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What is Kaizen and what is its approch?

Kaizen is made up of 2 japanese word, Kai and Zen.  Kai means “Change” and Zen means “Good”.  Change for good is the literal meaning of kaizen.  Kaizen is method of continuous improvement.  Continual ImprovementNotice that I have said continual and not continuous which lot of other consultants and practitioners term Kaizen as.  I prefer making it clear and precise so that everyone understands the approach.  Continuous improvement would mean make loads of changes to improve process.  Some of these changes might be implemented together.  Imagine after implementing 4 changes together there is business disruption and instead of improvement you get undesired results.  How would you find which change failed?  In order to revert to status quo and eliminate undesired results on business, you would have to roll back all 4 changes.  This is sheer wastage of energy.  Better approach is make same number of changes however 1 change at a time.  This 1 change at a time is continual improvement.

Kaizen is based on certain guiding principles as listed below:

  • Good processes bring good results
  • Go see for yourself to grasp the current situation
  • Speak with data, manage by facts
  • Take action to contain and correct root causes of problems
  • Work as a team
  • Kaizen is everybody’s business
  • And much more!

One of the most notable features of kaizen is that big results come from many small changes accumulated over time. However this has been misunderstood to mean that kaizen equals small changes. In fact, kaizen means everyone involved in making improvements. While the majority of changes may be small, the greatest impact may be kaizens that are led by senior management as transformational projects, or by cross-functional teams as kaizen events.

Kaizen Institute utilizes a set of proven methods and tools to reduce waste and increase Value for the client. This methodology has been applied across the globe in every economic sector. Taken as a whole, we call them the Kaizen Management System (KMS).

Improve Lead Times, Productivity, Inventory & Space with Total Flow Management (TFM):

Total Flow Management (TFM) focuses on streamlining material and information flows. Diagnosis is performed through management led Value Stream Mapping.

Application of Just-in-Time, kanban, pull systems, and other lean production and lean logistics methods will create a more flexible supply chain, with lower inventory levels and increased productivity.

Improve Equipment Effectiveness, Increased Safety and Quality with Total Productive Management (TPM):

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is a well proven methodology for improving asset performance. The Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) of your assets is improved by systematically reducing losses in quality, availability and speed. TPM does this by engaging people at all levels in problem solving, equipment planning and daily monitoring of performance.

Improved Quality with Total Quality Management (TQM):

TQM applies proven quality tools to systematically expose problems, identify root causes, take corrective action and implement mistake-proofing (pokayoke). Statistical methods and Six Sigma techniques are used to for more complex problems. TQM will reduce quality costs and improve customer satisfaction.

Lean Office, Lean Finance, Lean Engineering and Lean Administration (TSM- Total Service Management):

The kaizen methodology applied to knowledge work, information flow, and administrative processes improves service, quality and productivity while engaging people’s creativity. Kaizen principles are increasingly being adopted in offices of production facilities as well as service organizations such as banks, insurance companies and local governments. A lean office transformation begins by visualizing the processes and their targets, organizing teams around daily and project-based kaizen activity, and building simple performance management systems.

Lean Innovation, Lean Startup & Lean Product Development (IDM – Information Document Management):

The lean approach improves the effectiveness of the process of innovation, startups, new product development, new product launches, new facility design and construction. Lean methods bring results to innovation, startup, ramp up, running and ramp up of businesses in areas of:

  • Ability to deliver projects and products on-time, on budget
  • Flexibility and adaptability to change
  • Quality of the new product or service
  • Cost to launch and deliver product or service

These results are achieved by enabling people to fully engage their creativity by visualizing and improving the processes and ways of working. Contact us to learn how Kaizen Institute can help your early stage business, product or idea gain lean startup insight.

Kaizen CIKaizen helps you Gain or reap the full benefits or fruits of Continuous Improvement.  Let me ask you how does “change” happen in your organization? Is it through major initiatives, or is it part of the ongoing way you work?  Some types of change inevitably need a major project; meaning months of hard work, big budgets and upheaval.

But, often undervalued, an alternative or complementary approach to improving systems, processes and so on, is through more subtle, ongoing changes and continuous improvements.

Once a new major change has happened, perhaps a new system or structure put in place, is everything perfect? Will the new processes stay set in stone until the next major change in a few years’ time? Almost certainly not. In fact, if this attitude were taken, you would probably see a gradual decline in benefits after the initial step improvement, as inefficiencies and bad practice crept in.

There is always room to make small improvements, challenge the status quo, and tune processes and practice on an everyday basis. In fact, you and your colleagues probably do this week in, week out without calling it “change” or even “continuous improvement”. You’re already getting real benefits from the intuitive approach to continuous improvement. And over time, all of these incremental changes add up, and make a significant positive impact on your team and organization.

This approach to continuous, incremental improvement is called kaizen.  Kaizen is based on the philosophical belief that everything can be improved: Some organizations look at a process and see that it’s running fine; Organizations that follow the principle of Kaizen see a process that can be improved. This means that nothing is ever seen as a status quo – there are continuous efforts to improve which result in small, often imperceptible, changes over time. These incremental changes add up to substantial changes over the longer term, without having to go through any radical innovation. It can be a much gentler and employee-friendly way to institute the changes that must occur as a business grows and adapts to its changing environment.

Understanding the Approach

Because Kaizen is more a philosophy than a specific tool, its approach is found in many different process improvement methods ranging from Total Quality Management (TQM), to the use of employee suggestion boxes. Under kaizen, all employees are responsible for identifying the gaps and inefficiencies and everyone, at every level in the organization, suggests where improvement can take place.

Kaizen aims for improvements in productivity, effectiveness, safety, and waste reduction, and those who follow the approach often find a whole lot more in return:

  • Less waste – inventory is used more efficiently as are employee skills.
  • People are more satisfied – they have a direct impact on the way things are done.
  • Improved commitment – team members have more of a stake in their job and are more inclined to commit to doing a good job.
  • Improved retention – satisfied and engaged people are more likely to stay.
  • Improved competitiveness – increases in efficiency tend to contribute to lower costs and higher quality products.
  • Improved consumer satisfaction – coming from higher quality products with fewer faults.
  • Improved problem solving – looking at processes from a solutions perspective allows employees to solve problems continuously.
  • Improved teams – working together to solve problems helps build and strengthen existing teams.

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