We’ve all heard the term “Continuous Improvement.” We all know that it’s something we definitely want to strive for in our businesses – to constantly be working towards better efficiency, better effectiveness and better quality. But what is Kaizen, and what does it have to do with Continuous Improvement?

Kaizen is a Japanese term, roughly translated to mean “improvement.” In business, it helps you to recognize non value-added activities in every area – from working in the office to working in the plant – and constantly make small changes in order to improve these activities. It doesn’t have to cost you money, and it should include everyone in your company. Keep in mind that this is meant to be a gradual process and that the changes are not meant to be major ones – the smaller changes on a more regular basis will help more in the long run.

How would a system like this work?

Quite simply, you would need the help of everyone in your company. Ask them to give suggestions (not just at one time, but whenever they come up with them) on how processes can be improved. Share these suggestions. Implement them. Use these suggestions to help improve your company’s standards.

One of the key points in that every employee must be involved. Not only does this help give a perspective on all aspects of the business, on everything that could be improved, but it also gives the employees a sense of importance at the company – that what they say matters, and that they’ve helped make some good changes company.

What are the benefits of this system for you?

Quite simply, it improves the quality of your processes, the effectiveness, and the productivity. Kaizen can reduce waste, lower costs, and create a safer working environment. It also improves company culture, leadership and employee morale.

These results usually become evident very early on in the Kaizen process.

How can you implement Kaizen?

Kaizen can easily be implemented through PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act):

  1. Plan: What is the expected output, and what can you do to get there?
  2. Do: Implement the plan
  3. Check: Does everything in the plan work as expected?
  4. Act: Make any changes to the plan as necessary
  5. Repeat Process.

Still a little unsure about what Kaizen is, and how it can work for your company? Contact Northbridge Consultants for more information.

Quote for March 25th, 2009:

A visionary company doesn’t simply balance between idealism and profitability: it seeks to be highly idealistic and highly profitable. A visionary company doesn’t simply balance between preserving a tightly held core ideology and stimulating vigorous change and movement; it does both to an extreme.”
– Jim Collins