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Learn About Quality

The 7 Basic Quality Tools for Process Improvement

Quality Glossary Definition: Seven tools of quality

"The Old Seven."

"The First Seven."

"The Basic Seven."

Quality pros have many names for these seven basic tools of quality, first emphasized by Kaoru Ishikawa, a professor of engineering at Tokyo University and the father of "quality circles." Start your quality journey by mastering these tools, and you'll have a name for them too: "indispensable."

Cause-and-effect diagram (also called Ishikawa or fishbone diagrams): Identifies many possible causes for an effect or problem and sorts ideas into useful categories.

Check sheet: A structured, prepared form for collecting and analyzing data; a generic tool that can be adapted for a wide variety of purposes.

Control chart: Graph used to study how a process changes over time. Comparing current data to historical control limits leads to conclusions about whether the process variation is consistent (in control) or is unpredictable (out of control, affected by special causes of variation).

Histogram: The most commonly used graph for showing frequency distributions, or how often each different value in a set of data occurs.

Pareto chart: A bar graph that shows which factors are more significant.

Scatter diagram: Graphs pairs of numerical data, one variable on each axis, to look for a relationship.

Stratification: A technique that separates data gathered from a variety of sources so that patterns can be seen (some lists replace "stratification" with "flowchart" or "run chart"). 


7 Basic Quality Tool Templates

These templates will help you get started using the seven basic quality tools. Just download the spreadsheets and begin entering your own data.

7 Basic Quality Tool Case Studies

Can a Fishbone Diagram Stop a Bully? (PDF) In Community Consolidated School District 15, elementary students use quality tools to set goals, track academic progress, and even address behavioral issues such as playground bullying.

Quality Club Teaches Today’s Learners to Become Tomorrow's Leaders (PDF) Students who participate in a quality club at Hunting Ridge School in Palatine, Illinois, learn continuous improvement methods and then conduct training sessions for their peers. 

Organize Your Quality Tool Belt (PDF) These quality tools can help you understand, analyze and improve your organization's processes.

Use Check Sheets to Identify the Causes of Downtime (Quality Progress) A true case study demonstrates how organizing information can help solve problems.

Excerpted from The Quality Toolbox, Second Edition, ASQ Quality Press.

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