Continuous Improvement Firm (CIF)

Japanese-style Suggestion System





Japanese-style vs. American-style

According to the Japan Human Relations Association, the Japanese-style suggestion system stresses the morale boosting benefits of positive employee participation, while the American-style suggestion system stresses the suggestion's economic benefits and provides economic incentives.

In America,  a suggestion system is a cost savings tool where small ideas are not welcome, while the Japanese suggestion system has all employees involved in continuous improvement activities.


Competitive Advantage of Japanese and American Companies

Continuous Improvement Culture: Japan vs. the West

Kaizen Implementation

Fidelity Investment




7 Goals of the Japanese-style Suggestion System





① Making the job easier

② Removing drudgery from the job

③ Removing nuisance from the job

④ Making the job safer

⑤ Making the job more productive

⑥ Improving product quality

⑦ Saving time and cost




Three Key Benefits of Suggestion Systems

Suggestion systems are a valuable opportunity for worker self-development as well as for two-way communication in the workshop.





Suggestion systems:

① Make employees Kaizen-conscious

② Provide an opportunity for the workers to speak out with their supervisors as well as among themselves.

③ Provide an opportunity for management to help the workers deal with problems.




Main Subjects for Suggestions

In order of importance:

① Improvement in one's own work

② Savings in energy, material, and other resources

③ Improvement in the working environment

④ Improvements in machines and processes

⑤ Improvements in jigs and tools

⑥ Improvements in office work

⑦ Improvements in product quality

⑧ Ideas for new products

Customer services and customers relations

⑩ Others

According to the Japan Human Relations Association, most of the suggestions that have economic impact come from groups, while individual-based suggestions serve as morale boosters and educational experiences.


Suggestion System




Kaizen Mindset


Kaizen and Management

Kaizen Culture

8 Components

Total Quality Management (TQM)

Kaizen and TQM

Lean Manufacturing

Lean vs. Traditional




Three Stages of Suggestion Systems





1. Encouragement

In the first stage, management should make every effort to help the workers provide suggestions, no matter how primitive, for the betterment of the worker's job and the workshop. This will help the workers look at the way they are doing their jobs.




2. Education

In the second stage, management should stress employee education so that employees can provide better suggestions. In order for the workers to provide better suggestions, they should be equipped to analyze problems and the environment. This requires education.


Kaizen Practices

Toyota Way: 14 Principles

Lean Enterprise: 13 Tips




3. Efficiency

Only in the third stage, after the workers are both interested and educated, should management be concerned with the economic impact of the suggestions.

Warning! You'll encounter difficulties if you try to skip stages one and two and move straight to the third stage.