The term kaizen refers to continuous improvement. It is a Japanese term that was created in Japan after the World War II. Kaizen must involve all the employees in the company or organization for it to work effectively. You can implement Kaizen as a program into your organization or company.
However, it only yields the best results when it’s adopted by the company or organization as a philosophy. Kaizen can be well understood by successful companies as process-oriented way of doing thins. Successful organizations across the world who have enjoyed the benefits of Kaizen products will term it as a system of continuous improvement in technology, productivity, quality, process, leadership, company culture and safety.
A Practical Example Of The Kaizen Philosophy
Company A, a huge production company, selected a few of its employees to lead the introduction of Kaizen throughout the organization. The process involved two days of theory in the classroom and three practical lessons of team application in the teams own work area. A team of eight employees was selected from company A. this team included four employees from for the process that was to be improve, one from the previous process, one from the next process and two supporting staff e.g., (engineering, purchasing, accounting, quality or maintenance).
The teams were dedicated to Kaizen and used Kanban for at least 4-5 weeks and were also provided with the required support. This resulted in the team identifying and carrying out some of the numerous improvements ideas. Eventually, there was a significant drop in cycle time, non-value adding work and floor space requirements. This was a great accomplishment for the team as they also experienced positive results in terms of work-in-progress.
Kaizen: What Do We Learn From This?
The above practical clearly shows that the Kaizen philosophy is very effective for any company if well carried out. The Kaizen principles are as effective in large companies as they are in small ones. You need to continuously improve the company’s or organization’s process in order for Kaizen to work and produce results.
You should note that the case study above proves that Kaizen works equally well in administrative procedure and production processes. Continuous improvement is also compatible with total quality management, empowerment, teams and participative management. The team in Company A that was using the Kaizen philosophy recognized that they will only be productive with the tools and time given to them if they are also given clear expectations and time to work as a team.