Kaizen is basically a tool that helps organizations apply the quality Management systems in practice. Kaizen originated in Japan and is a Japanese word that literally means “improvement” or “Change for the better”. However, in the mainstream, it is mostly means “Continuous Improvement” as it promises to bring that to the company through its principles. It does that, by something known as the 5 S principles. As for this article, you will know, what Kaizen is, its brief history, further about the 7 step cycle that is included in this tool and lastly its advantages and disadvantages. So, let’s dig a little deeper about Kaizen-
What is Kaizen?
Kaizen is an approach that small and medium business can use for continuous growth of the organization. With Kaizen, the company uses a cohesive and a more effective approach in its working pattern. Kaizen basically helps the organization to be more productive, eliminate the chances of wastage and finally encourage accountability in the employees. Aside from the traditional top tier and lower tier approach, Kaizen encourages a cohesive work ethic for every individual that is involved in the company and thus, this boosts productivity and also accountability of all the employees.
A brief history of Kaizen
Kaizen is believed to be originated in Japan post the World War II era, most probably by the group of employees at Toyota in response to the American management and productivity consultants. It reached the west much later. It was taken to the west by Maasaki Imai. He wrote it in his book “Kaizen: The key to Japan’s competitive success.” It is through this book that the Kaizen method popularized in the west and so numerous companies adopted the method and experienced the magic of growth that it brought in.
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How Kaizen Works?
Kaizen realizes that change is the stepping stone for growth and thus, it is based on the principle of constant improvements and implementations. It states that nothing needs to be fixed or nothing needs to be according to the status quo. Anything can be changed as and when need for the company’s growth. Kaizen basically implements a set of 7 steps that are continuously carried out in a cycle for success of the company. It involves, identifying the current problems and finding solutions and further implementing the solutions. Followed by adequately changing the norms that were earlier needed for growth and but now were outdated. In layman’s language, Kaizen brings about continuous changes and small improvements in the present process that and finally churn out the profits for the company through them. For this it follows a 7 step solution cycle. Here’s how it goes-
- Get the employees involved: See, considering the POVs and concerns of all the employees proves to be a boon in the long run. As this basically gets them involved in the actual working process. Rather than being just robots and doing mechanical work, if they are included in the decision making process, the organization will actually get more responses and can expect more involvement from their employees.
- Get in search of the problems: Run through the papers of the company to find the bugs in the system, and also potential opportunities. You can use the data to analyze the current situation and look for areas that can be improved. You can also ask your employees for feedback for the systems. This way the company can collectively look for problems and list them together.
- Find a Solution: Now, that you have the entire lists of problems and potential opportunities, you need to brainstorm ideas to solve these problems. Once all the scratching of heads is done and the company get’s the solution or solutions for the problems, you can move to the next step.
- Trial and error: Once the company has established the solution, it can make changes and try it out. Testing the solution is important. Try out all the possible solutions that you have received.
- Regularly measure and analyze the results: Now, you need to keep a track of how the solution has turned out. So, keep a track of the books and check the reports of the company post the changes and improvements in the system.
- If it works out fine and you see better results in the company’s reports, continue with it and include it for a long term. If it doesn’t, try with other options.
- And finally continue with this cycle for substantial growth and progress of the company.
These are the 7 steps that are followed in the Kaizen Continuous improvement tool. It is clear from the steps that with the Kaizen 7 step cycle approach, the company constantly keeps on reviewing the books and also keeps changing their strategies. This ensures the security and efficient working of the company. With this the company constantly progresses and assesses their work.
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