Kaizen is a Japanese business concept or methodology of continuous improvement of personal efficiency and working practices that is at the core of modern quality management and lean manufacturing processes. It’s not surprising therefore that the word Kaizen, which is Japanese translates to continuous improvement.
There is a good reason why Kaizen forms an integral part of Total Quality Management methodology and lean manufacturing and we’ll examine it here.
Where did Kaizen come from?
Kaizen was first implemented by Japanese manufacturers back in the 1950’s and 60’s with many of today’s top Japanese corporations using the concepts and methodologies including Toyota, one of the most widely recognisable manufacturing companies in the world. It became so widely accepted that even a number of Western companies began using Kaizen concepts within their own organisations.
It is a powerful tool that any company, not just a manufacturing business can find substantial benefits from following many of concepts and methodologies that are a part of Kaizen.
What is behind the philosophy of continuous improvement?
What makes Kaizen so powerful is that to be truly effective, everyone in an organisation has to buy into everything for it to be effective. It has to be allowed to permeate every level of the company and become a mindset and embed itself in all the processes and decisions that will be made. The company as a whole has to embrace it and allow it to become a company philosophy for it to truly work as originally intended.
The four key company goals
There are four key goals for any company who adopt this philosophy of improvement:
- Profitability, building a sustainable business, being innovative and stable over the long term.
- To increase productivity through the reduction or elimination of wasted time, materials and motion.
- To make systematic and incremental changes to systems and processes before they can become a major problem.
- Create an organisation that works in perfect harmony and that shows that it values each and every member of the organisation.
How is Kaizen implemented?
Depending on the industry that your company operates in will more than likely dictate whether your organisation would best be served by following the Total Quality Management or Lean Manufacturing concepts of Kaizen. Either one will do basically the same thing for any business that is looking for ways to improve itself.
The key concepts
To be effective Kaizen has to be an all or nothing proposition among all employees and it consists of several key concepts:
- Everyone, top to bottom has to accept that the improvements are being made for the betterment of the company as a whole.
- No need to revolutionise the business, it is better and more sustainable to evolve the business through smaller, incremental changes to a number of areas.
- Everyone in the specific area has to be involved in the Kaizen event and has to be made to feel valuable in order for it to work effectively.
- Everyone has to fully participate in every aspect of the Kaizen event and that includes analysing and evaluating the process changes being made.
- Employee empowerment is huge and every effort has to be made to promote the concept that everyone has a stake in the results.
- All employees as fully informed about the running of the company and also on the health of the company, in order for them to feel satisfied in their employment.
World-class quality management frameworks
Quality Management Systems deliver a comprehensive range of world-class quality management, auditing, training and QMS software solutions to organisations wishing to increase customer satisfaction, achieve greater consistency in the delivery products and services, build profitability and enhance reputations.
If you would like to learn more about our quality management systems, and how we can help you develop world-class processes please get in touch today.
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