Change is inevitable, and it is important to keep improving with change. Kaizen refers to the philosophy of continuous improvement and change for the better. Kaizen used in the business sense refers to activities that continually improve all functions of an organization, and involves all employees from the CEO to the lowest line workers.
The word Kaizen means “good change” and its main focus is the standardization of activities and process, to gradually eliminate waste and improve performance. The practice was first implemented in many Japanese businesses, after the Second World War, partly influenced by American teachers of quality management.
The five key elements of Kaizen:
– Teamwork: In a business setup, all employees should work as a team towards a common and unified goal, or a business objective.
– Discipline: It is important that all employees of an organization practice self-discipline towards managing work, time, quality and loyalty towards their company.
– Morale: All employers should be moral in their approach towards running a business and value their work force. Rewards, recognition, work benefits, medical care, bonuses etc offer security of employment and a sense of motivation.
– Sharing knowledge or quality circle: All employees or members of an organization should have the opportunity to share ideas, skills and resources on a common platform. This sharing and exchanging will encourage them to gauge their performance based on other companies Kaizen programs, which would in turn help them to improve.
– Providing Suggestions for improvement: Last but not the least, the practice of Kaizen encourages employees from all levels to provide suggestions for improvement. No matter how irrelevant the suggestions might be, they should be welcomed, appreciated and considered at all times.
TPS – Think People System (Toyota Production System Case Study):
At the Toyota Production System all employees and team members are encouraged to think about the process and make timely decisions in order to keep it running smoothly, rather than merely operating like machines. This involvement creates responsibility for the success of the process, increasing both morale and quality.
Every morning a meeting is held to discuss quality deviations and eliminate their causes. Everybody is encouraged to think and contribute ideas and suggestions. For example, at Toyota Material Handling Europe’s production sites about 3,000 proposals for improvements are made each year.