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So today I am all work. I attended a training a few weeks back on how to develop a classy company. The training was about 20keys developed by one Japanese professor, these keys are most likely to help you develop a very successful business. Enjoy

'20 Keys' were created by Iwao Kobayashi who is a Chairman of PDI (PPORF Development Institute Inc.) in Japan. He describes 20 ‘Keys’ that are crucial to develop a world class company. The keys cover 5S, quick changeover, scheduling, reducing inventory, maintenance, skill building activities, eliminating waste, value analysis, empowering workers, quality, developing supplier, etc. Each key  is further divided into five levels from novice to "world class" status. 

Iwao Kobayashi, in 1988 published a book explaining 20 keys to workplace improvement. They all must be considered in order to achieve continuous improvement. These 20 keys are arranged in a circle  that shows the relations between the keys and their influence on the three main factors explained previously: quality, cost, and lead time.

The arrangement in the circle is not categorical, and some keys offer benefits in more than one factor. There are four keys outside the circle. Three of them (keys 1, 2, and 3) must be implemented before the rest, and key 20 is the result of implementing the other 19 keys.

What does 20 Keys stand for?

20 focus areas that will help your organisation to build a holistic, sustainable continuous improvement culture.
Its main aims are:
  • BETTER – Quality Improvement through defect prevention
  • FASTER – Lead Time Improvement through lean manufacturing and processing
  • CHEAPER – Cost Optimisation through productivity improvement and waste reduction
Prof. Iwao Kobayashi did extensive research on, and personally experienced, the rise to world class of numerous Japanese companies. During this research he discovered 20 critical focus areas for a company ’s sustainable and holistic development. These 20 focus areas became the 20 Keys 



Key 1: Cleaning and Organizing
Key 2: Rationalizing the System/MBOs
Key 3: Improvement Team Activities
Key 4: Reducing Inventory
         (Shortening Lead Times)
Key 5: Quick Changeover Technology
Key 6: Manufacturing Value Analysis
         (Methods Improvement)
Key 7: Zero Monitor Manufacturing
Key 8: Coupled Manufacturing
Key 9: Maintaining Equipment
Key 10: Time Control and Commitment
Key 11: Quality Assurance System
Key 12: Developing Your Suppliers
Key 13: Eliminating Waste (Treasure Map)
Key 14: Empowering Workers to Make Improvements
Key 15: Skill Versatility and Cross Training
Key 16: Production Scheduling
Key 17: Efficiency Control
Key 18: Using Information Systems
Key 19: Conserving Energy and Materials
Key 20: Leading Technology and Site Technology


Kobayashi divided each key into five levels and set some criteria to rise from one level to the next. The first step in the methodology consists of specifying the actual company’s current level and then the required level. After figuring out the current level of the company.

Kobayashi offers the steps the company must use to reach the final level gradually rather than attempting to reach the top directly. On the other hand, to show the evolution of the factory, Kobayashi presents a radar graphic in which the scoring of each key is represented. Kobayashi recommends improving all the keys equally. Because of this recommendation, in the radar graphic, the factory’s scoring will grow concentrically.