By Kozo Sakano
In business process improvement and lean management, the importance of JKK (Ji-Kotei-Kanketsu) has been emphasized in the past few years.
It means that each employee fulfills his or her duty at each process with a sense of ownership so that no defect goes onto the following process.
I would say that it is to put a high premium on the ownership of your own process. Sounds good, but it`s not anything new. As it is always said in the Toyota Way of manufacturing - the next process is our customer.
However, we need to pay attention to the meaning “Ji” or “own” seriously. It seems that employees have the idea that as long as they fulfill their own processes, their job is done. They cannot see the whole picture of what is going on. They tend to think that “We have only to perfect our process,” which is result oriented to each process. With this mind-set, we don’t see any sign or spirit of total participation.
In any job there will be something left unfinished. Systems cannot perform optimally all of the time. What is important at this stage is capability or (capable personnel) who can fill the gaps with their advanced skills, knowledge and sensitivity acquired from long years of experience. We may be able to call this a hidden function like the inner muscles of the company. The success of the company usually depends on this important element.
I still remember with the vividness of yesterday the time when Toyota Motor Industrial Company and Toyota Sales Company merged. I was strongly impressed by the excellent performance of each member and the high employee motivation that was evident. The employees were so particular about their duties in terms of quality and efficiency. For them it was natural that they create no defects. What is more, they were always trying to eliminate any possible negative factors that might affect the next process. There was no “own process completion.” They used to believe in dedicated continuous improvement process or lean kaizen. Improvement after improvement. Those small efforts accumulated, forming a vivid organism called TOYOTA. These days I may have nostalgic yearning for the day of Total Quality Control rather than Total Quality Management, when people used to conduct operations in process orientation.