Do the Japanese always do it better?

I was amused to see that UIE is recommending the KJ Technique. This is a powerful approach and one you should explore. UIE is a great authority on Usability and what they say is always of interest.

I’ve used the technique they recommend many times and it really works. It’s very good for getting into tough questions of company strategy. Particularly if you have a domineering boss and his somewhat hesitant team, this technique allows ideas to surface without anyone having to be seen as a trouble-maker. Often the front-line troops meeting the customers face-to-face know much more of the realities of the company’s successes or failures than the top brass on the 42nd Floor of the Head Office.

The reason for my amusement is the name this US-based group used: the KJ-Technique. They explain the name by stating that it was named for its inventor, Jiro Kawakita. Apparently in Japanese, it is usual to put the last name initial first.

Why amusing? Well I’ve been using it for years and calling it the Crawford Slip technique. I believe Crawford was a Professor in California in the 1920’s. Here is a link to give you more information on the Crawford Slip. As they say, a prophet is not honoured in his own country. It sounds as though Jiro Kawakita is doing for the USA what Deming did in the reverse direction for the Japanese with Quality in 1950. In fact, the KJ / Crawford Slip technique can have even more profound effects on the success of a company than all that Deming did, even though Quality is very important.