What is Hitozukuri and Why is it “Working on the 5%”?
W. Edwards Deming strongly emphasised the importance of the system – the way the work works – in determining the performance of individuals. According to Deming, 95% of an individual’s performance is dictated by the system they are working in, not their personal abilities. This statistic demonstrates Deming’s belief in the profound impact of the environment or system on individual and organisational outcomes.
This belief intersects strongly with both the philosophy of Hitozukuri and systems thinking. Hitozukuri is about nurturing employees, and Deming’s principles make it clear that a key part of nurturing employees is providing them with a supportive, well-structured system in which to work.
By understanding and improving the system, an organisation will greatly enhance the effectiveness of its Hitozukuri practices.
Systems thinking adds another layer to this perspective, emphasising the interconnections among various elements within the organisation, including people. Every part of the organisation, from the people to the way the work works, contributes to the overall result. So, improving the system means enhancing all its components and the relationships among them.
From this perspective, Hitozukuri can be seen as part of a broader, interconnected system within an organisation. It includes various processes such as recruitment, training, job design, performance management, and more. When these processes are well designed and coordinated, they create a system that effectively nurtures employees, thus enhancing their performance.
In such a system, well-developed employees lead to better products/services, which lead to higher customer satisfaction, which in turn brings business success and the resources to further invest in employee development.
However, it’s crucial to recognise that, as per Deming’s principles, the primary driver of this cycle is not the individual abilities of the employees, but the quality of the system in which they work.
Thus, organisations might choose to focus not only on developing individuals (as in Hitozukuri) but also on continually improving the system that dictates 95% of their performance. By doing so, they can create a virtuous cycle of human resource development and organisational success.
Ballé, M., Powell, D., & Yokozawa, K. (2019, January 8). Monozukuri, Hitozukuri, Kotozukuri. Planet Lean. https://planet-lean.com/monozukuri-hitozukuri-kotozukuri/“