One of the real strengths of the Japanese is a tendency to standardise and simplify wherever possible.
Faced with an ever increasing number of management tools and approaches to the management process, JUSE (the Japanese Institute of Scientists and Engineers) undertook a long term project to evaluate which tools were bringing benefits in practice, and to reduce these down into a standard set which could be used anywhere.
This work concluded after a number of years research in what is known as the Seven Management and Planning Tools. Seven simple tools which address practically all management and decision making situations, and which can be learnt quickly and applied in teams. The result is both simple and profound. Simple in terms of the mechanics – profound in terms of the insights that can be developed from them.
Two of the tools are matrices (one for looking at interactions, the other for prioritising) which have been combined to form the QFD (Quality Function Deployment) approach covered in the section on Philosophy. The other five are:
- Affinity Diagram – for drawing out people’s ideas on a topic and then grouping them so that they can be prioritised
- Interrelationship Digraph – for exploring the links and causality between events and other relevant entities
- Process Decision Programme Chart – for breaking down decisions and tasks into component elements
- Tree Diagram – for breaking down situations into their relevant components while keeping an overview of the whole
- Activity Network Diagram – for mapping out the dependencies in what is required to deliver an end result
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