a Japanese term that basically translates to 'continuous improvement' or
'change to become good', is a management concept originated by the
Japanese in order to continuously effect incremental changes for the
better, involving everybody within the organization from workers to
is aimed at producing more and more value with less and less wastes
(higher efficiency), attaining better working environment, and
developing stable processes by standardization.
never-ending process of achieving small improvements within the company
everyday is in contrast to trying to achieve breakthrough results from a
large improvement once in a while. Kaizen as a management
technique is therefore more suitable for organizations with a collective
culture that is trying to achieve long-term gains from a continuous
supply of small and less radical contributions from its employees.
Kaizen implementation is
said to operate on the following principles: 1) that human resources are
the company's most important asset; 2) that success can not be achieved
by some occasional radical changes alone, but more so by incremental yet
consistently arriving improvements; and 3) that improvements must be
based on a statistical or quantitative study of the performance of the
Thus, under Kaizen, everyone
is a valued contributor to the company's success, and must therefore be
given the necessary education and training in order to contribute in his
or her own way on a continuous basis. Everyone in the organization
must genuinely believe in the idea of Kaizen and strive to achieve one
small goal at a time, each of which is considered a step towards the
company's over-all success.
Every person must therefore
be willing to: 1) learn; 2) communicate; 3) be disciplined; 4) get
involved; and 5) change in order to maximize gains from Kaizen.
Management must also be able to support this Kaizen structure by
aligning resources, metrics, rewards, and incentives to Kaizen
principles, encouraging all employees to contribute in their own ways.
Management programs that
promote Kaizen include but are not limited to the following: 1)
employee suggestion systems; 2) recognition systems for employees who
exert effort for continuous improvement; 3) group-oriented suggestion or
improvement systems like Quality Circles (small groups that perform
quality improvement activities); 4)
5) 5-S; 6)
and 7) Total Quality Management.
Kaizen's Business Tenets:
1) Not a single day should
pass without any kind of improvement anywhere in the company.
strategies must be driven by customer requirements and satisfaction.
3) Quality must always
take a higher priority over profits.
4) Employees must be
encouraged to recognize problems and suggest improvements to address
5) Problems must be
solved by a collaborative and systematic approach through
thinking (as opposed to results-oriented thinking) must be practiced by
everyone, so that every process gets continuously improved from time to
Just-In-Time (JIT); TPM; TQM;
SPC; 6-Sigma; 5S Process; Poka-Yoke
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