Reviewed by Jan 29, 2021| Updated on
Kaizen refers to a Japanese term meaning ‘continuous improvement’. The source of kaizen is in the Japanese methods or business processes based on the culture of continuous improvement. Kaizen is employed in various segments of a business process, such as designing, standard production procedures, delivery, and so on. Kaizen seeks to encourage creativity and innovation for employees.
Kaizen encourages gradual and methodical improvements from employees. The methods of kaizen are used at all the stages of production, and all the employees are involved in continuous improvement. Kaizen also includes minor but effective changes made to production processes, such as minor tweak in the design of the product which cuts down the production time.
The main focus of kaizen is to standardise the production processes, use better plant and machinery, reduce wastage, maintain and improve quality and efficient delivery. The concept of kaizen is built on small changes made gradually over a long period, which improve the business model of the organisation.
Kaizen is built on the philosophy that employees have a stake in the progress of an organisation. The basic principles of kaizen are teamwork, improved morale, personal discipline, quality of work and suggesting ideas for improvement. The basic principles are designed to enable: (a) standardisation of procedures (b) eliminating wastage (c) good housekeeping
The Japanese inculcate kaizen as part of the organisation’s work culture. The employees should take ownership and responsibility for continuous improvement for the organisation. It assumes that an employee performing a task has the knowledge and ability to better the task at hand.
A PDCA format is followed for improvement, where PDCA stands for plan, do, check, and act. The first stage is to plan the change with a goal. The second step is to carry out the planned changes. Thirdly, check whether the planned changes have worked out well. Lastly, in the ‘act’ stage, the organisation decides whether or not to include the change as part of the standard procedures.