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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: You can’t flow or pull without Jidoka

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a comment

Let me build on my colleagues insights:

1.     Jidoka is a socio-technical system.  Both the social and technical challenges are tough — but the former more so.

2.     Technical challenge:  How to translate customer requirements into meaningful upstream measures?  How to make the Good/No Good condition visible (see Art Smalley’s post)?  The following are part of the answer:

a.    Deep understanding of the customer — and the ability to translate that understanding into the meaningful quality specs

i.     In the consumer goods industry this might entail providing clear simple answers to questions like:

1.    What does “soft” mean? What does “dry” mean?

ii.     In the auto industry it means answering stuff like

1.    What does “good fit” mean?  What does “quiet” mean?

iii.     These end-of-pipe specs can then be translated by Design and Engineering into meaningful downstream specs — the critical Good/No Good goal posts upon which Jidoka depends

b.    Strategy Deployment — (a planning and execution system that supports getting the right things done)

i.     Defining True North, your strategic and philosophical objective,

ii.     Identifying the obstacles to achieving True North and developing sound strategies to eliminate them

iii.     Deploying — i.e. translating — these strategies level by level into meaningful metrics and activities

c.     Core understanding of Lean fundamentals throughout the organization

i.     Team members have learned 5 S, visual management, standardized work etc. — and know how to use them to make the Good/No Good visible.  Moreover, leaders know the fundamentals too — and encourage their use

d.    Supportive Human Resources policies

i.     We encourage kaizen by providing team member with the time and resources to develop pokayokes (e.g. training in small tool use, maintenance support when team members lack the skill to build a given jig etc.)

3.     Social/governance challenge: How to create a culture where people “wanna do it” (to use Mike Rother’s phrase)?

a.    Mental models underlying jidoka are understood and reinforced. For example,

i.     Problems are gold — treasure them

ii.     Problems are the “process talking to us”

iii.     Don’t ship junk!

iv.     Every day a little up!

v.     The leader’s job is to develop capability — by challenging existing thinking

vi.     And so on

b.    Leaders recognize and reinforce the core mental models every day — to help you “wanna do it”

i.     So “junk merchants” don’t get promoted

c.     Reward structures support Jidoka — to help you “wanna do it”

i.     Most obvious one: you don’t get reward for shipping junk!

d.    Consciousness that jidoka is as important outside the factory

i.     We deploy Lean thinking outside the factory

ii.     We tackle the socio-technical aspects of Jidoka in Marketing, Design, Engineering, Distribution, Purchasing, Scheduling and so on

1.    (That’s what my book, The Remedy, is about)


Meeting Jidoka’s technical and governance challenges entails understanding the nature of the challenge, developing a good Jidoka strategy, and taking the long view (3 – 5 years).

I’d second my colleagues who say that true Jidoka is rare.  It’s an Ideal — one we may never achieve, but we have to try.

In my consulting work, we find that comparatively few companies are ready to work on both the Technical and Social/Governance sides of Jidoka.

(We advise companies to spend the first few years of their Lean journey developing stability.)

Here are some prerequisites for successful jidoka:

a) We’ve been practicing Lean for years and have stability in the Four M’s — (manpower, methods, machinery and materials),
b) We understand our customer and are able to translate and deploy their needs to all levels of the organization,
c) We have a solid Strategy Deployment system which keeps us focused on what’s important, and
d) We have tough, talented leaders (at all levels)

We find companies that commit to Jidoka “partially succeed” — which means industry leadership and “money falling from the sky.”

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