What is KAIZEN™?

BY KIA - 2017-10-13

Japanese improvement techniques have been emulated across the globe for decades, and none carries more cultural weight than the theory of Kaizen. Mr. Ohno applied the theory of Kaizen to help Toyota reach unprecedented levels of success. Toyota is just one case study that illustrates the power of Kaizen. In order to achieve Kaizen, you have to hold yourself accountable and acknowledge your struggles as well as the negative emotions they bring about. This is a starting point for change. Without accepting this you will not have the motivation to avoid defeat in the future.

Kaizen not only means suggestion scheme. Read more about this here.  The theory of Kaizen cannot be contained in a single phrase and definitely not in numbers. Kaizen is not a target; Kaizen is how you challenge your mindset, your thinking & how you change your paradigms. You must be courageous to reveal and accept the insecurities of yourself and others (in order to improve), but the energy generated from this practice is what fuels your development as a human being and as a leader. Kaizen is the practice of continuous improvement. Kaizen was originally introduced to the West by Masaaki Imai in his book Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success in 1986. Today kaizen is recognized worldwide as an important pillar of an organization’s long-term competitive strategy.

Kaizen is continuous improvement that is based on certain guiding principles:

  1. Good processes bring good results
  2. Go see for yourself to grasp the current situation
  3. Speak with data, manage by facts
  4. Take action to contain and correct root causes of problems
  5. Work as a team
  6. Kaizen is everybody’s business
  7. And much more!

One of the most notable features of kaizen is that big results come from many small changes accumulated over time. However this has been misunderstood to mean that kaizen equals small changes. In fact, kaizen means everyone involved in making improvements. While the majority of changes may be small, the greatest impact may be kaizens that are led by senior management as transformational projects, or by cross-functional teams as kaizen events.

In case you missed it, my last post was 7 habits of highly successful people

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Gemba Kaizen