Revisiting Ishikawa's Original Seven Basic Tools of Quality Control: A Global Study and Some New Insights

Jiju Antony, Olivia McDermott, Michael Sony*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this global study is to investigate the validity of Dr. Ishikawa's statement that “95% of problems in processes can be solved using the 7 Quality Control (QC) tools” in organizations. An online survey instrument was developed, disseminated, and responded to by a total of 456 senior quality professionals from five different continents. The main finding of this article suggests that less than 25% of participants perceived that the seven tools of QC can solve above 95% of quality problems while 40% of quality professionals stated that they had incorrectly applied the tools “right first time” during the problem solving. Pareto analysis was the most widely used tool across all sectors while the least used tools are scatter diagrams and stratification. The seven QC tools were widely utilized in production or manufacturing areas but least applied in IT and finance functions. The common benefits from the use of seven basic tools of QC in all sectors include: providing structure to the problem-solving efforts; aids problem solving and helps in problem definition, measurement, and analysis. This article presents a list of critical success factors (CSFs) required for the proper application of the seven QC tools including having management support and a commitment to tool usage as well as having a continuous improvement initiative to encourage tool usage. This article is the first global research focused on investigating Dr. Ishikawa's statement: “95% of problems in processes can be solved using the 7 QC tools.” The findings further facilitate an important first step toward understanding the applicability, benefits, CSFs, and challenges to utilizing these tools in organizations across sectors and globally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4005-4020
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
Issue number11
Early online date26 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes

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