Jishuken is a Japanese term translates to autonomy, and is often referred to as “autonomous study groups” in English. While other Lean strategies or efforts are carried out by frontline employees and entry-level supervisors, Jishuken encourages managers to collaborate on a more personal and direct level. Jishuken directly involves those who are managers or on a leadership team, all the way up to the CEO, with the continuous improvement strategies in their department.
To understand this Lean concept a little better, take a look at Toyota’s steps in their own Jishuken process. Jisuken was originally developed by Toyota’s Operations Management Consulting Division but it is now used in Japanese companies and Lean organizations alike. Toyota’s steps for the Jishuken process are:
- Area for improvement: Managers will identify a specific area where improvement is needed.
- Team development: A team consisting of a leader and individuals from other affected departments will be developed to address the area of improvement.
- Monitoring functions: Each team member will be given a specific monitoring function they will be responsible for.
- Questions: The information gathering step, members of the team will need to ask questions about different tasks in the area needing improvement. Before making any changes, there needs to be as much understanding about the practices currently in place.
- Jishuken worksheet: The team leader will track any issue, as well as countermeasures or solutions, on a worksheet. This sheet should also identify who would be involved in making the listed changes.
- Meetings: The team leader will meet with the various operators in the areas where changes are to be made to discuss potential changes to be implemented.
- Posting: Results of the Jishuken process is posted in an area that can be seen and reviewed by all team members and any workers in the effected answers.
The process of Jishuken can typically range from one week to several months and other than Toyota, Jishuken is sometimes practiced as a Kaizen event.