Japanese Management Techniques
In Japanese, the word hourensou denotesto qualities appreciated for the description of teamwork and statistics movement inside operative Japanese commercial philosophy. This corporate culture in Japanese is an important aspect of management that has helped in the success of many organizations. Almost every management technique in Japan revolves around this rich cultural principle and it enables organization to achieve results through the involvement of every individual in the organization. As will be unveiled in the discussion of various management theories or techniques employed by Japanese organization, the idea of collaboration and active involvement in problem solving takes center stage.
Studies indicate that since the end of the termed pacific war’ modernization of Japanese ways of life has materialized as a national goal. The determinations are apparent in the course of justifying administration systems of large and small dealings in the country (Matejka 55). Because of technical revolutions taking place in production methods and increase in in integration, japan into the international economy has forced the country to devise better management techniques that could be adopted by all organizations locally and internationally to better their operations and increase productivity as well as profits. This discussion will show the application of these instances in and outside japan in various situations. This aims at proving the argument that Japanese management techniques are not just a passing fad but rather techniques that can foster growth and success in every area they are applied.
Philosophy assessment of Japanese administration practices
Many people or scholars may speculate that the Japanese management techniques are just another passing fad, but the following discussion aims at reveling the real factors behind the great success that Japanese businesses have enjoyed over the years to an extend of taking over strong united states markets. Studies indicate that productivity is the paraphernalia of which a country`s wealth is made. Without progressively snowballing productivity, a country`s standard of living will stagnate, the economic strength may wither and thereby weaken national security. Throughout history, relative economic growth of nations predetermines shifts of national power. For instance, after the second world war, England`s productivity growth has averaged at about 1.49 percent while that of Japan averaged at about 6.9 percent.
This caused England to convert to a third fecund supremacy, while Japan is fast fetching first-rank’ supremacy. Furthermore, the United States has in the last twenty years trialed all other industrialized nations in terms productivity growth. its productivity growth is about one percent yearly, and it has brought the arte of improvement in the nation`s standard of living to a virtual standstill, averaged annually at about 0.004 percent. A case at hand, the United States has lost much of its industrial headship position to Japan over the last thirty-nine years. Matejka (54) asserts that, once booming and seemingly untouchable United States industries like steel, machine tools, automobiles, and electronics have tumbled essentially to the verge by Japan`s extraordinary industrial progression. Japan`s productivity surpassed that of the United Sates since 50s and industry after industry, United states has lost its leadership of the world`s market share to Japan. A question that comes to one`s mind is why is Japan so successful? For instance in the automobile industry, Japan produces cars in fewer years of three and a half as compared to five years of the United States.
Moreover, in cases where Japanese took over American plants; Toyota in Kentucky, Kawasaki in Nebraska, and Sony inn California, they achieved productivity improvements similar to those accomplished in plants in Japan. This begins to point out that production management techniques applied by the Japanese play a big role in improving productivity, and thus they are not another passing fad for the mention of it. It has been found that Japanese use a multi-disciplined team of engineers, marketers, and production managers to design a product and the process involved. Such team remains intact during the production process to improve continuously both the product and process during the life of production. Japanese industries have produced lower cost, higher quality products; have dominated many strong United Sates markets as a result of this.
Studies have indicated for instance that, the number of repairs for every vehicle for the first twelve thousand miles of operation, Toyota had only an eighth of the repairs of American vehicles (Matejka 56). It was also found that Japanese inventory business ratios exceeded that of the United States in thirteen out of fifteen industries. This shows that there is something special about the Japanese management methods, which they employ in achieving great results with minimal costs. In view of this, many management techniques have emerged in the Japanese corporate world (Sasaki 65). For instance ringiseido, which is the basic philosophical concept concerning Japanese management, which gains ground on its fundamental process of making decisions through consensus.
Ringiseido forms an important aspect of Japanese culture that arises from Japan’s group alignment. This allows group members to participate in decision-making while observing and maintaining their respective hierarchical interactions. The ringi policymaking method involves application of ringiseido’ and most Japanese commerce, including regime establishments make choices based on accord; this is an settlement reached by all involved parties in a group`s choice creation (Sasaki 49). Studies reveal that consensus decision making is a vital element of Japanese business tradition, where Japanese regard workers in a holistic framework and individual`s contribution is viewed as of having secondary importance to a group`s harmony and conformity.
On the other hand, Japanese narugakae, which translates to total ma, is a concept that leads to total emotional participation in a group, since consensus and togetherness are valued contributors to group morale and harmony.
Essentially, decision-making philosophy emanates from the traditions of Japanese family system that base on authority that is highly concentrated in the head of the household. The head maintains harmony and consensus over his authority; this allows him to consult other household members before making important decisions. On top of these, the discussion will target the applicability of various techniques in Japan and globally, to affirm their benefit and importance in sustaining management in business beyond just a fad. As a matter of fact, the study was chosen to give a revelation of the Japanese management techniques and their importance in terms of business success and sustainability.
Just in-time practice
The first thing to begin with concerning Japanese management techniques is what is referred to as just in time production.’ This kind of system requires producing precisely the right units in the required quantities at the right time (Sasaki 62). Thus, a factory produces exactly what is required to assemble the final product; with just in time,’ the ideal lot sine is assumed one. Therefore, the process is set to flow from the raw materials through each terminal until it is a finished product. This sets the plant in a process flow and not functionally as compared to many other countries industries for instance, the United States. Each terminal receives the unfinished or works in process product and the necessary parts for that terminal at the same time.
This allows a worker at that station to complete his process, which requires several different functions, and he passes it to the next station for the process to continue to the end. The just in time’ production reduces inventory investment since workers produce only enough for the finished product. On the contrary case, the United States companies` functional work stations produce lot sizes termed just in case’ something went wrong (a schedule change). This is because United Sates companies require larger lot sizes in part since set up time (time to retool to make the next product) are too long. Furthermore American businesses use ideal economic order quantities that determine lot sizes based on set up times.
Just in-time practice and the jikoda conception
However, Japanese businesses reduce set up times to correctly optimize or minimize lot sizes, thus gaining ground through inventory reduction. The Japanese businesses viewed quality differently, where workers themselves are responsible for quality and check fort defects at every step in the process. This development conception is labeled jikoda (denoting stop when something goes wrong). In this regard, any Japanese worker can stop the entire process and a team would resolve the problem immediately before any more defective parts are produced (Sasaki 26). Essentially, just in time means all parts (including supplier delivered parts) are provided at the right time. This allows the Japanese to foster an enormous close-knit subcontractor network. This network is developed basing on long-term partnerships and trust. This relationship fits the just in time concept since the entire process depends on delivery of subcomponents at a preferred time. The just in time production concept increases productivity through maximization of inventory investment and thereby shorten product lead times. This leads to excellence enhancement and quicker response to request vicissitudes.
Principally, the just in time system comprises of many sub-concepts that can improve productivity performance of companies in other countries or environmental set up, and hence confirm the point that the techniques are not another passing fad but principles beneficial to everyone around and within organizations (Sasaki 53). First just in time Japanese production technique, manufacturing flexibility, has greatly contributed to Japanese productivity gains. It emphasizes on design for manufacturability and the integration of design and production leads to greater flexibility. Here, the worker is more flexible and the management designs jobs with more breadth (more skills for a job). Thus, Japanese easily adopts to change and by significantly reducing set-up times, Japanese are able to adjust their manufacturing process in as little as a tenth of the time United Sates counterparts do.
On the other hand, vertical integration is another concept and it works on the basis that for a just in-time system to function, manufacturing must get reliable suppliers. Japanese are experts in developing networks of subcontractors, for instance, Toyota purchases about seventy-nine percent of the value of sales from suppliers, compared to Ford and General motors that purchases less than fifty percent. Much of Japanese vertical integration has been achieved with less investment in its subcontractor physical plant. This gives the Japanese an advantage of vertical integration, which is reduced transaction costs, assured suppliers, and improved integration as well as coordination in production, inventory, and technology. This overcomes the disadvantage of heavy capital investment and reduced flexibility. This Japanese system of networking is ingrained in their infrastructure and culture.
Aggregate excellence administration
The total quality administration is another concept in line with the just in-time premier concept, which revolves around competitive benchmarking and customer service audits. This implies that quality beyond the plant itself, total quality management, which ensures the quality of the product progressively throughout its production, may help achieve great results. As such, Japanese productivity has kept on growing because the quality of the product is followed up beyond its production level to the customers (Nevan 40). Lastly, the other concept under just in time is the stockless production (Kanban) and it entails commitment for achieving zero lead times and zero inventory. This helps in keeping materials flow steadily through a fully integrated production process.
Stockless’ manufacture involves the lessening of set-up stretches and the method of incessant enhancement. At the end, productivity improves leading to profitability and flourishing of a company amid competition or other inhibiting factors. On top of this, Japanese management techniques go beyond production and extend to human resources, since without better ways of harnessing the power of human resources any good production management technique may fail terribly (Nevan 56).
Human resource’ methods
Further still, to affirm the point that Japanese management techniques are not a passing fad, the following discussion continues the revelation of how the techniques are rather beneficial in every way. As such, studies reveal that Japanese management of human resources is a function of its culture, and in Japan, most employees are hired for life. Here, college graduates choose a firm based on the location they wish to live, not the company or job, because most firms in Japan do not hire for a specific job since they require an adaptable individual. In essence, recruitments emphasize on personality and character As opposed to vocational or educational qualification. Basing on the management techniques, once a graduate is hired, an employee undergoes various job rotations while receiving considerable on the job training.
In this kind of set up major training programs are internal to the company and an average Japanese manager of a large organization works in about six different functional areas at the time he reaches forty years. This happens since at any point in time, a certain number of the top executives and about two thirds of managers and specialist get registered in an education program of some kind, training is constant throughout the carrier of Japanese managers. Through job rotation and training, general managers are born and these groups of people are better as compared to functional specialists. This process aims at developing seasoned managers for the posts of executive officers. In about three hundred firms, their respective executives stay for life in the companies.
Still on human resources, in Japan, salaries as well as promotion are based on seniority and merit, and promotions are strictly from within. Nevan (25) reveals that, interestingly, college graduates enter a company as a class and members of that class are endorsed into mid and upper management positions on merit basis. Such great production and human resources techniques that foster faster growth receive backing from better problem solving techniques that allow generation of good decisions (Sasaki 85). Thus, in review of the ringi system of making decisions, which is based on consensus management, it involves the cat of obtaining approval of a proposed matter through vertical and horizontal circulation of documents to concerned members of an organization. In this state, a middle-level manager prepares the document and circulates it in the company.
All appropriate departments agree to it by signing on the document. In this, middle management take the initiative of making proposals and decisions while senior management creates the environment for fostering cooperation in the organization. In essence, the ringi structure of administration allows many people, especially the junior administration groups to play a part in policymaking. This fosters group leadership and group decision making becomes the norm in an organization and increases productivity and general firm improvement for many years. In essence, through the continuous learning and improvement process, Japanese are always trying to improve the process (Nevan 52). This is because the constant learning of new skills makes them more adaptable should any change occur broader skills and high flexibility leads to great adaptability of the Japanese workers. This among other issues together contribute to the benefits attained by applying the Japanese management techniques, which keep confirming that the techniques are not just a passing fad but rather better ways of incorporating organizational management and workers in achieving better results for short term as well as long-term periods.
Consequently, to continue driving the point home concerning the importance of Japanese management techniques, some more discussions are required to unveil the relevance of the techniques in advancing objectives of any organization. Far from being over other Japanese techniques for management of organizations still prove that the techniques are not just any sort of principles but actual practical management techniques that can be applied in an organization anywhere in the world and achieve the required results (Dinero 25). One of the techniques that put much emphasis on the importance of Japanese management techniques is Keizen. Keizen is a very vital concept in quality management and the term is translated from Japanese to mean continuous improvement. In actual terms, Keizen’ is a dominant code of quality management within the approaches of total superiority administration as well as slender built-up.
It was originally developed and applied by Japanese industries in the 60s and it continuous as a successful philosophy where it stand as a practical aspect of the best Japanese corporations. In essence, Keizen is way of thinking, working, and behaving, as embedment in the philosophy and culture or values of an organization; where it is confirmed that establishments should be lived rather than being obligatory or endured at every level. Maurer (56) asserts that, a Keizen’ association targets at becoming lucrative, steady, defensible, and pioneering. It also targets at eradicating excess stretch of time’, resources,’ coinage,’ wealth,’ and determinations,’ and thereby snowballing efficiency. A Keizen organization aims at making incremental improvements to systems, processes and activities before problems occur as opposed to correcting the problems after they occur. Additionally, a Keizen organization creates a harmonious and dynamic organization that allows every employee to participate in the company`s activities as a valued person or individual. Keizen’ conception involves enlightening all that each person does in each feature of an association, in each section, every single minute of the day.
This calls for evolution and not revolution, which requires continuous making small percentages of improvements to many things. In addition, this is more effective, less disruptive and more sustainable than improving one thing by a hundred percent when it becomes unavoidable. The conception of Keizen’ affirms a viewpoint where each person in a progression, however inconsequential, has appreciated information and he contributes in a functioning group (Keizen’ group). At this point, every employee is permitted to partake fully in the enhancement procedure; taking charge, examining and synchronizing his or her own activities (Dinero 38). The management practice plays a big role by enabling and facilitating this through creation of a serene environment for employees. Thus, every employee is involved in the running of the company by being offered training and necessary information about the company he or she may have joined.
Through this, employees are encouraged to become committed and interested, leading to fulfillment and eventually job satisfaction. Keizen’ is a prudently cultivated thinking, which works efficiently and progressively by aiding in the placement of hard structural contributions and purposes, with soft administration subjects like enablement and enthusiasm. Thus, as it is, it is enough prove that Keizen as part of the great Japanese management techniques. It helps organizational build long-term skills and capabilities to achieve results for many years to come and as such, it is not any other kind of management technique but one that build an organization from the grassroots to create a culture of success (Maurer 45). When people see Keizen as a concept of empowering individuals and teams, and a practical way to improve quality and performance, it leads to mitigation of job boredom and unnecessary strikes since job satisfaction acts as the major reward. Therefore, Keizen together with the other discussed techniques have proved beyond doubt that Japanese techniques are not just a another passing fad but rather efficient and practical way of managing affairs of an organization right from the grassroots to the top organizational heads.
Quality groups system
Dinero (40) affirms that, quality group conception is another major theory or technique of Japanese management that finalizes this discussion by re-emphasizing on the importance of the techniques in improving organizations through increased productivity and revenue increase. A quality circle is one way of hands-on management practice, which conscripts the help of employees in solving company problems related to their own jobs. The circles comprise employees working together in an operation and they meet at intervals to discuss problems of quality and then devise solutions for improvements. Quality groups are usually minor and controlled by an administrator or a high-ranking worker.
Contributing workers normally obtain a prescribed problem-solving approaches, teaching like Pareto analysis’ and cause-and-effect diagrams,’ thereby heartened to put in practice such procedures to either precise or all-purpose structural glitches. After employees complete their scrutiny, they then present their discoveries to the administration and thereafter handle execution of permitted resolutions. Japanese emphasize on quality circles as way of preventing defects from arising in the first place as opposed to scrapping during postproduction assessment. Quality groups are used to curtail tussle and interruption that may result from part’ and merchandise flaws. In general, quality circles are helpful in reducing costs, improving productivity, and increase employee involvement in every company activities, including problem solving. Thus, like most of the discussed techniques, quality circles are effective in building a company culture where quality of production is given the first hand and employees take the forefront in ensuring this is achieved. Therefore, quality circles reaffirm that Japanese management techniques work in a practical way and thus not another passing fad.
From the above discussion, it clear that all the techniques highlighted prove beyond any reasonable doubt that they are not a passing fad but real and practical principles that have kept on helping business elites in Japan achieve great results. The theoretical principles behind these techniques indicate a power set of guidelines that have helped organizations create an environment that allows the involvement of all employees through empowerment and great motivational ways, over the years. For instance, it was found that ringiseido, a vital decision making principle encourages group working and decisions making through consensus, where an agreement has to be reached by all in an engaging way. It makes the structure or association to head for a similar course.
Quality circles encourage involvement through training of employees to solve issues, and Keizen concept involves everyone in making small changes or improvement to everything in a company. The just in time on the other hand, helps in creating reliable relations with sub-contractors for the purpose of increasing productivity. In essence, these techniques share the common concept of empowering employees by building on the corporate culture of collaboration for the common good of all and the organization. Thus, these management techniques are viable in establishing corporate culture for long-term l achievement.
Dinero, Donald. Training within Industry: The Foundation of. Productivity Press. 2005.
Matejka, Ken. “Japanese/American Management myths” Business Horizons 2005:54-59.
Maurer, Robert. The Spirit of Kaizen: Creating Lasting Excellence One Small Step at a Time. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. 2012. Print.
Nevan, Wright. Quality beyond Six Sigma. California: Elsevier, 2003.
Sasaki, Naoto. Management and industrial structure in Japan. London: Pergamum press oxford, 2006. Print.
Youngless, Jay. “Total Quality Misconception.” Quality in Manufacturing.2000.