Dream, create, explore, invent, pioneer, imagine . . .

Do these words describe the culture that defines how you do things?

The essence of Kaizen is simple: Kaizen means continuous improvement involving everyone, at all levels, throughout the enterprise.

Kaizen signifies small improvements made in the status quo as a result of on-going efforts.

Kaizen generates ‘process’ oriented thinking, since processes must be improved before we get improved results. Further Kaizen is people-oriented and is directed at people’s efforts.

Kaizen is a humanistic approach because it expects everybody to participate. It is based on the belief that every member of the organisation can contribute to improvement of their own workplace. Getting everyone to participate in Kaizen is a crucial part of staying competitive today; however, getting everyone to participate positively needs the right climate or corporate culture. Creating cooperative atmosphere and corporate culture is an inseparable part of Kaizen programmes.

All the Kaizen programmes implemented in Japan have one prerequisite in common: getting acceptance (of the programme) at all levels and overcoming resistance to change. Achieving this has necessitated that management embrace:-

  • An emphasis on training and education.
  • Constant efforts to improve communications/relationships.
  • Training supervision to communicate better.
  • The need for discipline in the workplace.
  • Teamwork
  • Support and recognition for Kaizen efforts.

In Kaizen, customer satisfaction is measured in terms of Quality, Cost, and Delivery. It is management’s job to establish priorities among these goals and to deploy the goals down through the organisation.

The benefits of Kaizen are well documented, and proven. Kaizen is a culture that leads to improved quality, productivity and employee engagement.

In addition to promoting innovation and problem solving for continuous improvement at an operational level, world class organisations also focus on continuous improvement projects.

These projects are aimed at improving operations and practices within the people-culture as measured by one or more of the QCDSP (quality, cost, delivery, safety and people-performance) key outputs.

Continuous improvement project teams would include members from cross functional teams and be initiated by either a specific problem or a recognised opportunity to improve.

One of the Team Managers should be designated as the Continuous Improvement Project Leader (CIPL) to provide guidance and facilitation in the implementation, monitoring and analysis of the project.

The CIPL should apply the DMAIC model to the structure of the project:-

  • Define
  • Measure
  • Analyse
  • Improve
  • Control

Regular project meetings to assess progress are essential.

Extract from ProjectBoard™ SRM programme v3.0 module 2.7.3 Kaizen. ©Assess Improve Measure Ltd 2012.