India’s industry level interactions with Japanese industry happened perhaps some time in early 80s. It allowed our professionals to learn the Japanese management styles and the tools they used in the management of their companies. Over the period, the tools have become very popular in Indian industry as means to improve the overall performance of the companies. Auto components sector is one such case. The sector has exported more than a billion dollar worth of auto components in 2003-2004, something unimaginable just few years ago. The education and training of the Japanese management tools still remain mostly exclusive to some industries only. Consultants, management schools and industrial organizations and institutions conduct short term courses for industrial workers and supervisory staffs. However, some of these Japanese management tools have universal application. Every working individual and a group including a housewife or a staff in your municipality or corporation can use it to solve his problems and improve the quality of life of his own and that of the society. A chapter or two on these Japanese management tools and their applications must be added in social science course in school final (class 10). Some more sophisticated ones such as new management tools may be part of class twelve courses throughout the country.
What are these management tools/techniques? 5S, TPM (Total Productive Maintenance), and Kaizen (incremental continuous improvement) are the most important ones.
“5S” relates to the role of housekeeping and the concept of ‘a place for everything and every thing in its place’. “5 S” gets its name from five Japanese words that cover the total activities of the strategy (Seiri – organising, seiton – neatness, seiso – cleaning, seiketsu – standardisation, and shitsuke – discipline). Is it not some thing which every housewife will love to know about a little more? Actually, she practices some without knowing that she is doing it.
TPM involves the user in the maintenance of his equipment and facility without depending totally on external agencies for that work. Here again every household uses a number of gadgets. With increasing consumerism, the number is growing. How many of them are being used effectively? How many times you find them needing repair when you have gone to use them? One of my friend recently complained that his refrigerator ditched him, when he was expecting the prospective father-in-law of his son. He had to buy one in hurry. TPM eliminates this unreliability.
Kaizen is a method to bring about improvements in everything we do in incremental manner. It is based on the belief that every one has some creativity and can contribute. As against innovation, Kaizen is less spectacular, but more effective. All of the working population is expected to participate in continuous improvement. It may be the quality of the product or processes, its cost, its delivery time, or customer satisfaction. Smallest or the biggest-all businesses can improve its competitiveness with kaizen at work.
Seven* management tools are used extensively in the management of any enterprise. One requires data recording and use of some simple mathematics and graphs for reaching at conclusion. Now, an additional set of 7 new** management tools are in use. Working philosophy is also unique while using these tools in some respects. Idea is to promote team working, in which we Indians have been named by experts as poorer. Brain storming is extensively used during application of the management tools to find possible solution of the problem or improvement.
These tools are equally applicable and useful at home and in all types of professional activities in the enterprises involved in different fields. One of the fads these days is to get an ISO certification. Even good public schools are striving to get the certification. All these years I found new boys and girls come to work with good education. But they lack the basic inter-personal skills and temperament of team working and problem solving. I am of an opinion that some of these things can be included in the courses at school level. They can start creatively contributing in attaining the mission of their enterprises without much specialized training. Simple illustrated text materials can be prepared by professionals to suit school level standard. I am sure it will help in building a better quality of life for a larger group of population. As mostly, the average education level of workforce is school final and twelve plus, the knowledge of these tools and techniques will be of great help for the new entrant in any organization or enterprise. Its inclusion will no way burden the student, as it is practice-based and real life subject.
b. **Affinity Diagram, Interrelationship Diagraph, Tree Diagram, Prioritisation matrices, activity Network Diagram, Process Decision Program Chart, Matrix Diagram
c. The icon supporting this post is the word “kaizen” in japanese I am told. I sure hope they’re right