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Built-in Quality and Craft Beer Brewing

Updated: Sep 13, 2023


magazine cover featuring Brewdog and Built in Quality

Here we are, working hard for you at the intersection of lean & craft beer. It’s a rough job but, that’s right, we stepped up to the plate.


Those who follow us on LinkedIn will know that we’ve an occasional taste for craft beer. In fact, every couple of months a globally sourced mix of beers nestles on the Sempai doorstep ready for appreciation. Whilst reading the accompanying magazine from a recent case (shown in the picture heading this blog), we spotted an opportunity to elaborate on Built in Quality in lean manufacturing.


What is Built in Quality (Jidoka)


Built in Quality is a deeply misunderstood Toyota Production System (TPS) pillar cheapened by the Western world’s insistence on tritely summarising it as “Quality is everyone’s responsibility”.


Whether it's a manufactured product or you’re in the business of building apps, Quality secures our customers into the future. Price is just a ticket to the game.


In general, we're well past the days of “Inspect in Quality”where everyone at the front end of the process just ploughs on and relies on some poor soul at the end to inspect everything, catch all the problems, and protect the customer. There isn’t a person skilled enough or a machine smart enough to be this all singing, all dancing firewall.


Most companies recognise the costs and flaws in this approach now and have moved to some kind of “Built in Quality” thinking.


But, and here’s the kicker, “Built in Quality” thinking alone won't get you to anywhere near the top of your market. The reason? there’s a weakness in the way “Built in Quality” has been sold (or mis-sold) inside and outside of manufacturing.


The problem stems from the call-and-response-style answer to the question:


‘Who owns Quality?’


Generally, a chorus of ‘We all do!’ is the response.Unfortunately, it’s a lazy answer. The sentiment is fine but if we all own Quality, well, nobody does. It’s a recipe for things to fall between the gaps with cries of ‘I thought he/she was doing that bit’


Brewing & Quality Assurance


Brewdog is building a formidable craft beer business and clearly understands Quality Assurance more deeply than some of our industrial giants. The truth is that Built in Quality or, more deeply, Jikoutei Kanketsu (JKK) (self process completion, Built in Quality with Ownership) is about:


Certain drawing transfer

In dull technical speak…translating your design intent through certain drawing transfer into mass production via strong process control


also known as...


You get what you wanted

In English…making sure that what you intended your product/service to turn out like, happens, by building a process where Quality is assured at source because you thought hard about what you had to control to stop stuff going wrong at each stage.


Physical Assurance & Human Assurance


Back to Brewdog's James Watt and his 10 beer “taster training exam” described in the photo below: This is part and parcel of understanding that trying to Physically Assure (error-proof / poka-yoke) everything is an expensive, technically flawed, fool's errand.


Creating an overlapping, integrated Human Assurance (the skilled person) and Physical Assurance network of error prevention, error spotting, defect prevention & flow-out prevention is pretty powerful.


a snippet from a magazine explaining how to find taste defects in beer

Quality Sensitivity


Brewdog are showing a conscious effort to invest in the skills of their people so that they understand the standard and can sense deviation away from it. This is a part of Human Assurance, doubtless backed up by some fancy process control kit within the brewing process. 


In a nutshell, whether you produce beer, bicycles or big data, it's about developing Quality Sensitivity & Quality Mind in your people. This creates the skill and desire to locate abnormalities (that may lead to defects) and defects themselves rather than expecting someone or something to catch the bad ones at the end of the process. Ownership, you might say.


We’ve done a lot of work on this over the years and are grateful for our 15 years working with Toyota Group clients in terms of understanding how to simply & practically Build in Quality at source. See the case study below to understand how you make a huge step change in the Quality Performance of your manufacturing business

On a lighter note, all of this reminded us of this comedic milk-tasting contest scene in one of our favourite cult movies “Napoleon Dynamite”. In spite of his many socially awkward challenges, Napoleon clearly has a Quality Sensitivity when it comes to dairy products. It seems he's lactose defect intolerant.

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