Japanese Jargon

This is the fifth post in a series of short blog posts focusing on data quality related to different countries around the world. I am not aiming at presenting a single version of the full truth but rather presenting a few random observations that I hope someone living in or with knowledge about the country are able to clarify in a comment.

Home of quality philosophy

Japan is the home and inspiration of quality thinking. Therefore we also have some Japanese words used when talking quality. For example kaizen is used for continuous quality improvement, muda is the waste we should avoid and gemba is the real place where things happens and things could be changed.

Streets with no names

When sending letters to Japan the way of addressing is different from how it is done in most other parts of the world. Street names are seldom used in Japanese postal addresses, but the numbers/names of the blocks between the streets are used.

Would you like Kanji, Hiragana, Katakana or Romaji?

No, this is not a selection from the a la carte menu at a Japanese restaurant but different kind of writing systems to choose from in Japan covering three different kinds of script systems. Kanji is the old symbolic writing system similar to Chinese writing. Hiragana and Katakana are syllabic writing systems while Romaji is transcription of Japanese into Roman alphabetic letters.  

Previous Data Quality World Tour blog posts:

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The Value of Used Data

Motivated by a comment from Larry Dubov on the Data Quality ROI page on this blog I looked up the term Information Economics on Wikipedia.

When discussing information quality a frequent subject is if we can compare quality in manufacturing (and the related methodology) with information and data quality. The predominant argument against this comparison is that raw data can be reused multiple times while raw materials can’t.

Information Economics circles around that difference as well.

The value of data is very much dependent on how the data is being used and in many cases the value increases with the times the data is being used.

Data quality will probably increase with multiple uses as the accuracy and timeliness is probed with each use, a new conformity requirement may be discovered and the completeness may be expanded.

The usefulness of data (as information) may also be increased by each new use as new relations to other pieces of data are recorded.

In my eyes the value of (used) data is very much relying on how well you are able to capture the feedback from how data is used in business processes. This is actually the same approach as in continuous quality improvement (Kaizen) in manufacturing, only here the improvement is only good for the next goods to be produced. In data management we have the chance to improve the quality and value of already used data.    

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The Toyota Way

Yesterday I visited a Toyota branch office.

While waiting in the unmanned reception (a result of removing waste, known as muda in Japanese, I guess) I had the chance to study the five posters hanging there with the main principles in The Toyota Way:

  • Challenge: Form a long-term vision and meet challenges with courage and creativity.
  • Kaizen (continuous improvement): Improve business operations continuously, always driving for innovation and evolution.
  • Genchi Genbutsu (go and see): Go to the source to find the facts to make correct decisions, build consensus and achieve goals at best speed.
  • Respect: Respect others. Make every effort to understand each other, take responsibility and do your best to build mutual trust.
  • Teamwork: Stimulate personal and professional growth, share the opportunities of development and maximize individual and team performance.

What a great way to prepare for a meeting about data quality improvement.

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