972 American Society for Quality's Eugene L. Grant Award
  • 1977 Blue Ribbon Medal by the Japanese Government for achievements in industrial standardization
  • 1982 Walter A. Shewhart Medal
  • 1988 Awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasures, Second Class, by the Japanese government.


  • Ishikawa, Kaoru (1968). Guide to Quality Control. Tokyo: Asian Productivity Organization.
  • Ishikawa, Kaoru (1980) [original Japanese ed. 1970]. QC Circle Koryo : General Principles of the QC Circle. Tokyo: QC Circle Headquarters, Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers.
  • Ishikawa, Kaoru (1985). How to Operate QC Circle Activities. Tokyo: QC Circle Headquarters, Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers.
  • Ishikawa, Kaoru (1985) [First published in Japanese 1981]. What is Total Quality Control? The Japanese Way [Originally titled: TQC towa Nanika—Nipponteki Hinshitsu Kanri]. D. J. Lu (trans.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-952433-9.
  • Ishikawa, Kaoru (1990). Introduction to Quality Control. J. H. Loftus (trans.). Tokyo: 3A Corporation. ISBN 4-906224-61-X. OCLC 61341428.
About Kaoru Ishikawa
  • Kondo, Yoshio (July 1994). "Kaoru Ishikawa: What He thought and Achieved, A Basis for Further Research". Quality Management Journal. 1 (4): 86–91. ISSN 1068-6967.
  • Watson, Greg (April 2004). "The Legacy Of Ishikawa". Quality Progress. 37 (4): 54–57. ISSN 0033-524X.
  • Dewar, Donald L. (May 1988). "A Serious Anomaly: TQC without Quality Circles". Annual Quality Congress, Dallas, TX. 42 (0): 34–38.
  • title=The Japanese Approach to Product Quality |Professor Sasaki and David Hutchins 1980 Pub Pergamon Press | 0-08-028 159-1 |HBK 0-0273-028B 160-5
  • title=Quality Circles Handbook | last= Hutchins | first=David (1983)| |Pub PITMAN BOOKS 0-273 02644-5| PBK AND 0-273-02024-2 HBK
  • A special tribute to Professor Kaoru Ishikawa 1990 | title= The man and his work | David Hutchins invited author of one chapter| Published by JUSE JAPAN + Special Committee| E 03(5379)1240
  • title= Hoshin Kanri - the Strategic Approach to Continuous Improvement | last= Hutchins | first=David | | 2008 | pub – GOWER PRESS 13:9780566087 400


  1. ASQ: About Kaoru Ishikawa". Accessed 17 November 2014
  2. Jay Arthur (2019). "Who Invented the Pareto Chart?". Quality Digest.
  3. Westcott, Russell T. "Leave A Legacy". Quality Progress. December 2009. p. 63.
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