Monday, November 10, 2014

Building Quality into the Process

By Pascal Dennis

Jidoka is lovely Japanese word with multiple meanings:
  • Automation with a human touch,
  • Humanized or intelligent automation

Essentially, Jidoka entails giving processes, automated and otherwise, sufficient ‘awareness’ so they can:
  • Detect process malfunctions or product defects
  • Stop, and
  • Alert the operator

Perhaps the simplest definition is ‘to build quality into process using embedded, binary tests’.

We had a charming example in our home this week. Our nine-year-old, Matthew, is shooting up like a bean sprout which means frequent checks on the ‘clothing situation’.

As far as I can tell, the process steps include:
  1. Put questionable trousers, shirts and sweaters on top of Matthew’s bed,
  2. Matthew tries on each piece, and
  3. We keep or discard said piece based on a series of tests.

Here are the tests my wife & Matthew have devised for shirts and sweaters:
  1. Can Matthew get it over his noggin?
  2. Do the sleeves come up above the wrist?
  3. When he raises his arms, can you see his belly button?

These are applied in sequence, of course. You’ll notice they are binary and therefore, self-diagnostic.

The process is very effective – I’d estimate the first time through (FTT) is 100%. It also generates big laughs for the whole family.

Especially ridiculous fits trigger a droll Matthew parade. “Hey everyone, look at this one!”

Best regards,


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