What is Kaizen?
Kaizen means "improvement". Kaizen
strategy calls for
never-ending efforts for improvement
in the organization managers and workers alike.
Kaizen and Management
Management has two major
The objective of the maintenance
function is to maintain current technological, managerial, and operating
standards. The improvement function is aimed at improving current standards.
Under the maintenance
function, the management must first establish policies, rules, directives
and standard operating procedures (SOPs) and then work towards ensuring that
everybody follows SOP. The latter is achieved through a combination of
discipline and human resource development measures.
Under the improvement
function, management works continuously towards revising the current
standards, once they have been mastered, and establishing higher ones.
Improvement can be broken down between innovation and Kaizen. Innovation
involves a drastic improvement in the existing process and requires large
investments. Kaizen signifies small improvements as a result of coordinated
continuous efforts by all employees.
Implementation of Kaizen Strategy: 7
of the most difficult aspects of introducing and implementing Kaizen
strategy is assuring its continuity.
When a company introduces something new,
total quality management (TQM), it experiences some initial success,
but soon such success disappear like fireworks on summer night and after
a while nothing is left, and management keeps looking for a new flavor
of the month.
This if because the company lacks the first
most important conditions
for the successful introduction and implementation of Kaizen strategy...
Process-Oriented Thinking vs.
Kaizen concentrates at improving
rather than at achieving certain results. Such managerial attitudes and
process thinking make a major difference
in how an organization
Quick and Easy Kaizen
Quick and Easy Kaizen (or Mini-Kaizen) is aimed at
worker satisfaction, all from a very grassroots level. Every company employee
is encouraged to come up with
small that could improve his/her particular job activity, job environment
or any company process for that matter. The employees are also encouraged to
implement their ideas as small changes can be done by the worker him or
herself with very little investment of time.
Quick and easy Kaizen helps eliminate or reduce
wastes, promotes personal growth of employees and the company, provides
guidance for employees, and serves as a barometer of leadership. Each kaizen
may be small, but the cumulative effect is tremendous.
The quick and easy kaizen process works as
The employee notices a problem or an
opportunity for improvement...
Canon plants, the foremen are
told to set aside the half-hour as
Kaizen time time to do nothing but thinking improvement in the
The foremen use this period to identify problems and work
on Kaizen programs.
Factories are advised not to hold meetings
during this 30-minute period, and foremen should not even answer the
Five Ss at Canon
Canon has an ongoing workplace
improvement program called the Five Ss. The Five Ss refer to the
five dimensions of of workplace optimization:
Seiton (Set in order),
Seiketsu (Standardize), and
The Toyota Way: 14 Principles
Production System (TPS)
Case in Point
Principles of Toyota Production System
Employee Empowerment: the
are a valuable opportunity for worker
self-development as well as for two-way communication in the workshop.
Suggestion systems make employees Kaizen-conscious and provide an
opportunity for the workers to speak out with their supervisors as well as
The suggestion system is an
integral part of an established management system that aims at involving
employees in Kaizen.
The number of worker's suggestions is regarded as an
important criteria in reviewing the performance of the worker's supervisor
and the manager of the supervisor.
The Japanese management encourages
employees to generate a great number of suggestions and works hard to
consider and implement these suggestions, often incorporating them into the
overall Kaizen strategy. Management also gives due recognition to employee's
efforts for improvement. An important aspect of the suggestion system is
that each suggestion, once implemented, leads to an upgraded standard.
Quality control (QC) circles can
be viewed as a group-oriented suggestion system for making improvements.
is a small group that voluntarily performs quality-control activities in the
Total quality control
(TQC) involves everyone in the organization and is aimed at improvement of
managerial performance at all levels.
According to Masaaki Imai, author of
The Key To Japan's Competitive Success,
Japanese managers have more
leeway in implementing employee suggestions that Western counterparts.
Japanese managers are willing to go along with a change if it contributes to
any of the seven goals of the suggestion system.
This is a sharp contrast to the Western manager's almost exclusive concern
with the cost of the change and its economic payback.
5 Basic Elements
3 Stages of the
1. Encouragement. In the first stage,
management should make every effort to help the workers provide suggestions,
no matter how primitive, for the betterment of the worker's job and the
workshop. This will help the workers look at the way they are doing their
Kaizen is the heart of
(also known as the
Toyota states: "...based on the concept of continuous improvement,
or Kaizen, every Toyota team member is empowered with the ability to
improve their work environment. This includes everything from
quality and safety to the environment and productivity. Improvements
and suggestions by team members are the cornerstone of Toyota's
13 Tips for Transitioning Your Company To a