Jidoka means “automation with a human touch.”
The term Jidoka was originally coined by Taiichi Ohno, who is credited with the establishment of the Toyota Production System.
The idea behind Jidoka is that machines should not be allowed to make mistakes because they are too expensive and time-consuming to fix. Instead, people should be able to catch errors as soon as possible so that these mistakes can be corrected before they cause any damage in the production process. This way, machinery stays productive and workers stay safe.
Lean is built on two fundamental principles: Jidoka and Just In Time.
The idea of Jidoka can be translated as “automation with a human touch” referring to the central idea within the Toyota Production System that the machine must stop immediately as soon as any error or defect is detected.
And when we discuss the 5th Lean Principle, this means we have to “Stop and Fix”.
Lean is about stopping and fixing issues when they go wrong: quickly and consistently, every time.
At the heart of the Lean is the concept that if you spot an issue – stop and fix it. Letting an issue move forward without fixing will have a serious impact further down the process.
By not fixing the problem as soon as it is identified increases the costs of fixing it later. It potentially allows the problem to get to the customer and kills causing even more damage to the business. And really importantly, in a culture of continuous improvement, we want to learn fast.
If the issue is not addressed immediately, we miss the opportunity to learn (kaizen) and when we finally do get around to fixing the issue, we might find we don’t just have one product that has failed but multiple products.
Taken to the extreme, in Toyota, the idea is that anyone could stop the car manufacturing line if they located a problem. In reality, it’s slightly different than this, but the concept sticks.
If you find an issue, stop, fix it and feed it back quickly and begin the kaizen approach to finding the right long term solutions. This links directly into Principle 14 – Creating the learning organisation.
We all learn by fast feedback, so try this and get back to the business of delivering better quality next time the task is done.
Jidoka is one of the key pillars of the Toyota Production System and the House of Lean. The other is the concept of JIT or Just in Time.
Basically, the whole principle of doing anything within Lean is one to do it when the customer wants it and not before and deliver exactly what the customer wants. The second pillar is always to ensure that everything we do is done the right first time and meets the quality requirements of the customer.
When you can deliver what the customer wants without errors then you will become the customers choice and that customer experience will be your strategic advantage.