A Kaizen Story

When a large manufacturing plant in Iowa decided to implement Kaizen into their facilities they had plenty of questions and hurdles to overcome. The organization, which produces agricultural and construction-related equipment saw the continuous improvement process known as Kaizen as a means to improve business. The process for them didn’t come easy and creating a sustainable process became a challenge, but a Kaizen story like any story, is always good to review.

a kaizen story

The following information was collected by an independent survey firm hired by the company to obtain honest feedback regarding employee perceptions about their jobs, company policies, practices, programs, the work environment and supervision. Statistically significant differences were calculated at the 95 percent confidence level. These are the conclusions drawn from their study.

A Kaizen Story

  • Positive feelings about employee involvement directly correlated to the number of Kaizen events employees had participated in. In fact the results showed it was statistically more significant as the number of events increased. Similar types of results were documented regarding employees’ feelings toward supervision, career advancement opportunities, and job satisfaction. The same was true regarding their attitude toward the entire Kaizen initiative.
  • Keep Calm And Kaizen On Employees who participated in more Kaizen events felt their supervisor did a better job of communicating.
  • Employees who participated in more Kaizen events felt they had better opportunities to share their views with the team.
  • Employees who participated in more Kaizen events felt Kaizen was going to be a permanent part of the way the company operates.
  • There were a significant number of employees who felt that after a Kaizen team finished it’s work there was not adequate follow-up to make sure that recommended changes were maintained and implemented successfully.
  • Employees who participated in more Kaizen events felt that the Kaizen initiative improved the efficiency of operations.
  • Employees who participated in more Kaizen events viewed the Kaizen initiative as necessary to ensure competitiveness.
  • Only 50 to 60 percent off the employees felt they were receiving adequate feedback regarding customer satisfaction with the work they performed. There was a direct correlation between how positive employees felt and the number of Kaizen events they had participated in. The same was true about how positive they felt about the future.
  • An overwhelming majority of all employees expressed a belief that the company is socially responsible in the community and to the environment.
  • Employees who participated in more Kaizen events showed a statistically significant difference in positive response to how satisfied they were to be working at the company.
  • A majority of the employees said the company was a good place to work and that they were proud to be associated with the company. Employees who participated in more Kaizen events felt more positive about these two areas than those who only had participated in zero to three Kaizen events.
  • Employees who participated in more Kaizen events showed a significant difference in how positive they felt about whether their job offers opportunity to use their abilities.
  • The majority of employees, regardless of their Kaizen experience, felt their job was really worthwhile and gave them a sense of personal accomplishment. They also viewed their jobs as important to the company

The company’s willingness to use the continuous improvements methods of Kaizen to drive efficiency, standardize work, organization, and improvement by continually reevaluating processes and eliminating waste from those processes proved to be the right decision. The results from this study allow the outsider to see a kaizen story from inside the minds of the people eager to make it work.

The bottom-line is that employees who have participated in more Kaizen events generally feel more positive about their jobs and about their company, while feeling apart of something that was beneficial to all. Which in the end is a key factor in sustaining your continuous improvement process. When employees are disengaged their willingness to participate in something is drastically reduced.

Portions of this post where gathered from a case study done by Terry Butler and Gail Snyder from The Performance Management Magazine.

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