Some authors explain Japan’s competitive success in the world market place as the result of the implementation of the Kaizen concept in Japanese corporations. In contrast to the usual emphasis on revolutionary, innovative change on an occasional basis, Kaizen looks for uninterrupted, ongoing incremental change. In other words, there is always room for improvement and continuously trying to become better.

In practice, Kaizen can be implemented in corporations by improving every aspect of a business process in a step by step approach, while gradually developing employee skills through training education and increased involvement.

Being a PHILOSOPHY Kaizen needs some concrete tools for its actual realization. Traditionally Japanese Warriors used to carry 7 tools at the time of war so being a Japanese concept KAIZEN can also be implemented with the help of seven special tools. These are:

  1. Histograms
  2. Cause and Effect Diagrams
  3. Check Sheets
  4. Pareto Diagrams
  5. Graphs
  6. Control Charts
  7. Scatter Diagrams

Kaizen recognizes that improvements can be small or large. Many small improvements can bring about a very big change. For example the NISSAN experience with welding Robots. First introduced in 1973, within a decade the work time per unit was cut by 60 percent and the overall production efficiency was increased by 20 percent. This was achieved by a series of Kaizen Programmes that searched out improvements and cut the time considerably. Thus we see that Kaizen works at a very detailed level:

How to go about Kaizen

  1.  Discard conventional fixed ideas.
  2.  Think of how you can do it, not why it cannot be done.
  3.  Do not make excuses. Star by questioning current Practices.
  4.  Do not seek perfection. Do it right away even if it will achieve only 50% of the target.
  5.  If you make a mistake correct it right away.
  6.  Throw wisdom at a problem not money.
  7.  Ask “WHY?” 5 times and seek root causes.
  8.  Seek the wisdom of ten people rather than the knowledge of one.
  9.  Don’t ask people to leave their brains at the factory gate.

Kaizen is thus a (relatively) low cost, simple, team based approach. Teams are trained in techniques and tools of Kaizen. They then brainstorm improvement ideas and vote on the priority action. After this they create an action/implementation plan, which is submitted for approval. Assuming it is approved, the team then sets about implementation. Teams then meet weekly to review progress, identify/overcome barriers, achieve successes, and document the resulting changed processes. Stating in one sentence KAIZEN says that “Breakthroughs result not from massive reorganizations or large scale investment projects but from cumulative effects of successive incremental improvements.

The principles of Kaizen Implementation

Human resources are the most important company asset, processes must evolve by gradual improvement rather than radical changes, Improvement must be based on statistical/quantitative evaluation of process performance. Support throughout the entire structure is necessary to become successful at developing a strong Kaizen approach. Management as well as workers need to believe in the Kaizen idea and strive toward obtaining the small goals in order to reach overall success. Therefore, all members of an organization need to be trained in a manner to support this idea structure. Resources, measurements, rewards, and incentives all need to be aligned to and working with the Kaizen structure of ideas. It is the little things that add up to bigger things.

Basic Tips for Kaizen Activities

  1. Discard conventional fixed ideas.
  2. Think of how to do it, not why it cannot be done.
  3. Do not make excuses. Start by questioning current practices.
  4. Do not seek perfection. Do it right away even if for only 50% of target.
  5. Correct it right away, if you make mistake.
  6. Do not spend money for KAIZEN, use your wisdom.
  7. Wisdom is brought out when faced with hardship.
  8. Ask “WHY?” five times and seek root causes.
  9. Seek the wisdom of ten people rather than the knowledge of one.
  10. KAIZEN ideas are infinite.

Kaizen Implementation Assistance

IQMS are a team of experienced quality experts style, is based on a unique grassroots, common sense approach to leading the improvement effort. Knowing it is people who make the difference, we have designed solutions to deliver the right knowledge, skills and motivation, to make a difference.

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