Business Processes



Japanese-style Suggestion System

Three Stages and Main Subjects



By:  Japan Human Relations Association


Suggestion Systems: American-style vs. Japanese-style

The American-style suggestion system stresses the suggestion's economic benefits and provides economic incentives.


The Japanese-style Kaizen-based suggestion system stresses the morale boosting benefits of positive employee participation.

Three Stages of the Suggestion System

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.

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.

Kaizen Strategy: 7 Conditions for Successful Implementation

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

  9. 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.

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.

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