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The Jishuken is a way to promote continuous improvement towards the company and its suppliers..


In the 1960s, under the leadership of Taiichi Ohno, was created the Seisan Chosa Shitsu, which means ” Operations Management Consulting Division” .

At the root of government attacks: these were business groups. Each parts manufacturing company on the other hand to protect themselves. Seisan Chosa Shitsu,

Initially, it is an internal structure of consultants, in charge of solving the problems between Toyota and its suppliers. More generally, they need to discuss the naturedes Muda and how to identify them.

The term Jishuken (自主研), which translates as “autonomous study group, came only later, in 1977. Toyota wishing to develop its method at its suppliers and better involve them, created these groups of work. The idea is to organize exchanges without competition issues, but to improve and share knowledge.

The organization of the Jishuken

Chez Toyota, le Seisan Chosa Shitsu  is composed of about 60 people 5 to 6 Shusa (主査), « lead investigator », and a little over 50 consultants. They are all specialists in the Toyota Production System.

Each Shusa is in charge of 2 Toyota production sites and a dozen suppliers chosen according to the following criteria :

  • Geographical proximity. 
  • Similar production process. 
  • No competitor to allow free discussion.
  • Represents about 80% of purchase costs. 
  • To keep a good momentum, groups are changed every 3 years.


Each year, the Jishuken group (several dozens of people, each supplier can delegate 5 people) meets to determine the different topics / processes that will be handled and the associated schedules.

A project follows a standardized 4-step process and typically lasts 3 to 4 months: diagnosis, implementation, control and adjustment, and evaluation. The consultant of Seisan Chosa Shitsu is then a free supporter to help the smooth running of the project, and goes to the supplier every week. 

The entire Jishuken also regularly visits each supplier. This is the opportunity to diagnose the situation and propose improvements. Each plays a role of consultant ».

Each year, a meeting between all groups is held to discuss the activities of the year and share good practices.

The Jishuken of today

They are found all over the world in different forms : supplier development1Kaizen Events2Kaikaku3 or also Benchmark. This method of sharing is at the origin of Lean projects and aims to structure and deploy continuous improvement methods internally and externally.


1 – McNichols (1998) – Human side of enterprise

2 – F. Montabon (1997) – Kaizen Blitz

3 – Bicheno (2000) – The Lean Toolbox

M. Baudin (2004) – Lean Logistics

S. Lechevalier (2005) – Toyota peut il sauver le Japon (et le reste du monde) ?

M. Sako (1998) – Supplier development at Honda

J. DeLong (2011) – Beyond the TPS Tools

J. K. Liker (2009) – Le modèle Toyota

J. H. Dyer (2000)  – Collaborative advantage

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