The seven classic quality tools
Jerry Rice
55 Posts

The Quality Management Body of Knowledge includes The seven classic quality tools as a subsection of Quality Management Tools. The context in the body of knowledge is a Quality Manager should be able to, " Select, interpret, and evaluate output from these tools: Pareto charts, cause and effect diagrams, flowcharts, control charts, check sheets, scatter diagrams, and histograms.​

The Quality Management BOK is currently under review for revision. My question, is it still important for a quality manager to be able to evaluate the use of the seven classic quality tools? Are they still relevant to today’s quality manager?

7 Replies
There are two I rarely see used on the list the cause and effect diagram and the scatter diagrams.  I have seen a Problem Identification & Resolution tool using an A3 sheet that was useful that could be considered for adding.  It is interesting that FMEAs are not on the list as that is another common tool used that I think is important to quality.  Another tool that might be considered part of histograms would be trend analysis.

Just some quick thoughts to consider.
Jerry Rice
55 Posts

After reading through this section of the Quality Management BOK again, I think the seven "classic tools" are a package deal. I certainly don't see as many fishbone diagrams as I used to nor do I see hand made scatter plots that were prevelent years ago. It seems cause and effect diagrams have given way to matrices (in excel) and the only time I see scatter diagrams are as output from regression analysis. If the BOK references "the seven classic quality tools" then we can't change "classic" I suppose. I was wondering if the section should be renamed so that tools can be added and removed as times and technology change.

FMEA is referenced in a different place in the QMBOK under Process Improvement Tools along with root cause analysis, PDCA, and DMAIC. I have attached the entire Quality Management Tools portion of the Quality Management BOK. The A3 methodology isn't mentioned at all. I see Gantt charts are mentioned in basic management and planning tools, but there is no mention of Agile/ Scrum tools. I think many of the traditional planning tools will be giving way to Agile if they haven't already. 
Harry Rowe
87 Posts

I agree that the "Seven Classic Tools", also called the "Seven Basic Tools" are a package deal, as they were popularized by Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa as such. (As opposed to the "Seven New Tools" discussed by by Mizuno, for example.) Dr. Ishikawa apparently believed that 90% of quality problems could be solved with these tools. But as a practical matter, other than historical context, there is nothing magical about either the number seven or this group of seven tools. In fact, different authors don't always include the same seven. So either leave it alone or refer to it in a way that doesn't evoke the historical context and cause confusion. (I personally hate exam questions that emphasize the originator or history of a tool rather than how to use it.)
The missing tools on agile are clearly something to be added. I do not know if there is a list anywhere to begin, but this is something missing.
Hi Jerry,
I see the seven tools as the basic "language" of Quality in an organization. The Quality Manager may not use the tools that often him/herself but they are a core part of Quality Engineering and the manager should be able to select, interpret, and evaluate those tools. It is also the language that many customers expect the Quality team to be able to speak. I think that they are crucial and still very relevant to today's Quality Managers.
The seven classic quality tools are dead, long live the seven classic quality tools.

Seriously, 4 of the 7 are data visualization. As we move more and more to automation, this is something all those wonderful algorithms will do for us. In Industry 4.0/Quality 4.0 it will no longer be a requirement to build a Pareto, what will be critical is using it to drive decisions.

We should be shifting our focus now to develop the skill set of data visualization and data literacy. Focusing on the narrow set of tools is missing the mark. 
If many of these tools are now 'automated' using software, the exact software brand should not be referenced by us. We are not selling Minitab, for example. We need to teach when to use the tools, and when not to use them. 

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