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Shojinka is a management principle of making production more flexible to adapt to changing customer demand.


The Shojinka, 小人化, “Workforce flexibility”, is a management principle of making production flexible to easily adapt to changing customer demand.

The interest is obvious : to adjust to demand to avoid overproduction if demand falls or labor or additional resources are used if demand increases. The challenge is to be able to produce at the right, by following the Takt Time and without any change in the higher cost price.

1 – Raise the versatile teams

The first action is to increase the level of versatility of the staff. Toyota uses a system called ” Job Rotation »1, where each person rotates very regularly on different positions, so that he can do it spontaneously and without difficulty. This system is based on 3 phases :

  1. Each manager and supervisor turns on each of the positions and must prove his ability to work on each of them, as a regular worker (in Japanese culture, the hierarchy must be able to lead by example). 
  2. Each worker turns on each of the posts and is trained in each of them. 
  3. The last step is to be able to change positions without difficulty several times a day. 

This versatility will be simplified if :

  • Le niveau de standardization est important : standards are present and up to date.
  • Les training plans are up-to-date, monitored and continuously improved. These plans provide for the development of Lean 6 Sigma skills.
  • A Versatility Matrix  is in place and followed.

This technique has, moreover, the advantage of increasing the motivation and involvement of Staff.

2 – Flexible process design

Second axis of work to implement the Shojinka, flexibly design the equipment. We will use the precepts of process design of Just In Time.

This is when sales people and the various players in the supply chain play a leading role. They must have a sufficiently good and accurate knowledge of the customer and the market to estimate the variation in demand.

They must be trained in Just In Time and Heijunka, and understand their role in the implementation of these :

  • The commercial departments work with the production and the design office to define the specifications for new products and product developments. 
  • Commercial contracts (Quantity, Cost and Time) are negotiated with the participation and / or agreement of the production.
  • The Supply Chain ensures the leveling of production.
  • Sales people are working on increasing visibility and stability of demand rather than “selling” at any price ».


1 – Y. Monden (2012) – Toyota Production System : an integrated approach to Just In Time

J.P. Laurencin, M. Sonzogni (1999) – Choix de l’organisation du travail et dynamique des compétences dans l’entreprise

C. G. Ramos (2007) – Guia practica de economia de la empresa II

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