Own-Process Completion as the Basis of Lean Quality

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 1.36.52 PMJKK sounds like something that the young people of today might say or text in reaction to hurting another’s feelings, as in “Just kidding, OK?” In fact, it’s one of the lesser known Toyota concepts that underpin the 2nd pillar of TPS, namely jidoka. This is very ably described and explained by Toyota veteran and lean coach Tracey Richardson in her LinkedIn article Standardized Work Enhancement through JKK – Ji Koutei Kanketsu.

Sometimes translated as Self-completion Process, it is more accurate to call it Self-process Completion or even Own-process Completion, which I personally prefer. Both are used within Toyota. JKK is not a process, rather it is the idea of each process taking responsibility for passing good quality onto the next process. In the past this has been called built-in quality, in-process quality and other things. As Tracey explained in her article, Own-Process Completion includes the idea not only self-inspection, mistake-proofing and so forth to catch errors and prevent them going to the next process, but the “completion” of quality assurance within one’s own process by having everything needed in order to deliver good quality.

A Toyota Industries CSR document titled Doing All We Can to Maintain and Improve Quality explains JKK as

“In all processes, predetermined procedures must be carried out according to instructions in order to ensure that no defective items proceed to the next stage. In this way we are aiming to achieve manufacturing with own-process completion. This is vital for ensuring that the company only manufactures high quality products.”

The five-step pyramid in the image above does an excellent job of explaining how Own-Process Completion is achieved through the help of tools such as 5S, standardized work, check sheets, problem solving and in-process inspection. The article continues to explain how own-process completion extends beyond manufacturing, such as in product development through design reviews. The graphic on the 2nd page of the article illustrates how quality assurance spans design and development at Toyota.

Further on, in discussion of engaging the workforce in quality assurance, the no-nonsense naming of this award was particularly delightful:

“In 2006, we started a new “Thank-you-for-finding-the-problem award” at Toyota Industries to honor associates who sensed something unusual or different in their work and thereby detected a defect in the early stages, as well as to honor their superiors who took the necessary actions to help solve the problem.”

As explained on one of Toyota’s webpages in Japanese, Own-Process Completion is an evolution of In-process Quality by enabling each process to scientifically judge the outcome of their work as good or bad. A specific example of this approach was the project to eliminate rainwater leaking into their automobiles. The traditional test involved pouring large quantities of water onto the vehicle. A more scientific approach was developed by carefully checking the conditions of the 800 processes and doing kaizen to insure that all conditions to prevent rainwater leaks could were met.

Even more interesting is the explanation of how Own-Process Completion was applied to administrative, development and staff functions where customer requirements may be varied or vague, technologies advance quickly, work becoming increasingly specialized and complex, and quality challenges due to the loss of knowledge and expertise as veterans retire. Even for Toyota these factors create challenges for achieving manufacturing-type Own-Process Completion within the knowledge work domain. Successful knowledge work depends on a chain of good decision-making. Each decision output can be considered a process output. As such, the Toyota webpage explains that since 2007, Own-process Completion has been deployed in the back office functions. Here is my translation

“A scientific approach of 1) clarifying purpose and goals, 2) involving other departments in order to decide the sequence (process) of decision-making and breaking this sequence down into work elements, and 3) identifying what information, capabilities and the various conditions that result in good decision-making, and putting them in place.”

Here is my translation of the flow diagram from the website, explaining Toyota’s back office JKK approach. Click to expand.

 Toyota JKK back office English

I really find the back-to-basics explanation of Toyota is deploying lean, if we may call it that, and particularly jidoka and the Own-Process Control idea within the back office. Too many people are ready to drop the system of scientific improvement methods proven in industry the moment they encounter resistance due to new conditions encountered in creative or administrative work, declaring that they do not work, or reinventing domain-specific or sub-optimized sets of tools. The three step approach to Own-process Completion of identifying purpose and goals, enlisting involved departments to identify process steps, and prepare the conditions for success seems like an approach that will work in any environment.

1 Comment

  1. Rob Thompson

    June 17, 2015 - 7:37 am

    The basic JKK philosophy then is, “Build quality with ownership in the process”

    This mirrors what Foster said:

    “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.”

    The JKK process seems straightforward:

    – Identify who your customers are.
    – Identify the final outputs of the job
    – Develop an optimal work process
    – Establish the developed process via Kaizen improvements and standard work.

    This of course begs the question why don’t all organisations follow this then?