Mini Company and Kaizen

Topics: Innovation, Management, Quality management Pages: 19 (6330 words) Published: August 6, 2011
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at http://www.emerald-library.com

IJOPM 19,11

Continuous improvement and the mini-company concept
Jan de Leede and Jan Kees Looise
University of Twente, The Netherlands
Keywords Continuous improvement, Teamwork, Organizational design, Case studies, Kaizen Abstract The key issue of continuous improvement (CI) seems to be the problem of combining extensive employee involvement with market orientation and continuation of CI. In this article we review some existing organisational designs for CI on these three essential characteristics of CI. As an alternative to the shortcomings of current organisational designs for CI we present the mini-company concept, related to the sociotechnical concept of the self-managing team. The minicompany concept incorporates the three key issues: it has a self-propelling capacity for CI, involving everyone on the shop floor. A constant and market-oriented source for improvement is found in the clients and suppliers of the mini-company. Results of an in-depth case-study are presented, showing some strong effects of the mini-company concept.

1188

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 19 No. 11, 1999, pp. 1188-1202. # MCB University Press, 0144-3577

Introduction Continuous improvement (CI) is viewed as vital in today's business environments. CI is one of the core strategies towards manufacturing excellence, as it appears, for example, within the context of ``world-class manufacturing'' (Schonberger, 1986; Schonberger, 1996) or ``total quality management'' (Hackman and Wageman, 1995). Furthermore, CI as a concept is nothing difficult to understand or new. Bessant and Caffyn (1997) define the concept as an organisation-wide `` process of focused and sustained incremental innovation Many tools and ''. techniques are developed to support these processes of incremental innovation. However, the difficulty lies within the consistent application of the CI-philosophy and the CI-tools and -techniques. As an organisation-wide process, CI requires the efforts of employees on all levels. Here, the CI-approach can be linked with long established traditions of employee involvement and employee participation. This line of research showed that the involvement of employees is not just a matter of the application of tools and techniques alone (among many others: Cotton (1993)). Other organisational elements such as organisational frameworks, leadership and management styles, culture, employee needs, values and norms are needed as well. Only an integrated approach will lead to lasting results. The key problem of CI seems to be the issue of employee involvement (Bessant and Caffyn, 1997; Berger, 1997). How to involve the employees of all levels in the process of market-oriented continuous improvement? What motivational aspects have to be taken into account in making CI a lasting routine? It is our statement that existing organisational frameworks do not address this issue to a satisfying extent. In spite of the recognition of the ``people orientation'' of kaizen (Imai, 1986) and the ``broad participation'' and ``high involvement'' of CI (Bessant and Caffyn, 1997; Berger, 1997), CI still needs thorough elaboration on organisational designs in which these aspects are realised. Especially, the problem is how to direct the CI activities to customer

requirements and business strategy, while maintaining true employee involvement. In this article we want to contribute to this issue. We focus on the organisational aspects of employee involvement in CI. Therefore, the focus of this article is the shop floor. We present a concept that is derived from sociotechnical systems theory but is enriched by principles from Shop Floor Management (Suzaki, 1993). This concept is called ``the mini-company''. The most important characteristic of the mini-company concept is the integration of the customer in operations. An...

References: Adler, P. and Cole, R.E. (1993), ``Designed for learning: a tale of two autoplants ' ', Sloan Management Review, Spring, pp. 85-94. Bailey, D.E. (1997), ``Manufacturing improvement team programs in the semiconductor industry ' ', IEEE Transactions on semiconductor manufacturing, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 1-10. Berger, A. (1997), ``Continuous improvement and kaizen: standardization and organizational designs ' ', Integrated Manufacturing Systems, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 110-17. Berggren, C. (1994), ``NUMMI vs. Uddevalla ' ', Sloan Management Review, Winter, pp. 37-45. Bessant, J. and Caffyn, S. (1997), ``High-involvement innovation through continuous improvement ' ', Int. J. Technology Management, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 7-28. Cotton, J.L. (1993), Employee Involvement. Methods For Improving Performance and Work Attitudes, Sage Publications, Newbury Park, CA. Fukuda, R. (1989), CEDAC. A Tool for Continuous Systematic Improvement, Productivity Press, Cambridge, MA. Hackman, J.R. and Wageman, R. (1995), ``Total quality management: empirical, conceptual, and practical issues ' ', Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 40, June, pp. 309-42. Haren, T.H.C. van (1984), Power in Organisations, PhD thesis, University of Utrecht, Utrecht (in Dutch). Imai, M. (1986), Kaizen. The Key to Japan 's Competitive Success, Random House, New York, NY. Leede, J. de (1997), Bottom-up Innovation; on the Contribution of Semi-autonomous Groups in Product and Process Innovation, PhD thesis University of Twente, Kluwer Bedrijfsinformatie, Deventer (in Dutch).
Mini-company concept
1201
IJOPM 19,11
1202
Lindberg, P. and Berger, A. (1997), ``Continuous improvement: design, organization and management ' ', International Journal of Technology Management, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 86-101. Looise, J.C. (1996), Social Innovation is a Must, but How?, oration University of Twente, Enschede (in Dutch). Oostrum, J.G.M.P. van (1989), Power and Control in Organisations in an Uncertainty-reduction Perspective: an Experimental Approach, PhD thesis University of Utrecht (in Dutch). Pelz, D.C. and Andrews, F.M. (1966), Scientists in Organizations; Productive Climates for Research and Development, Wiley, New York, NY. Schonberger, R.J. (1986), World Class Manufacturing: The Lessons of Simplicity Applied, The Free Press, New York, NY. Schonberger, R.J. (1996), World Class Manufacturing: The Next Decade: Building Power, Strength, and Value, The Free Press, New York, NY. Sitter, L.U. de, Hertog, J.F. den, and Dankbaar, B. (1997), ``From complex organizations with simple jobs to simple organizations with complex jobs ' ', Human Relations, Vol. 50 No. 5, pp. 497-534. Suzaki, K. (1993), The New Shop Floor Management; Empowering People for Continuous Improvement, The Free Press, New York, NY. Tannenbaum, A.S. (1968), Control in Organizations, McGraw-Hill, New York, NY. Trist, E.L. (1981), ``The sociotechnical perspective; the evolution of sociotechnical systems as a conceptual framework and as an action research program ' ', in Ven, A.H. van de, and Joyce, W.F., Perspectives on Organization Design and Behavior, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, pp. 19-75. Verkerk, M.J., Leede, J. de, and Tas, H.J. van der (1997), Market-oriented Production Management; from Semi-autonomous Group to Mini-company, Kluwer Bedrijfsinformatie, Deventer (in Dutch).
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Kaizen Essay
  • Kaizen Essay
  • kaizen Essay
  • Kaizen Essay
  • Essay on Kaizen
  • Kaizen Essay
  • Kaizen Essay
  • Essay on Kaizen

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free