Applying the Autonomation Concept to White-Collar Departments at Toyota Motors: The Basics of JKK (Ji Koutei Kanketsu)

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Manabe, Seiji


Gerpisa colloquium, Kyoto (2014)


Toyota Motors Corp. (hereafter referred to as “Toyota”) is widely known for its international competitive advantage. In particular, its Toyota Production System (TPS) has been studied globally and the essence of TPS has become popular overseas as lean production. TPS is based on two concepts: Just in Time (JIT) and Autonomation/Jidouka. JIT means delivering the right amount at just the right time, and autonomation means quality assurance that does not rely on inspection, as per the famous Toyota saying, “Quality is built into the process.” The autonomation concept originated from the development of the Toyoda Type-G automatic loom in 1924, which would automatically stop once the thread was cut during production. In essence, it embodied a process of stopping the work in-process to clarify the problem, and to improve the quality.
Toyota has systematically expanded the practice of autonomation to all departments of the company since 2007. However, the practice of autonomation at production sites could not be applied in its original form directly to white-collar departments. The reason for the difficulty in applying autonomation to white-collar departments is that white-collar managers deal primarily with invisible information whereas in plants the workers deal primarily with visible objects.
Toyota calls the practice of autonomation in white-collar departments, Ji Koutei-Kanketsu (Own Process Completion. or JKK). JKK means that each and every employee considers the subsequent process step (the immediate “customer”) first and foremost and never produces a defective product. If defective output is accidently produced, it must not be sent on to the subsequent process step (“customer”). For this to happen, employees must possess a sense of ownership toward their work, and take the initiative to ensure the completion of the defect-free process. This denotes a sense of pride and responsibility in one’s own work, without blaming others for a failure, to improve and complete one’s own tasks.
In order to ensure a defect-free process, an employee needs to be able to determine the quality of his or her own work. JKK is an organizational routine where the employee in charge of a work process is expected to determine the quality of the output of the process based on his or her proper decision making, rather than relying on a third-party evaluation such as inspection by a supervisor or subsequent process steps (“customers”).
The main purpose of this paper is to logically describe the idea and implementation of JKK based on documents provided by Toyota and the results of interview and surveys. Next, the paper presentation considers the prerequisites for establishing JKK in an organization and the effects of JKK are explored, to clarify the relationship between these concepts.

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