What is Jiko Kanri?

Jiko Kanri literally means "self managing" in Japanese. It is an approach to production and product management, taken from the Kanban card-based workflow management system (part of the "Toyota Way" of production management). Jiko Kanri is a philosophy which prioritizes quality via the autonomy of motivated contributors. It can be an effective approach for software development, technical operations, creative groups and other forms of skilled production, as well as for support or maintenance teams. The goal of Jiko Kanri is to provide an infrastructure and context so that skilled employees can "self manage" their work while still providing transparency and accountability to managers. It relies on a set of cultural principles and norms for workers and managers. Jiko Kanri is just a system for organizing work and setting expectations about how it is to be done. It doesn't set business goals. It is not a product or market strategy. It is not always the best way to manage a project or business, but where it applies, it organizes workers with minimum overhead to produce maximal quality at an optimal efficiency.

The Principles of Jiko Kanri

Duties of the Manager

  • Set Priority
  • Measure Flow
  • Provide Context
  • Maintain Transparency
  • Reduce Ambiguity

Duties of the Worker

  • Work Tasks in Priority Order
  • Honestly Estimate Capacity
  • Report Risks
  • Maintain Transparency
  • Care About Quality

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