As per the Japanese Human Relations Association (1997a), the implementation of Japanese Kaizen (Figure 2.12) includes two different improvement practices and is driven by a simple four-step (PDCA) method: (1) the identification of problems; (2) the
development of good solutions; (3) the implementation of those solutions; and (4) the standardisation of the improved results and prepare for future improvement (Recht and Wilderom, 1998; Masaki, 2006; Kupanhy, 2007; Toshiko and Shook, 2007).
The two practices are Quality Control Circle programmes (QCCs, group-based improvement programmes, QC (Ishikawa, 1980; Crocker et al., 1984;Ishikawa, 1985a; Suzaki, 1993) and Teians (Japanese for personal improvement suggestions/proposals,)(Yasuda, 1989; Nihon HR Ky?kai, 1995). These both can be applied to utilise improvement ideas (Marin-Garcia et al., 2008) for identifying, investigating, analysing and solving work-related problems (Kono,1982; Charantimath, 2003).
The differences between the two improvement practices
Taking into consideration the previous researches, the approach adopted for implementing these two practices are clearly different in many ways. QCCs (or just QCs) constitutes group-based activities that include a small number of volunteer employees. The group is small enough to allow face-to-face communication (Lillrank and Kano, 1989), i.e., between 5 to 15 members (Ma et al., 2010). They meet at regular interval (e.g., once per week) (Greenbaum et al., 1988; Lillrank and Kano, 1989; Sillince et al., 1996; Bacdayan, 2001) to exchange ideas and expertise for improvement (e.g., quality or costs of manufacturing, and health and safety of shop floor) (Terziovski and Sohal, 2000; Charantimath, 2003, pp., p293). They are highly dependent on cross-functional teams (Bessant et al., 1994), support from production line supervisors and top management (Prado, 2001; Milakovich, 2006) with focus on group decisions to develop improvement themes with specific and measurable goals (Landsbergis and Cahill, 1999; Doolen et al., 2008). In contrast, Teians offer a procedure for collecting and evaluating individual personal suggestions (Akaoka, 1983; Neagoe and Marascu_Klein, 2009). They are dependent on individuals’ willingness to make implementable (hands-on) improvement ideas (van Dijk and van Den Ende, 2002) which also includes the completion of a Teian sheets (i.e., paper-based or electronic, Japan Human Relations Association, 1997a; Schuring and Luijten, 2001).
Figure 2.13 A QC story by Honda Motor Europe (1998, p14-15)
Figure 2.14 An example of a Teian Sheet from one of the case company archives
QCCs conceptualize improvement plans that are approved by management. They must follow an implementation procedure or standardised pattern approach (i.e., QC story or QCC guide book) (Figure 2.13) (Akaoka, 1983; Inoue, 1985; Ho, 1999, pp., p161; Farris, 2006). In contrast, Teians collect personal improvement sheets which relate to previously implemented solutions and outcomes (Figure 2.14) (Akaoka, 1983; Nihon HR Ky?kai, 1995). Although both QCCs and Teians can be considered for producing work-related improvements, they have separate scales. QCCs are formal improvement bodies (Lillrank and Kano, 1989) and primarily implement improvement on a department- wide/ company-wide basis (Inoue, 1985; Terziovski and Sohal, 2000; Harrington, 2006), as these changes are embeded in the company’s long-term total quality control activities (Ishikawa, 1990; Charantimath, 2003). Quite a few of the QCC themes are designed for problem solving (i.e., improving the quality of goods), others are expected to make innovative changes to shop floor/workplaces on a continuous basis (i.e., to introduce new machinery or manufacturing techniques to increase productivity) (Ishikawa, 1990; Milakovich, 2006). In contrast, Teians are intended to resolve local problems within the proposers’ immediate working area on production shop floor (Nihon HR Ky?kai, 1995, pp., p5). Almost all of these problems are small-scale and thus any improvement made is simple (Marin-Garcia et al., 2008) and primarily based on hands-on knowledge (Yasuda, 1989).
Figure 2.15 Ishikawa’s 7 QC Tools, adopted from Pescod (1994, p12)
Thus, the different degrees of change, require different knowledge and skills for implementation. For the group-based QCCs it is a pre-requisite for the members to have a good knowledge of improvement (Toshiko and Shook, 2007) and use Ishikawa’s QC statistical tools (Figure 2.15) for the creation of the improvement themes (Ishikawa, 1980; JUSE, 2010), whereas, Teians are very much dependent on participants’ shop floor experience and production skills.
QCCs and Teians differ in their implementation time-frames as well. Although the implementation follows Deming’s PDCA cycle continuously (Figure 2.16), most of the QCC projects have well defined time limits (Harrington, 2006, pp., p14). They have pre-set targets and expected outcomes (Ishikawa, 1990; Terziovski and Sohal, 2000), and aim to be finished within predetermined duration (Kerrin and Oliver, 2002; Rapp and Eklund, 2002); e.g, 6 months, or no more than a year (Honda Motor, 1998), as a new QCC project will probably need to be started afterwards (Ma et al., 2010). However, the end result of a QCC is not an actual improvement, but an action plan for change which is then presented before management for approval (Crocker et al., 1984; Cohen and Bailey, 1997). The Teians, in contrast to QCCs, are generally applied immediately to make gradual changes and only after implementation the change, the details are recorded for evaluation. Each of the changes may be small, but they can be exceptionally well managed (Rapp and Eklund, 2002) and implemented on a continuous basis (Nihon HR Ky?kai, 1995).
Figure 2.16 Team-based improvement (e.g., QCC) implementation follows Deming’s PDCA cycle continuously (Wood and Munshi, 1991, p220)
QCCs and Teians use different reward methodologies to motivate participation (Recht and Wilderom, 1998; Kerrin and Oliver, 2002; Milakovich, 2006) (Table 2.3), and are evaluated differently by a committee of mangers (Yasuda, 1989; Frese et al., 1999). In contrast, rewards for Teians are based on improvement participation (Nihon HR Ky?kai, 1995; Fairbank and Williams, 2001). A Teian suggestion is based upon improvements that record what has been done on the proposers’ (Imai, 1986; Tamura, 2006) “immediate work area” (Nihon HR Ky?kai, 1995, p5). Hence, the emphasis of Teians should be on “proposing ideas that the shop floor workers could implement themselves”, not just “suggesting for improvement” (Nihon HR Ky?kai, 1995, p18), as “Kaizen Teians is doing, not proposing suggestions” (Laraia et al., 1999, p6). In this sense, recognitions and rewards for Teians are given to motivate participation (Bessant and Francis, 1999). A few Teians may have bigger rewards, but the majority are given at a fixed-rate to the individual proposer (Japan Human Relations Association, 1997a; Milakovich, 2006). In contrast, although the voluntary participation in QCCs is also critical (Crocker et al., 1984), rewards are not directly offered to the meetings but based on the utility of the end outcomes (Ma, 2008; Marin-Garcia et al., 2008; Ma et al., 2010). The objective of QCCs is to make comparatively larger changes which are based on specified improvement goals (i.e. themes) (Ishikawa, 1990; Milakovich, 2006). Thus, the actual improvement outcomes are compared against the specified goals (Lillrank and Kano, 1989), with rewards given to only the accepted themes (Recht and Wilderom, 1998), and based on the improvement achieved (Allen and Kilmann, 2001). Rewards for QCCs are given to the group (Kerrin and Oliver, 2002), rather than to individuals (Crocker et al., 1984).
Results Improvement outcomes Participation
Objects Group Individuals
Forms Monetary and non-monetary reward Fixed-rate money reward
Table 2.3 Differences between the rewards given to QCCs and Teians, concluded from Milakovich (2006), Yasuda (1989), Lillrank and Kano (1989) and Ma et al. (2010)